PRE-DEPARTURE When you travel abroad, the odds are you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Travelers can, however, become victims of crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. We have prepared the following travel tips to help you avoid serious difficulties during your time abroad. We wish you a safe and wonderful journey!
What To Take Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress in a way that could mark you as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention. Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended. Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to put them each in a different place rather than all in one wallet or pouch.
Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing. If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Pack those, as well as any medicine you need in your carry-on luggage. To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel. With respect to your monetary resources, do some research before you leave. In the case of Nepal, cash is king. A small amount of prep time will tell you whether the other countries you’re visiting commonly accept travelers’ cheques or credit cards, and whether ATMs will be available. Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement easier in the event it is lost or stolen. Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.
What To Leave Behind Don't bring anything you would hate to lose, and try to leave things at home that will be burdensome to getting around safely and efficiently, such as: ► ► ► ► ► ► ►
Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry Irreplaceable family objects Your entire key ring (which can sound like change jingling) All unnecessary credit cards and other ID cards Small appliances such as hairdryers Your full-sized umbrella Impractical shoes
Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency. Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home; pack the other in a safe place, separate from where you carry the originals. If you purchased travelers’ cheques, leave a copy of the serial number on each at home, in addition to carrying a copy in a separate place from the original.
What To Learn About Local Laws and Customs | You are a subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit, and keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries. You should also try to be aware of the local dress at your destination, and any social or legal requirements to cover up in public or in specific buildings and places of worship. Once you’ve done your research, pack appropriately.
Weather Conditions | Do some research on the expected weather patterns before you travel abroad; you will be prepared and can pack appropriately.
Drug Violations | Some countries do not distinguish between possession and trafficking of drugs, and many have mandatory sentences; even for small amounts of marijuana. Also, keep in mind that just because you purchased something legally elsewhere (or the amount that you carry is legal elsewhere) doesn’t mean it is legal in the country you’re visiting. Be particularly careful of prescription amphetamines and tranquilizers. If you’re in doubt about foreign drug laws, ask local authorities.
Photography | In many countries you can be detained for photographing security-related institutions, such as police and military installations, government buildings or border areas. Do some research beforehand, but if you are in doubt, ask permission before taking photographs.
Things to Arrange Visa or Entry Permit | Many countries require the purchase of a visa in order to visit, even for a short period of time. The local embassy or consulate of the countries youâ€™re visiting can tell you about all of the visa requirements.
Flights | When there is a choice of airport or airline, ask your travel agent about comparative safety records. Make sure you book or have the ability to book onward flights from your final destination.
Register with Your Embassy | Most embassies have a service through which you can register yourself as a traveler. The benefit of registering comes if there is an unforeseen disaster in your host country such as a natural calamity (earthquake, flood, etc) or a form of social upheaval. Your embassy will know of your presence in the country and can account for you, in addition to contacting your family at home to let them know you are safe.
Legal Documents | Have your affairs in order at home. Leave a current will, copy of your insurance, and power of attorney with your family or a friend, so that you will be prepared in the event of an emergency. If you have dependant children, consider making guardianship arrangements for them.
Vaccinations | Visit your doctor or a travel clinic to get all the relevant vaccinations and immunizations for the destinations you're visiting; some destinations even require you to have certain vaccines by law. Your doctor will also be able to tell you what health precautions to take while traveling .
Credit | Make a note of the credit limit on each credit card that you bring, and avoid charging over that limit while traveling. Ask your credit card company how to report the loss of your card from abroad.
Insurance | Find out if your personal property insurance covers you for loss or theft abroad. Also, check on whether your health insurance covers you abroad. Domestic health insurance usually doesnâ€™t reimburse you for medical care while abroad, so make sure the travel insurance you purchase is adequate to cover you in the event of an illness or serious injury. Other considerations when purchasing travel insurance are any special activities youâ€™re participating in such as trekking or scuba diving, and evacuation from remote regions.
WHILETRAVELING Safety on the Street Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be cautious in, or avoid, areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets, and try not to travel alone at night. Additionally, avoid public demonstrations and other civil Disturbances at all costs. Try to keep a low profile. Avoid looking at your map in the middle of a crowded street, pointing loudly or engaging in an argument. Make sure you or your traveling companions don’t discuss your travel plans with strangers. Do some research before you leave, to get an idea of how much certain items should cost; souvenirs, taxi fare, and food, for example. Be aware that scam artists may offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices. Be especially aware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will: ► ► ► ►
Jostle you Ask you for directions or the time Point to something spilled on your clothing Distract you by creating a disturbance
Try to remember to wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse snatchers. In the event that you’re lost, continue to act as if you know where you’re going, and only ask for directions from someone in a position of authority. Have a few phrases in the local language on hand to express that you need help. Also, make sure you have the correct change for a payphone. Before you leave for your vacation, make a note of local emergency telephone numbers; police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest your embassy. Check your surroundings when you leave a restaurant or public attraction. Travel can be distracting, and you’re already carrying more items than you would at home, so you’re more likely to forget your something you set down. Beggars and street children can be common abroad. That said, wanton giving is irresponsible because it encourages the stereotype of Westerners, and because you don’t know how your money will be spent. Your generous gifts will be more meaningful when dispensed through a reputable local charity or NGO.
Safety in Your Hotel Even when you’re in your own hotel room, you should be aware of safety c oncerns and doing your best to mitigate risky situations. For instance, when you’re in your room, keep your hotel door locked at all times. When you check in, make sure the front desk clerk doesn’t say your room number aloud, and don’t share it. Meet any visitors in the lobby. Also, if you’re going out at night, let the front desk staff know. When you go out for the day, either leave your valuables in the general hotel safe, or lock them securely in you’re room’s safe, if there is one. If you go to get on the elevator alone and there is someone suspicious-looking inside, wait for the next carriage. Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are. Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.
Transportation Safety Taxis | Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Do not share a taxi with strangers; they will know where you are staying, visiting or going. Make sure the driver knows how to get to your destination, before you get in.
Buses | Stay alert with on public busses; they are rife with opportunities for you to be pick-pocketed or grabbed. Additionally, beware when sleeping on a bus or in a bus station; you are a prime target to be robbed.
At the Airport | When you first get off the airplane, you are probably going to be tired, excited and overwhelmed. Keep your wits about you, especially when collecting your baggage. When you bag appears on the carousel, watch it closely until it arrives where you’re standing. Also, airport currency exchange booths are a common target for thieves; change your money in the city.
Rental Cars | Make sure you know whether the country you’re visiting requires an International Driver’s Permit in order to operate a vehicle. If you’re traveling alone and the rental car you hire has external markings designating it as a rental vehicle, remove it or consider looking for another provider. If the traffic drives on the opposite side of the road from where you come, practice your orientation in a parking lot before heading out on the roads. Also, make yourself aware of the traffic laws of your host country before you get on the road, and be aware that many countries don’t have the same standards of driving safely as you are accustomed to. Lastly, carjacking is still a problem in many large cities; when driving, keep your doors, windows and boot locked, and don’t come to a full stop when you don’t have to.
Money Safety When you’re traveling, always try to avoid carrying large amount of cash. In some countries, cash is still king, so carrying it can’t be avoided.
However, there are things you can do to mitigate risk. For instance, you can carry travelers’ cheques, and cash them as you need currency. Also, most countries now have ATMs where you can withdraw money right from your chequing account. Also, if you have to carry cash, make an effort to split it up. Keep some with your passport, some with your credit cards in your wallet, and some hidden elsewhere in your bag. When you’re making a purchase, avoid pulling out all of your cash to count it out, as flashing your cash is always a bad idea. Check that you have all of your credit cards after each transaction. If you are exchanging currency, deal only with authorized agents and make sure you research what the exchange rate should be before you leave home. If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately. Important items to report are travelers’ cheques (to the issuer), credit cards (to your bank), and airline tickets (to the airline). Should your passport be lost or stolen, you have a legal obligation to report it within 24 hours to your local embassy. Your embassy will help you replace it, so ensure you have copies.
Questions? Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns! The GAPNepal team are experts with numerous years of experience in the travel industry—and the Nepali region in particular. They are happy to provide additional travel safety advice, tailored specifically to your trip to Nepal. GAPNepal email@example.com +977 1 438 9748 Naya Bazaar Marg, Bagmati Zone G.P.O. 9294, Kathmandu, 44600, Nepal
Published on Jan 4, 2016
GAPNepal has many years of experience leading travelers through the wonders of Nepal, and our primary concern has always been the safety and...