Some of my most favorite experiences have happened whilst traveling and road-tripping around the country, it is the best way to get to know an area and the people who make it great. In this day and age, however, it is important to stay vigilant and travel safely – after all, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore.
As long as you are well prepared and follow some general safety guidelines, there is no reason you can’t have the best time of your life – I have met some of my closest friends in the strangest of places. Here are 8 simple, yet vital, habits you need to get into when you’re traveling to a new area.
- Let Your Family Know Where You Will Be
Being an adult has its perks for sure, like no bedtimes, ice-cream for breakfast and being able to go anywhere you like. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tell your nearest and dearest where you are headed and the routes you plan to take to get there. If you can, switch on the GPS on your phone and have your car fitted with a tracking device if it doesn’t already have one – that way if anything should happen, your travel path can be easily tracked.
- Let Your Bank Know Your Plans
This habit is particularly important if you’re planning on traveling to a town far away, if you’re just planning a visit to a nearby place to see the holiday lights then you shouldn’t need to alert your bank. This is just to make sure they are aware that you could be making purchases from a different location to normal and they don’t need to flag your card for potentially fraudulent charges simply because they are irregular.
- Protect Yourself And Your Belongings
Being a savvy traveler doesn’t need to be difficult, you just need to get into the habit of thinking like a criminal. I realize that doesn’t sound great, but let me explain… If you view yourself as a potential target, like they would, you will be able to easily spot your weaknesses. Make sure your valuables are locked away in your trunk, like your laptop and handbag – remember the “out of sight, out of mind” rule. It is also a good idea to get a safe personal alarm, that way it can always sound the alarm, even when you can’t. These kinds of personal alarms can be kept with you and used it situations when you need to raise awareness that you need help.
- Do Your Research On The Town
Aside from just figuring out what to do and where to go for food and accommodation, researching the town will also give you a good idea of what tourist attractions they may have and where to find them. You wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing the world’s biggest ball of yarn or the Landscape Design Challenge winner now would you? Researching the town beforehand will also give you a good idea of how long you should plan on staying there.
- Ask The Locals
As wise as Google is, it can’t know absolutely everything about an area. When you arrive in your temporary new town, seek out some locals to quiz on your new surroundings. Most people will happily tell you about their favourite things to do there and also on the areas you should avoid, if any. You will have to trust your gut in certain situations, dive bars can have some really dodgy folks in them but they can also have awesome people in them. My advice here is to listen to instincts, if you’re standing outside and someone gets thrown out a window then maybe don’t venture in, rather find somewhere else to have a drink.
- Try To Blend In
Tourists tend to stick out like a sore thumb and therefore become easy targets. Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you, don’t have your camera hanging around your neck and please, pleeease don’t wear the hideous hat. If you travel to Texas, I get it – you want a Stetson, and you should definitely get one! All I am saying is there is no need to walk out the store looking like Woody from Toy Story. Keep your outfits simple and try to look like a local. That way you won’t be a shiny new target and you also stand more chance of making new friends. We all know city folks dress super fancy when compared to town folk, don’t be THAT person.
- Be Scam Savvy
Join Facebook groups for the town you’re going to, you can always leave them again when you’re back home or have moved onto the next place. That way you’re more likely to hear about any dodgy local travel scams, I know you might think that you’re too smart to fall for scams but most of us are so programmed to want to be liked that we forget to protect ourselves and we land up in unfortunate situations. I once heard about a guy who high-fived another guy (…not that you should do that now during the pandemic) and when he got back to his hotel room he noticed his watch was gone. Keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Drink Responsibly
If any of you actually knew me, you’d laugh at this one. I have been known to throw name a little… okay fine, a lot. That was when I was younger and naïve, I have grown and matured since the days of dancing on bars and singing off-key karaoke. I promise. So I tell you this with all honesty and experience – do NOT drink too much in a new town. Not only is it not safe if you don’t know the people or the area, you’ll also rob happiness from the next few days of your trip by being grossly hung-over. By all means, have one or two if you aren’t driving back to your hotel – just don’t finish the bottle and definitely don’t touch the tequila. Tequila never ends well for anyone, ever.