Boswells' Guide to Travelling Safely and Securely
Visiting new places can make for some truly amazing memories, but it can also be a really good idea to give a little thought to keeping yourself and your belongings as safe as possible while you’re off seeing new things. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you to be as prepared as possible.
Keep reading, or click on one of the below links to skip to a specific section.
Wherever you’re planning on visiting, it really pays to do your homework before you even book. We suggest having a look before you go to see what the current security issues in the area might be so that you can plan ahead accordingly. These might be minor, but at least you’ll know what to expect when you arrive, leaving you with one fewer thing to worry about! Things to think about can include acquainting yourself with the political situation in the area, or simply familiarising yourself with any common tourist traps that might crop up while you’re away. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is a good place to start doing a little research: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
It’s also useful to look up some of the the local laws, customs and expectations too, so that you don’t unwittingly offend anyone or unexpectedly end up in trouble with the local law enforcement while you’re away.
While there’s no need to make yourself an expert on the culture you’re visiting, a little prior knowledge does go a long way and frees you up to concentrate on enjoying yourself.
Find out where the embassy or consulate is in any countries that you’re visiting, and make sure that you have a copy of these details in case they’re needed. If you do find yourself in trouble, or even just without your passport, the embassy details might just come in handy.
And, of course, before you go, make copies of all of your important documents (travel insurance, card numbers, visas, your itinerary, hotel and flight details etc.), so that you have these to hand should any problems arise. Make a photocopy/scan of your passport as well, and keep this separate from the passport itself. It’s always wise to make sure someone back home has a copy of these details and documents too, that way someone knows how to get in touch if you do run into any problems during your trip.
Whether you’re travelling somewhere especially exotic or not, it’s important to ensure that you’re going to stay as healthy as possible on your travels!
To do this, we recommend making a travel clinic appointment with your GP or popping into our pharmacy for a Travel Requirements Consultation about 8-12 weeks before you travel. A doctor, nurse or pharmacist can help advise you on any necessary (and recommended) vaccinations, anti-malarials and any other health-precautions you ought to be taking while you’re away, based on where you’re headed.
Image Credit: Elena Woolley
You may also want to get your hands on a travel first-aid kit. If you’re going somewhere with lots of mosquitos, we suggest investing in some good insect repellent to keep you as bite free as possible, as well as something to soothe the bites if you do get chomped! Read our blog on ways to protect yourself against contracting malaria here.
The climate can make a big impact on your general health and well-being while you're away too. If you're off somewhere hot, we suggest taking a peek at our guide to looking after yourself in the heat, here.
Travelling to new and exciting places can be one of life’s real treats, but still, from time to time your belongings can unfortunately go for a wander, never to be seen again. This is true, of course, whether you’re halfway round the globe, or just strolling around Oxford city centre, and so it generally pays to be a little cautious regardless of where you are.
Nevertheless, there are a few extra things to think about when you’re travelling, since you’re often carrying more about than usual, staying in unfamiliar surroundings, and are more likely to be distracted by all the amazing sights you're off seeing.
In many respects, the key to looking after your things while you’re away comes down to how you go about your packing. The more expensive bits and pieces you take with you, the more things there are to lose along the way, so it usually isn’t a good idea to take more valuable items than are necessary to your trip.
Of course you’ll probably still want to take a few valuable bits and pieces—your phone, camera or tablet, for example—so when you’re flying try to pack anything that really matters to you in your carry on luggage.
At least if all of your valuables are close to hand, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind, knowing that everything is safe and still with you!
If you’re travelling to the USA a TSA lock will secure your hold luggage, and still allow customs officials to check inside your suitcase, if necessary, without damaging your lock. This means that once customs have completed their security check on your suitcase it can be safely secured again, so you hopefully won’t find your belongings strewn across the baggage claim area, or that anything is altogether missing on arrival. Some other countries (such as Canada, Japan, Israel, Finland, Austria and South Korea) do support TSA locks. If you’re still trying to decide on the best suitcase for your trip have a read of our luggage guide here or pop into our Luggage Department, on the ground floor of the store, for some extra help from our staff.
It’s always handy to have some of the local currency on you when you’re out and about, but try to carry it in different pockets and pouches (and to not carry too much money in cash) so that if you are unlucky enough to fall foul of a pickpocket, chances are they won’t be able to take everything. If you can also keep cards and traveller’s cheques in different places, with any luck you’ll be able to keep those safe also.
To help you with this, you might want to consider getting hold of a money belt or pouch to fit securely and inconspicuously under your clothing, and you can even get ones to accommodate your passport too. There are also bags available on the market that offer various security and anti-theft features, designed specifically with travellers in mind, which can mean one fewer thing to worry about while you’re off exploring new places.
We spoke to Peter in our Luggage department about some of our newest travel safety bags. Here's what he told us:
"We have introduced Pacsafe, a range of bags to thwart potential thieves. These products come with puncture resistant zips, so no worrying about someone placing items in or removing items from your bags without your knowledge, as well as RFID blocking capabilities and Dyneema® webbing and straps, which are lightweight and hard to cut through. They also come with Carrysafe slash guards and eXomesh® slash guards, which feature a stainless steel wire, integrated into the fabric panels of the bag and straps, and is very effective at stopping bag slashers."
Opinions tend to be fairly split as to whether it’s better to carry your passport with you at all times, or to leave it in the hotel safe. This may depend on where you’re visiting, as some countries require you to keep identification on you at all times, in which case finding a secure way to keep your passport to hand is definitely advisable. You also never know exactly how secure the hotel safe may or may not be, and who might be able to access it, so you might want to invest in your own portable safe, such as the Pacsafe Travelsafe. This is effectively a portable safe-bag with a slash-proof wire mesh frame, which can be secured to a fixture in your hotel room, safely storing any valuables such as your tablet, keys and passport. Sounds like a pretty ingenious solution to us!
Radio-Frequency Identification (or RFID) has become increasingly common in recent years, and is the technology behind contactless cards and the biometric chip in your passport. While these features can be really handy, it can also leave you vulnerable to contactless identity theft. Unfortunately, it's possible for data stored using RFID to be scanned and copied by identity thieves from as far away as 10 feet, and so a few extra precautions to protect your information and your money can be very useful indeed. Luckily, there are a wide range of RFID blocking wallets, money belts, and even bags available on the market, which can help keep your data safe and put your mind at ease.
These products block scanners, meaning that your information is much more secure and that anyone trying to scan your data will come up empty handed.
And finally, while its important to plan ahead to make sure that both you and your belongings are as secure as possible during your trip, it’s also important that you make the most of your travels and thoroughly enjoy yourself! Giving some thought to the things that could go wrong should hopefully mean that you’ve got everything covered well in advance, freeing you up to just make the most of the time you have while you’re away! So from all of us at Boswells, bon voyage!
Posted by Elena Woolley
27th March 2017