Few things are better than coming home from your travels with new insights, vivid memories and an SD card (or film roll) of amazing photographs. However, few things are worse than coming home without your valuables or earlier than planned due to unforseen circumstances, health issues or theft.

A lot of things can go wrong when you travel, and subsequently cast a gloomy shadow over that fabulous holiday… however none that can’t easily be prevented by taking a few basic safety measures.

As the female travel editor and columnist Zahara Heckscher once said: Stay safe, but don’t stay home!

10 safety tips for travelers

1) Before your trip

Scan or photograph and email yourself all important personal documents prior to your departure. That includes pre-booked tickets,  reservations or confirmations, personal IDs and/or passports, travel and health insurance papers, your itinerary, contact telephone numbers of your bank, credit card company and any information you may need for online/telephone transactions and blocking your account. That way, you will have guaranteed access to them from anywhere in the world. In case of a theft, you will be able to minimize the damage as soon as possible and maybe even continue the trip straight away with little harm done. Another option is giving the scans to someone you can trust (and call up in the middle of the night), for example a family member or close friend.

2) When camping

I’m always very hesitant about bringing valuables along on a trip that involves camping, but sometimes this just can’t be avoided. Even the loss of a wallet with IDs, credit cards and cash can have detrimental effects, so make sure you bring a padlock with you. During the daytime, lock your tent from the outside and always carry the key with you. At nighttime, lock yourself in your tent from the inside. This may sound overly cautious at first, but actually, my friends and I recently had valuables and cash stolen from right next to our heads while we were fast asleep in our tents. Somebody had opened the double zippers, rummaged around our belongings, taken our money and neatly put everything back in place without anyone waking up.

Another good idea is to put things like wallets, phones, mp3 players and keys under your pillow at night. This doesn’t only apply to camping, its a good safety measure when you’re sharing a dorm and there are no safe deposit boxes available.

10 safety tips for travelers

3) Sleeping at an airport, train or bus station

Don’t just fall asleep with your suitcase parked next to you! Either lie on top of your bag or use it as a pillow so that you will notice when someone touches or removes it. Wearing your backpack the wrong way around and hugging it also works, as long as zippers can’t be opened easily and quietly from the front. Also be careful when sleeping in night trains, as thefts on these are no uncommon occurence..

4) Don’t let Facebook know!

We’ve all done it: post on social networking platforms, letting everyone know we’re having the time of our life in a tropical paradise. However, statistics show that each year, numbers of break-ins and burglaries linked to holiday-related status updates or similar notifications increase. If you live on your own, maybe think twice about letting all your “friends” know you will be far, far away for the next month. After all, you can still brag about your amazing holiday when you’re back home – you’ll even have loads of photographs as proof!

5) Practical accessories to invest in

It may not be the most glamourous thing in the world, but it is definitely one of the most useful ones when you travel: the money belt. You can get one on Amazon for less than €20,00. Pouches to wear around your neck and under your clothes also come in handy. Most thieves and pickpockets will know about pouches and moneybelts though, so storing a few extra bills in your bra can be a good idea as well.

10 safety tips for travelers

6) Cabs

When you arrive at the airport in a foreign country, don’t just accept a ride from the next best person claiming to be a taxi driver. It’s best to research official and reputable cab companies before your departure, and perhaps even pre-book a ride to your hostel or hotel. Once you’ve settled in, you’ll quickly figure out which means of transport to use and which not to use, but making that small mistake right at the beginning of your journey could ruin the trip before it even began.

7) Know your souvenirs

Depending on where you travel to, certain items like sea shells, rocks or even shark teeth can be seen as ‘national treasures’ or property of the country you’re in – and not to be removed from there. So watch out what you pick up from the beach. Countries that you should be especially careful in are Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico and some Caribbean states. A little internet research in advance is highly advisable… After all, who wants to pay a hefty fine or even spend a night in prison, just for a couple of rocks?

. 10 safety tips for travelers

8) Insurance

If you’re travelling with valuables such as laptops or expensive camera equipment, sometimes it is worth insuring these things before you leave. Definitely compare prices and insurance rates in advance to check how much the maximum refund would be, and if it would be something worth investing in.

9) Medical prescriptions

Before you leave home, double check that your medication is legal in the countries you’re travelling to – sometimes it is not. If you’re on unusual medication, also bring a note from your docter certifying that you’re meant to be taking that medication. That way, you won’t have problems getting your hands on a new stash in case your old one gets lost or stolen. Also consider taking along an extra pair of glasses and/or contact lenses.

10 safety tips for travelers

10) Safety on the beach

Everybody loves a good tanning and swimming session on the beach. However, make sure you know the area before you dive into the waves! Find out about possible dangers like currents, sharks, reefs or hidden rocks under the water. Don’t just dive off a cliff because you want to feel like Leonardo di Caprio in The Beach, and avoid swimming at night (especially if you’ve had something to drink!). At the risk of sounding like your mom – always wear sun screen! Your skin will thank you when you’re older…

Above all, remember that this is only my personal advice, gathered from experience. Do inform yourself thoroughly about your travel destination before you depart on your trip. If bad luck strikes after all – don’t panic. Stay calm and remember that it happens to everyone at one or another point in time. Do your best to enjoy your holidays nevertheless!