Top Vacation Safety Tips

Chris’ personal picks from places in the world that he has visited.

Determine your level of concern and choose your destination accordingly: Everyone has different levels of concern about personal safety and this should inform your choice of vacation destination. Every destination has different safety aspects from health to security. The bottom line is that you should choose a place where you can totally relax and have no worries about your safety.

Check the Canadian government website for warnings For Canadians, this is the first go-to website when planning your trip. It will tell you what concerns you should have, places where you should take extra care - and places simply not to go to. It is kept up to date and it is Canadian focused. For instance, there is no Travel Warning for Jamaica, but it lists the parts of Kingston that are not secure.

Purchase travel insurance before you leave: Always, always purchase travel insurance when you buy your trip, or check that your existing insurance will cover your travelling needs. Even travelling out of province in Canada – and especially if visiting the States (even for a day trip), make sure that all members of your party are covered. Credit card insurance is often inadequate for this.

Consult your doctor or health care provider about any health risks and check Six weeks before travel you should check this government website for advice. Consider any recommended vaccinations. Pack a travel first aid kit. Obtain travel health insurance. Follow safe food and water practices. Wash your hands frequently. Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Leave your valuables at home: The likelihood is that you will be visiting a region that is much poorer than Canada and where the people have fewer material goods - so don’t flaunt your relative wealth. Leave your valuables such as personal jewellery behind and if you have expensive cameras or electronics, keep them out of sight in nondescript bags or backpacks unless in use. Use the room safe at your hotel and photocopy your Passport.

Don’t turn off at safety briefings such as on planes and cruise ships: It’s so easy to do – you have heard the aircraft safety talk so many times. But aircraft types differ, cruise ships are unique, so invest the few minutes in listening to these briefings so you know exactly what to do and where to go in the extremely unlikely event that you will need to action this advice. It’s peace of mind.

Consider taking escorted excursions: If you want to get out-and-about in regions like Latin America and the Caribbean but have safety anxieties, then take the tour operator or resort organized excursions and rest easy. You will likely be escorted throughout and you will see a lot in a short time, in the company of knowledgeable guides - all the time cocooned in a secure environment.

Ask the locals for their advice and insights: The locals know where to go…and where not to go – and they will be delighted to advise you. You would do the same for them in Canada, right? So take their advice about local safety issues and along the way you will probably make new friends and discover some wonderful insights that you wouldn’t see listed in any guide book.

Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get drunk: Sorry to preach, but so many of the serious incidents to vacationers that I had to deal with when I worked at the big vacation companies involved too much booze. It’s just not worth the risk. You should always be in control and aware enough of your environment to be able to make the sensible decisions when you are away from home.

Be culturally sensitive – you are a guest in their country: You will be a welcome and honoured guest just about anywhere you travel in this world – so long as you respect local customs and their different ways of viewing life. Avoid challenging religious and political views (especially in the US and Islamic countries), note regional clothing norms and embrace the differences that make travel so rewarding.