Backpacking Safety Tips and Advice

from Travel Insurance Direct
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Travel Insurance Direct

Backpacker's Safety Advice

The prospect of Backpacking to many young Britons equates to adventure and freedom. However, few give much thought to sound Backpacker Safety Advice.


A recent MORI poll showed that almost two thirds of people who travel abroad independently are likely to face a major problem at some point during their trip and younger persons are twice as likely to get into some sort of trouble.


Plan Your Trip in Advance

It is important to plan in advance of your trip to ensure that major incidents are kept to a minimum. You should start planning about six months before you travel.


It’s a good idea to spend some time researching the countries you are planning to visit. What will the weather be like at the time of year you’ll be there and are there any festivals on at the time? Factors like this could affect how easy it is to find accommodation.


Packing for your Backpacking Trip

Try and weigh up whether equipment will actually be of any use or not. A good item to take can be an intruder/rape alarm, these are small items that can be easily carried on the person or in a bag.


Buy items as you need them. Often clothing and camping equipment can be bought abroad which generally saves on costs and means you won’t be lugging around kit that is unneeded. Remember to take some long sleeved shirts and trousers as if you are travelling in Asia or Africa , they will help protect against mosquitoes bites


Although bottled water is available almost everywhere, for remote locations you may want to take a small water filter and water purifying tablets or devices. Remember to take supplies of any medication that you normally take at home and it’s always a good idea to stock up on anti-maleria tablets. In less developed countries many drugs and medicines are available, however their supply isn’t always great.




Backpacker Travel Insurance


One in five backpackers go abroad without taking out insurance, according to a recent poll . A survey commissioned by the Foreign Office found that almost half of those who had had problems while travelling admitted they could have been better prepared. The most common problems experienced were falling ill, missing flights, being robbed or being the victim of a personal crime.


If was found that the younger the traveller the more likely (to the tune of 50%) they were to get ill, get hurt or become caught up in a civil disturbance. The overall message from experts in the travel industry was not to be put off by statistics but ensure that you have the right cover in place before you leave.


Are you Prepared?

Try going for a good walk with your bag once it’s packed. Doing this before you leave can save you a lot of pain later on. Also, try to get the bag dirty before you travel – a brand new bag may make you stand out making you a potential target.

Also remember innoculations. If you’re only planning on spending a few days in a country that has yellow fever, weigh up whether it’s worth the cost of the injections. These can be around £60, which may seem like a lot but if you become ill whilst travelling, you’ll wish you’d thought differently. Look on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website at the day before you leave and also while you are travelling as situations can change.


Things Can Go Wrong

Young travellers were recently urged by the FCO to be informed about a country before they set off. Their advice is that backpackers and independent travellers should check out their website which gives the latest travel advice on countries as well as general safety advice. Young people were not only at risk from crime when travelling but also of being accused of a crime, such as possession or smuggling of drugs. Their spokesperson explained “You get young people who have never been away from home before and don't realize, let alone understand the severity of sentences abroad. Even carrying a bit of dope from Australia to Thailand could result in them ending up on death row before they know it”.

If for any reason you are arrested or questioned by the police, don’t sign anything. There’s a good chance that it’s not your fault unless you’ve done something really stupid. In many countries they are poorly paid and may not be after more than a packet of cigarettes, so try to understand their motives. Just remember to keep a level head and above all be polite.

It’s a good idea to keep a list of the telephone numbers of embassies in the places that you will be visiting. Tell someone back home what you’re doing or at least give them a rough itinerary of where you might be at any given time, just in case you do get into trouble.


Staying Clear of Trouble - Essential Advice


Try and blend in with the locals and don’t draw too much attention to yourself. It’s a good idea to read up on local customs – try to talk to the locals and generally be polite – people will respond better if you’ve made an effort.

If you are travelling alone try to take part in activities, such as scuba diving or any activity where you will meet other travellers. You will soon build up lasting friendships, and remember that many people will be in exactly the same boat.


When arriving at a foreign airport for the first time, think ahead and try to arrive at a reasonable hour of the day, It’s a good idea to have the correct change, should you need to take a taxi, so read up before hand and find out the approximate cost. If in doubt US dollars are accepted almost everywhere. If you would rather, there's a company called VIP backpackers who will meet you off the plane and take you straight to your hotel.

When carrying money whilst you are abroad don’t carry it all in one place. It’s a good to have a money belt concealed under your clothes with your important documents and the majority of your cash. You can keep a decoy wallet in your pocket with a bit of money that you need for the day and some unimportant ID. It’s a lot better to lose a little than a lot in the case of a loss or robbery.


Keep some loose change in your top pocket to avoid dropping notes whilst fishing for coins. There is an increasing number of cash machines even in the less developed countries and credit cards are widely accepted. It’s best not to rely on one type of money, as banks may be shut when you need to change a cheque or a hotel or restaurant might not accept cards.


Also, scan all your documents and send them to yourself via e-mail, that way wherever you go, you will always have access to them, even if they are stolen.


Overall enjoy yourself and be prepared. Chances are you will lose something and probably get ill and no doubt suffer from home sickness. There’s no need to worry though, these experiences are character building and part and parcel of backpacking.