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10 tips to ensure your safety abroad

Even though traveling abroad is extremely safe, minor incidents like pick-pocketing occasionally do occur – just like back home. Big city thieves target foreigners that frequent touristy areas because they’re unassuming and new to the city. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow our top 10 safety tips for traveling abroad and to take a few precautionary steps to avoid any petty crime.


Top 10 safety tips for traveling abroad:


1. Avoid tourist traps

Stay away from super touristy areas when you can and be extra vigilant when you’re in those areas. Try to keep your hands free and have any important belongings safely within pockets or bags close to your body. Tourists tend to have their guard down because they’re trying to enjoy their vacation and also tend to carry more cash, making them an ideal target for a thief.


2. Keep your purse on your lap when you eat out

You would be surprised how sneaky expert thieves can be. And they don’t always fit the thief profile that you might have in mind. Even though it can be a pain, keep your bag on your lap when you’re out to dinner – or don’t bring a bag at all. It just eliminates any risk of being robbed.


3. Avoid speaking loudly so people can tell you’re a tourist

It’s a good idea not to draw attention to yourself as a tourist by speaking loudly in a foreign language or accent. It’s a way of broadcasting to the area: “Hey! Look over here! I’m not from here and am probably carrying cash, a smart phone and an international credit card with me.” Keep your voice low when you can.


4. Have cash in multiple places

In the rare case that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and you do get robbed, you’ll be relieved if you had some cash stashed elsewhere so that you don’t lose everything. In general, avoid carrying much cash with you anyway and leave your cards at home unless absolutely necessary.


safety tips for traveling abroad


5. Take official taxis only

If it’s not part of a major cab company, don’t get in the car. It’s always a good idea to make sure when you get into a stranger’s car that it’s an authorized vehicle with a certified driver.


6. Keep your bag or backpack in sight at all times on public transportation

When you’re not looking it’s easy for someone to sneak their little paws in a bag or backpack to pull out credit cards, phones and cash. Keep an eye on your bags when you’re in tight spaces like trains or buses. Keeping your hand over the zipper opening is a way to ensure no one will snag your stuff.


7. Avoid empty, unlit streets at night

Have the number of a taxi company in your phone if you’re out late and not sure how to get home. Shelling out a little cash is worth avoiding a solo walk in the dark.


8. Never leave food or drink unattended

Whenever you get up to go to the bathroom at a restaurant, have your friend keep an eye on your food and drink. It’s not very common, but there’s always the small chance someone will slip something in an unattended drink. A little precaution eliminates all the risk, even if it is unlikely to happen in the first place.


safety tips for traveling abroad


9. Don’t take out your cell phone in the middle of the street

It’s easy to step into a convenience store or lean up on the side of a building to check on your phone – if you must. If not, wait until you get to where you’re going before you take out your mobile device. There’s no need to increase your risk of getting your phone stolen.


10. If you’re lost, find a place to get your bearings

It happens to the best of us. You’re sure that you know where you’re going – until you’re not. When it happens, stay calm and try to continue walking with purpose (as if you know where you’re going) until you find a place, like a coffee shop, to gather your bearings and pull out your map.


Your safety matters to us!

The Intern Group has amazing local teams that offer 24/7 in-country support for interns in all of our destinations. These suggestions and tips are no different than the safety advice that you should follow back home. Being abroad isn’t innately more dangerous than being back home. In general, large cities have slightly higher crime rates and foreigners stand-out as targets because they potentially have their guard down.



Photo 1. based on BE SAFE AND CONSIDERATE, by Stefan Powell, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Taxi Málaga, by Marta Diarra, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on Cathrijnestraat Leiden, by FaceMePLS, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!