During my consulting career, I often found myself in new locations where the language that was spoken wasn’t one I knew. There are quite a few more elements that come into account when traveling in foreign lands. Over the years, I ensure the following to help me navigate and get around in the new location.
1 – Since I didn’t always travel with a cell phone, I knew I had to rely on other ways to get around. I always print my itinerary, hotel reservation confirmation, and hotel map. Yes, printed those items on actual paper! Granted that one can usually use the phone to have this information at hand, I recognize that not all countries have adequate internet capabilities.
2 – In case of theft of my passport or credit and debit cards, I always arrange for someone I trust to have a copy of all my cards, with the bank number and account information. I forgot my purse in a taxi once and was not in a position to start calling the banks to cancel my cards, therefore I was able to ask my trusted contact to do this for me, from my home base. Also, having a copy that can be faxed or sent to someone (such as an embassy etc) helped me get a temporary passport to get myself back home.
3 – When I check into a hotel, I make sure to ask the concierge or doorman about local restaurants, local sights to see, and if any, which section of town are safer than others. Don’t be shy to ask which areas are not ideal for night walks or visits. Most hotels or B&B have local maps to give out to visitors; leverage those maps.
4 – Get a few business cards of the hotel to show your drivers. If you are in a city where your spoken languages are not common, it’s important you get the local information about your hotel. Also, when I was traveling on my own and going out for the evening, I often arranged for someone from the hotel to know of my plans. When possible, I asked the same driver who drove me from the hotel to come and pick me up at a designated time. Doormen and concierge and hotel staff can often recommend trusty drivers they know.
5 – I typically keep a large paper bill between one of my shoe and its sole. Enough to ensure I could pay a taxi, meal etc. If something happens to my purse, backpack or wallet, I am secure knowing I have enough to get me back to my apartment, hotel room, or B&B.
6 – When I did use my phone while traveling, I ensured to send out the details of my trip along with any updates to at least one or two people back home. I always make sure I have my main contacts’ name and phone number printed somewhere, in case my phone cannot connect. If you don’t have access to a phone, leverage local internet cafes to send updates back to your contacts when possible. Libraries typically allow visitors to use their computers and internet connection as a free service, or a low fee.
7 – Find large local points of interest to help situation yourself when traveling by foot. Given the street names may not be easy to remember (especially when written in a foreign language), selecting a few points of interest such as a bridge, a church or high rise that can serve as a focal point for your return.
What are some of the ways you ensure you are safe while you travel?