Backpacker safety tips

For thousands of Brits, the prospect of backpacking spells fun, adventure and freedom, but backpackers should follow some simple guidelines to ensure their trip of a lifetime is a safe and happy one.

Separate your money
Keep your sources of money separate and maybe invest in a money belt. Only take enough money for the day and secure the rest in your hostel or guesthouse safe. Beware of taking credit cards, if you lose all your cards on the road it is very difficult to get replacements, so make sure you have some back-up cash.

Check you have your possessions
Try and get in the habit of looking back when you get up to leave somewhere like an internet cafe or restaurant. Travel can be distracting as there is so much to see and do, the chances are you’ll probably be carrying more stuff than when you’re at home, so you’re more likely to leave something behind.

Don’t keep your wallet in your jeans’ back pocket
To avoid being pickpocketed, keep your wallet in your front pocket, especially a pocket that can be buttoned up. There are a variety of different ‘money belts’ that either hang inside your shirt or wrap around your waist under your shirt where you can hide money. Make sure you opt for a waterproof money belt as travelling can often be sweaty work.

Scan all your important documents
Scan your travel documents (including your passport, visa, travel insurance schedule and travel itineraries) and email them to yourself and with friends and family at home. You should also keep copies in a separate part of your luggage.

Get vaccinated
Visit your GP before you travel to get all the relevant vaccinations/immunisations for the destinations you’re visiting and to learn what health precautions you should follow.

Avoid flashing the cash
If you’re travelling abroad then you’re more than likely to be better off than most of the locals, but advertising this fact by wearing flash jewellery, wearing designer clothes or carrying an expensive camera around your neck is not advisable. It makes you a target for thieves. Leave your jewellery at home and keep your camera in a bag when you’re not using it.

Check the fine print and certificates of instructors
If you’re doing a specialist activity such as scuba diving or something more risky like bungee jumping then check the operators have legitimate qualifications and a good safety record. If the course price seem too good to be true, there’s usually a reason why it is cheaper than the others.

Look after your belongings
Keep a careful eye on your possessions. Never leave your bags or valuables unattended or with someone you don’t completely trust. Also be aware of pickpockets who tend to operate in crowded areas like train stations and festivals. Make sure you have copies of all your important documents such as your passport, driving licence, travel tickets, travel insurance policy, itinerary and contact details stored separately from the originals.

Don’t stroke stray dogs and cats
You may be missing your pets at home, but stray animals may be carrying fleas, rabies, other infections…and big teeth this also includes feeding monkeys!

Pack your cheap backpacker travel insurance
You can purchase great value backpackers direct at 24/7 travel insurance. For a 2-month trip in Asia, will cost you just £18.43* – a small price to pay to really enjoy your gap year all the more!

* Premium £18.43 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual aged under 36 taking out a ‘Standard’ Backpacker Worldwide excluding USA/Canada/Caribbean 24/7 travel insurance policy for 2 months. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (February 2011) and are subject to change.