Travel Safely: 10 Vital Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling


Travel Safely | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Many people ask the question, "How Do You Travel Safely?" 

After 20 years of extensive world travel, I've determined safety is all about planning and preparation before a trip.  I’ve learned a lot about staying safe – sometimes the hard way.

Getting scammed, lost or robbed is a sure-fire way to ruin your adventure.

Ask Yourself: Will I be biking, hiking or visiting remote areas?  Will there be cell service or will I be alone at times? How safe is the area? Preparation and awareness, to the best of your ability, is always key.

Below are some travel safety tips and travel safety gadgets to help you stay in contact with others and increase your safety factor. 


Personal Locator Beacon


If you are going hiking, perhaps in the Upper Peninsula by yourself, let people know where you are going and when you will be back. I am an avid hiker (many times out of state with the possibility of mountain lions) so I like to let my husband know I am ok.  A personal locator beacon is an option for more peace of mind and a way to travel safely. 

The Garmin InReach Mini allows for two way messaging using an Iridium network (global and works anywhere in the world, even in the mountains).  You can also trigger SOS if you fall or get lost while hiking or biking 24/7.  Maps can be downloaded and weather forecasts can be reached. NOAA charts, color imagery. This is a great way to travel safely. Subscription required but it's very flexible per Garmin's plans:  

  • Monthly service; only requires a 30-day commitment (beginning around $15/month, at the time of this writing, and up depending on your needs)
  • Suspend service when you don’t need it 
  • Perfect for single adventures or seasonal use 


Anti-Theft Backpacks


Just until a couple months ago I was unaware of the need for anti-theft backpacks.  Then I heard this concerning story: 

A friend was traveling on a long train ride (not in Michigan) and managed to doze off with his bag wrapped around his leg.  He thought it would be safe, but it wasn't. As he rested, a thief quietly approached and slit the bottom of his nylon bag.  The thief stole all of his stuff, including his passport. Hard lesson to learn, that's for sure.  

Check out LOCTOTE cinch pack; it's stylish and slash-resistant, perfect for keeping your items safe. Lockable and anti-theft backpack.

If you are walking around a city and want your valuables safer, the Pacsafe Citysafe Anti Theft Backpack is a great choice.  It fits a laptop and has lockable zippers, cut-resistant shoulder straps and mesh lined RFID blocking pouch to keep your credit cards safe. 

This backpack can be locked to fixtures, which I think is very cool. Lock it to table in a busy coffee shop to protect your camera, wallet, etc. or lock it to your chair in a well trafficked spot while having lunch with a friend so you don't have to hold it on your lap.  The padded shoulder straps are reinforced with wire to prevent cutting.  Great way to travel safely.

For a flat fanny pack type bag, check out DAITET Money Belt that will secretly hold your passport and wallet with RFID blocking.  My mother-in-law used one during her trip to Mexico. It's great for grocery shopping too. 

Shop and travel safely: Don't have your purse stolen or deal with a strap slipping off your shoulder. 


Locking Bikes (A Must)


If you are going on a biking adventure, we always make sure we have a bike lock, even if we think we won't be stopping. It never fails; if we don't have a lock with us we will definitely find a cute ice cream shop, boutique store or even a walking only trail that we want to explore but can't. 

We like the one made by Bike U Lock as it has a very strong cable and keys.  You can even thread the cord through your helmet and keep everything safe.  


Communication with Spotty Signal


If you are camping and and someone wants to hike a bit in the evening, you can stay in touch without a signal with goTenna.  

Range is up to 4 miles depending on terrain. This works best in flat areas (clear line of site). Great for hiking in Michigan with two people so you can stay in contact and find each other. Plus, there is a basic no-fee plan.

The device pairs with smartphones to enable communication among users without any reliance on cell towers, wifi routers, or satellites. Additionally, goTenna Mesh intelligently enables automatic and private message relay.

All standard features are free to use including 1-1, group, shout, and emergency messaging, global street map downloads and location sharing. If you select goTenna Plus (subscription), there are location tethering, topographical maps, recording trip statistics, and SMS message relay. You can drop pins and save locations shared with you.  SMS relay allows you to message anyone via SMS text, any distance, even states away! Another way to travel safely.


Communication on Road Trips Are Game Changers


Walkie talkies are game changers when we are on road trips with friends or family.  First, it's great fun to communicate frequently.  Second, we can say when we are pulling off the road or have an issue. Third, it doesn't require a service plan so once you purchase the walkie talkies you are good to go. Fourth, these walkie talkies are very cheap and a great way to stay safe while traveling.


Michigan DNR (Department of National Resources)


Always refer to Michigan DNR for all of your outdoor adventures before you go. It is a good reference for the laws, licensing, permits, closures, safety information and regulations that govern the outdoors of Michigan.


Personal Alarms or Panic Buttons


Nobody expects to become the victim of a physical attack, scare or robbery while traveling, hiking, shopping or exploring but it happens all the time. One way to deter attackers is with a personal alarm that emits a loud siren meant to frighten perpetrators and alert others of your situation. 

KOSIN Safe Sound Personal Alarm comes as a 6 Pack with a 140 decibel alarm that can be heard around 600 feet away. The sound lasts 40-50 minutes (can be turned off when necessary)! It can be attached to bags, backpacks, belt loops, suitcases, keys and so on.


Pepper Spray


SABRE Advanced Compact Pepper Spray with Clip is a defense spray that contains 35 bursts and projects 10 feet against multiple threats. Gives you a little more peace of mind while traveling.


Keeping Valuables Safe In Your Car


Traveling with a camera, laptop, valuables or passport?  If you are like us, we travel prepared so we generally have quite a few valuable items with us. Many times I have either carried my valuables or didn't adventure out if I was concerned about leaving my items in my vehicle. 

Consider a Caesar Safe as it is a portable electronic multipurpose safe that is big enough for a laptop, or wallet, small camera and valuables. Plus, there is no installation required. It comes with a steel tethering cable that resists cutting.  Better than nothing, right?  Generally robbers want to snatch and run, especially if your car is in a populated area.  

There are also mountable car and truck safes but this one works great if you are renting a vehicle.

 

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