We'd all like to believe that most places you visit during your Elective will be completely safe. However, as you're venturing out in unknown territory, in a country where you possibly don't speak the local language and can't make yourself easily understood in an emergency, it makes sense to stay vigilant and cautious while you're travelling. Here are a few easy tips to keep yourself and your valuables safe.
1. Watch your belongings
A money belt may not be the world's most stylish accessory, but it does protect your cash and important documents in crowded places. Expensive cameras are best stored out of sight, rather than carrying them on your arm or around the neck. If you suspect any of your belongings have been stolen, make sure you report this to the local police within 24 hours of discovery, so a report can be issued.
2. Keep your credit card details safe
Don't use your credit card in internet cafes where possible, as some may use spyware to record usernames and passwords. Keep a spare credit card and cash or travellers cheques in the hotel safe or somewhere secure, so you have a back-up in case your purse or wallet goes missing, together with a note of the 24-hour emergency number to report stolen cards.
3. Take some small change
It's a good idea to take some change or small bank notes in the local currency for when you first arrive, in case you need to make a telephone call, need to catch a taxi or get something to eat or drink.
4. Be smart on the road
Take care when crossing the street and choosing transport while abroad, as the risk of road accidents is particularly high in many developing countries. When hiring any vehicle, ask if liability cover is included, as your Elective travel insurance is unlikely to cover liability claims whilst driving.
5. Check driving laws
If you plan to drive abroad, check with the AA or RAC or the relevant country's embassy about the laws and driving licence requirements of the country to be visited, as these can vary greatly from what you may be used to.
6. Trust your instincts (and reliable sources)
Speak to graduates who've visited your destination before you and check the information in your guidebook. It's great to be adventurous and explore new areas during your travels. However, if you've been warned not to visit a particular neighbourhood, there may be a good reason for this. Think first and trust your instincts, before venturing out and potentially getting yourself into a tricky situation.
7. Act like a local
Respect local customs and dress habits and make sure you obey the law. In many countries there may be serious penalties for breaking a law that might seem trivial at home.
8. Respect photo etiquette
Always ask for people's permission if you're including them in a photograph, as they may have religious or other objections to being pictured. Also be careful when taking pictures of buildings or using binoculars, as these activities may be misunderstood, particularly close to military zones.
9. Make sure it's safe ...
If you're intending to take part in any sports or excursions, it's important to check that you're covered for these under your travel insurance policy. If you're thinking about signing up for a diving course or doing a bungee jump , check the operators have legitimate qualifications and a good safety record.
10. Don't touch stray animals
Think twice before petting stray animals, even if you're missing your dog or cat at home. They may be carrying diseases such as rabies, so bites or scratches can potentially be dangerous.
For peace of mind while you travel ...
Wesleyan offers comprehensive insurance for your Elective. This covers you for personal accident – including in the event of an HIV needle-stick injury or exposure to a biological risk when working at a hospital abroad. And the policy even provides you with cover, if you have to cancel or curtail your trip due to exam re-sits.
As part of your Electives insurance, you also receive exclusive access to the Enjoy Concierge Service
, offering you a wealth of services to make travelling as easy and safe as possible.
The Enjoy team can help you with booking travel tickets, hotels and restaurants, assist with translations and interpreting and offer hands-on assistance in the event of an emergency while you’re away.
Find out more about Elective insurance from Wesleyan