Below are the top three most common threats facing travellers and how to pre-emptively avoid them.
Every regular traveller will have one horror story, which they always bring up just when their friends are about to fly. It could be anything from a several-hour delay at an airport to leaving something behind or losing something important at their destination. While all of these disasters may seem pretty scary, they can all be avoided with preparation. Below are the top three most common threats facing travellers and how to pre-emptively avoid them.
Luggage Theft and Petty Crime
Travellers in airports are always pressed for time and most likely aren’t very well acquainted with where they are. This makes baggage theft a real and easy possibility. Your luggage changes hands many times before it gets to you and, in most cases, there is relatively little security placed on baggage collection, where an individual can quite easily take any luggage and promptly leave, using the "oh I thought this was mine" excuse, should they get caught.
To deal with this, there are a few things you can do. Try to find the brightest and most obvious bags you can; it’s easy for someone to mistake a black roller bag as their own but it’s a lot harder for someone to mistake an orange and blue hardcase. This works even better if you personalise your case with stickers and by writing your name in obvious places. Lastly, if you're carrying anything incredibly valuable, take it on the plane with you; sometimes it’s definitely worth losing a bit of space in hand luggage to make sure your $500 camera is safe and sound.
This is, surprisingly, a much larger threat than you think. If your phone or any other piece of tech such as a laptop is stolen or left unattended, personal data can be extracted from them. Too, using unsecured Wi-Fi connections in public areas or even just identifying yourself as a regular traveller online can put you at risk. Unsecured public WiFi hotspots are used to monitor data being used on them, providing attackers access to your log in details and a direct link to place malware on your phone. To avoid this, consider using mobile data and your own mobile data hotspots.
Another type of attack is a phishing scam, which is a social engineering attack aimed at stealing data. This can be done by sending an email impersonating a travel agency to a known traveller, with the intention of convincing them to reveal login details, bank card details and so forth. To avoid phishing, ensure that your email addresses and other contact details present on social media are private, or create a travel-only email address so that you can keep all important travel documents safe and in one place.
Illness and Food Poisoning
Lastly, illness and food poisoning are big risks which are stereotypically associated with travelling. Airports are international bacterial mixing pots! The most common causes of food poisoning are E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter and listeria, and at least one of these can be found in most foods. To avoid food poisoning and illness while travelling, wash your hands regularly, don’t eat risky foods such as fish, cold rice and mushrooms; ensure you are vaccinated where necessary and don’t travel if you’re already sick.
These risks may not be particularly “exciting” but they are very important to consider. Particularly, as the latter two aren’t what you’d normally expect and prepare for. Hopefully, you’re now more prepared to deal with these threats but, as a golden rule, before you do anything that could expose you to risk, check with a friend, Google it or avoid it if you’re not one hundred percent sure.