Moving overseas can be an exciting journey in your life, but it can also be a stressful and nerve-racking experience, even for the most seasoned traveler. If you're worried about keeping yourself safe when you are in your host country, follow these general safety tips to give yourself peace of mind while living overseas.
1. Do your research
Before visiting an unfamiliar place in your new country, prepare in advance by mapping out your planned route and deciding which public or private transportation you'll require. Research will not only help to assuage any nervous feelings, but it will hopefully prevent you from getting lost. Here are some of the things you should look into when moving overseas:
- Is it legal to take photos in public places?
- Is there attire that is prohibited (especially for females)?
- Will your driver's license be valid, or do you need an international driver's permit?
- What are the driving laws and traffic rules in your host country?
2. Pay attention to the cultural traditions and customs
As an expat, you will most likely stick out. To prevent yourself from becoming a potential target, pay attention to the locals and try to adjust to their style of dress and general attitude. This will not only ensure your safety, but it will also help you to get to know the culture of your host country on a deeper level. Here are some things to research and pay attention to:
- Research the local laws and customs before your move overseas, including dress code, pedestrian traffic laws, driving rules, and tipping etiquette.
- Keep an eye on the local news and chat with fellow expats to get a good sense of security threats in your new home.
- To stay safe abroad, avoid participating in riots and other political activities in your host country.
Remember that you usually can't behave the way you ordinarily would in your home country, so try to avoid talking about any sensitive topics such as politics when you meet locals.
3. Use public transportation
Driving in a foreign country can be a real challenge, especially if you're not aware of the local traffic laws. Before driving you should learn about the driving laws, traffic rules, penalties applied in case of accidents, and whether you should drive on the right or the left side of the road.
If you don't want to drive in your host country, use the local transportation system -buses, trams, and subways are all great options. Or you can hire a local cab or a taxi, but make sure it is a registered one and be wary of any potential theft or assault.
4. Be prepared for unexpected disasters
There will likely be a multitude of risks in your new country whether it be a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tsunami, or earthquake, or a man-made disaster such as a terrorist attack. To keep yourself safe after moving overseas, make sure you are aware of which risks you are likely to encounter in your host country and how to react in case of emergencies. Also, make a list of emergency contacts such as the police in your new country.
5. Keep away from unsafe areas
You're less likely to encounter potential trouble if you're in a well-lit area with plenty of people, especially if you are in your new country alone. Also, find out about the crime rate in your host country and avoid going out alone in the dark on quiet streets. Stay close to the public areas and busy streets.
6. Watch your valuables
As soon as your arrival to the new country, you may start visiting popular tourist spots. Keep in mind that there might be some risks of scam in your host country, so here are some things you can do to stay safe abroad.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and carrying a lot of money.
- Keep your money in different places like in your wallets, backpacks, and pockets.
- Leave a credit card and some cash at home so you always have a backup in case of emergency.
- Walk with your purse or bag in front of you when in crowded areas.
7. Get international insurance
Getting travel insurance may be enough if you are traveling abroad for a short period of time; however, for expats on a long-term stay purchasing international health insurance is a good idea. Many insurance companies offer plans that would cover you in case of additional risks such as terrorist attacks and kidnapping. Note that plans may differ based on the specific country you are relocating to. If your company offers insurance as part of your expat package, don't forget to check all the conditions before signing a contract.
8. Memorize your address
Always know your address in case you get lost or disoriented after your move. In a worst-case scenario, you can flag down a taxi to take you home. Never get in a private car. Make sure the vehicle in question is properly labeled as a city taxi.
9. Lock all your doors and windows
Lock all doors and windows in your new home, especially when you leave for the day or before you go to sleep, just as you would in your home country.
10. Be aware of food and water risks
Experiencing the local cuisine is one of the best parts of traveling abroad. But you should be careful while eating street food, which may cause food poisoning.
Here are a few rules to follow when eating or drinking overseas:
- Before and after eating make sure to wash your hands.
- Eat only freshly prepared food.
- Buy fresh fruits that you can peel yourself.
- Avoid ice if you're not sure that if it's made with fresh water.