Staying Safe

How I Plan Ahead Before Traveling

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The free-wandering lifestyle of a vagabond adventurer is filled with spur-of-the-moment decisions, an incredible variety of places and people, and – most importantly – a healthy dose of planning.

That’s right:  planning.

While there is plenty of spontaneity baked into my journeys, I do find myself spending a large part of it actually planning the next adventure.

I mean, let’s be honest: sleeping on the street sucks – and as a general rule – the better planned the adventure, the better time I have.

Part of that process involves planning for the worst.  Which is especially true traveling in another country where you may not have a full understanding of the language, customs, or culture.

So today I wanted to chat about some of the critical precautions I take on any trip to ensure the well-being of myself and travel partners as I make my way across this beautiful world of ours.

Emergency Planning

The first thing I do planning any trip is to make note of the phone numbers I need in case of an emergency.  911 is, of course, easy to remember, but other key information include:

  • A 24-Hour Towing Services / Roadside Assistance (Peerless Towing Service is whom I recommend if you live in my home-base of Jacksonville)
  • Non-Emergency Police Phone number
  • Closest Emergency Room Location and Phone Number
  • Food Shelters Location and Phone Number

Additionally, telling a family member or friend about where you are going is a good idea. You can let the person know your departure time, your flight details, your accommodation plan, how you are going to transport yourself, and when you expect to arrive.

If there is an unexpected delay, change of route, or any change of plan, ensure that you let this person(s) know. It is always good to have someone whom you can communicate with constantly on the trip, by this, you will be sure that somebody is expecting you to call when you have gotten to your destination.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to travel with the following to help you prepared for any emergency:

  • A first-aid kit, including some medications for headaches, motion sickness, snake-bites, and stomach bugs.
  • A few calorie foods (bars) that can be good for consumption even after a while.
  • A small plastic bag or pouch to keep your IDs, tickets, and all travel documents.
  • A hygiene kit, including toothpaste, toothbrush, and other products for personal hygiene.
  • A blanket / sleeping bad rated for the appropriate temperature

Know Your Destination

This may sound like something that everyone already knows without telling. But, it may surprise you to know that a lot of travelers often forget to make research to know about their destination before they take off.

What can help you to avoid any kind of misunderstanding is making research about the city or country in general, their cultures, customs, and the social etiquette that is accepted there. Making your research and getting acquainted with all these will help you know when it is safer to explore the city, where you should be more careful, and what you are to expect.

If you are living in the US, it would be best to the travel advisories of the US government about where you want to visit, and read about the natural disaster and weather conditions that country/city often face.

Learn Key Phrases

After you have made your research about what we have mentioned in the first point, you should cover this as well. You must know some basic words in the language spoken by the native people in the place you plan to visit. Whether you want to make some bargains politely, or you want to ask people for directions, it will be helpful to know a few phrases.

You can get some pocketbooks that have useful phrases in them or even install the language app on your phone. No matter the country you are, knowing how to say “how much?” and even “hello” in that language can help you become friends with the people, and they can help you when you get into trouble.

Tying It All Together

There you do.  The great thing about traveling nowadays is that the mobile phone has now made planning, so much easier.  With nearly instant information at your fingertips, it’s super easy to find and organize the information by trip (I prefer using Evernote).

Good luck and bonum itineribus!

Despite what you see on the news, the United States of America is a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people and places. is a travelers site by Jim G. Thomason who since leaving college at the University Of London a year early in 2012 has been hiking, biking, hitching, and vagabonding America at his own leisurely pace. In no hurry, Jim shares the details, the people, and the secret of locales he's visited that most visitor people miss and only the locals know of. Enjoy!

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