1. Start by selecting the right airline - you can check out a list of all airlines around the world and their safety records on the Aviation Safety Network. Selecting the right airline is a vital first step.
2. Where possible, pre-book your seat. Statistically, the rear of the aircraft is safer and aisle seats will allow you to get out of the aircraft quickly. Never sit in a seat more than five rows away from an emergency exit and always count and remember the number of seat rows between you and the nearest exit.
3. Familiarise yourself with your nearest exit and visualise how you would get there in an emergency (bearing in mind that there will be general panic and other people clambering to reach it as well).
4. Do not remove your shoes before take-off. If you need to get off the aircraft quickly, or if there’s a fire, you will be glad of your shoes. Remember also to have them on for landing. Most incidents happen at take-off or landing. Avoid travelling in high-heeled shoes.
5. In an emergency evacuation, you must leave all personal belongings behind. Carry-on bags will slow your exit and create a hazard for you and others. Don’t wait for others to move; many will be paralysed by fear. Get yourself out regardless of what others are doing.
6. Listen to the instructions of the cabin crew and follow their commands. Their purpose is to protect you.
7. Avoid travelling by road at night - you significantly increase your chances of an accident after dark. In developing countries, road lighting may be non-existent and often vehicles either don’t have working lights or don’t use them.
8. Check whether there are proper seat belts. If there are not, find another seat - or better still another vehicle.
9. If travelling alone in a taxi, always sit directly behind the driver and never in the front seat. If his intentions are not bona fide, sitting directly behind him makes you less accessible and gives you a better chance of fleeing the vehicle if necessary.
10. If you are unsure about anything, however, it is well worth seeking medical advice before setting off. Bear in mind that some vaccinations can’t be given to people with certain medical conditions. There are also some diseases which can’t be vaccinated against.
11. In recent times viruses like Ebola and Zika have made headline news, sweeping through certain parts of the world. It’s therefore vital that you check on the latest advice for your destination with your GP’s surgery or the Foreign Office.
12. That said, the most common infectious illness to affect travellers is diarrhoea, mainly caused by food and water-borne agents. Make sure you tell your doctor exactly where you are going as in certain regions some bacteria have developed a resistance to antibiotics.
13. Do bear in mind, though, that many stomach upsets are largely preventable by following good personal hygiene practice and taking care of what you eat and drink.
14. Put together a comprehensive first aid kit to take with you and make sure it is tailored to the environments in which you are going to be travelling. That way you will know exactly what’s in it and where to find each item.
15. If a doctor prescribes medication, be sure to take the full course. Some medicines require that you continue to take them even after returning home. Make sure you do this. A lot of people think that, simply because they are home, they are safe. This is not the case.
16. If you become ill once home, make sure that you tell your doctor you have been overseas and list the countries and regions you have visited, even if your illness develops months after your return.
17. When you first arrive at your hotel, be sure to keep your luggage with you at all times; don’t rely on hotel staff to keep it safe. Many people have their luggage stolen when checking in or checking out of their hotel.
18. Keep your wits about you and watch out for people standing too close or who appear to be listening in on your conversations. They might be trying to find out which room you are in and whether you are travelling alone. If they see you later on in the restaurant or by the pool, they will know your room is unoccupied.
19. Never accept a room on the ground floor, as these are the easiest for criminals from outside to break into.
20. Elevators can be dangerous places, particularly for women on their own. If a suspicious-looking character gets in, leave the elevator as soon as possible.
21. Where possible, select a hotel that has installed electronic locks. Old-fashioned metal keys are usually hung up behind the reception desk, so if a criminal wants to see who is in and who is out, they only have to look behind the desk.
22. As soon as you check in to your room, test that the door lock and the deadlock are working. If they’re not, ask for a new room. Whenever you are inside your hotel room, make sure you use the deadlock. It is also worth investing in a device that jams the door. This can be a simple door wedge inserted on your side of the door, or something more elaborate, such as a door jammer.
23. Check that your room has a peep hole so that, if anyone knocks, you can see who’s there. If you are unsure whether the person at the door is legitimate, call reception and ask them to confirm that your caller is genuine. Tell the person at the door what you’re doing: if they are genuine they will understand; if not they are likely to leave before security arrives.
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