With the tragic poisoning of a Delaware family vacationing in St. John this week, you might be wondering how to stay as safe as possible on your next big trip—from staying healthy to avoiding scams
And while the Terminix poisoning seems to be a horrible accident, there are still a bunch of ways you can minimize risk on vacation.
No matter where you go, stay sharp. Even the most beautiful seaside resort has thieves. As a tourist, you make yourself an easy target by openly carrying wallets, billfolds, purses, or backpacks.
Whenever you make a transaction or need to take out your wallet our purse, make sure to do so in a way that shields your money from potential robbers.
If you are the victim of a robbery, remain calm and comply with the robbers. Violent crime against foreigners is low in most countries—if an armed robber asks for your wallet, give it to him. Don't fight, don't be a hero.
Be conscious of your image
Thieves can smell a tourist from a mile away. Blend in with the locals by dressing and acting like they do. Don't advertise your wealth with expensive and obvious brands of sunglasses, bags, or jewelry.
In many foreign countries, locals dress much more conservatively, even in the summer—so consider covering up with long pants and shirts.
Don't get drunk
We're not telling you to avoid alcohol on vacation. But getting completely inebriated away from home—especially in a foreign country—can have high consequences.
If you plan on drinking, leave everything valuable in your hotel and never accept drinks from anyone but the bartender. Stay away from drugs and anything that could be illegal. Foreign prisons are no joke.
Know how to get around
Always have a map of your surroundings handy, plus the phone numbers of any reputable taxi companies. Lost tourists are vulnerable to helpful “taxi” drivers who could try to rob you instead of taking you to your destination. Also write down the country's emergency phone number.
If you do get lost, walk with a purpose. Looking lost attracts the wrong kind of “help.”
Don't let anyone rush you
At markets or other local businesses where only cash is accepted, don't let anyone try to hurry you. Common scams involve hustling tourists who don't know the exchange rate or are unfamiliar with the local currency. Use a calculator to be absolutely sure of how much you owe.
Be wary of scams
Tourists are often surprised by how elaborate scams can be in foreign countries. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. Anyone asking you for money, anyone offering a “special deal,” or anyone particularly persistent should be treated with skepticism.
On the same token, avoid hotels and restaurants that aren't vouched for by friends, family members, or online reviews. Always take tours in groups.
Protect yourself from accidents and injuries
Always check before you leave home to see if your insurance covers you outside the country. If not, buy travel insurance and keep multiple copies of your documentation with you on your trip. Every insurance policy is different, so don't assume your hospital stay for food poisoning will be covered!
The odds of something bad happening to you on vacation are very low. At the same time, it's still vital to know the risks.
And now that you do, you're that much more prepared to avoid them.