1. Register with ROSA
Register with ROSA (Registration of South Africans Abroad) before you leave. Registering will make it easier for South African authorities to assist you should you encounter problems abroad.
2. Take Care with Passports and Visas
Make photocopies of your passport and visas before you leave and keep them separate from the originals. It’s also smart to leave copies with a friend or family member at home.
If your passport is lost or stolen while travelling report it immediately to a local police station and get a copy of the police report. You will need to bring the report to the nearest South African embassy to apply for a temporary passport.
3. Share Your Itinerary
Give friends or family members a copy of your itinerary and check in with them by phone, SMS, or email when possible. This is especially important if you are travelling alone.
4. Get Travel Insurance
Medical care in other parts of the world can be exorbitantly expensive. If you don’t have private health insurance that covers you while travelling it is smart to buy a traveller’s policy so you won’t be refused care abroad.
5. Take Your Prescriptions
If you need to travel with any medication be sure to bring your prescription along with you. Some medications are banned in certain countries, so it is also advisable to carry a letter from your doctor detailing your need to take the drug.
6. Avoid Currency Exchange Desks
If you are arriving to your destination late at night or early in the morning you may want to exchange a small amount of money before you depart so you have enough of the local currency to pay for a cab, snack, etc. without having to search for a bank in the dark. Otherwise, it is usually best to avoid currency exchange desks in airports and malls—you almost always get a better rate by just going to an ATM associated with a major bank.
Do remember though that you will be charged a usage fee by your own bank and the local bank so it is best to make larger withdrawals and keep the extra cash in a hotel room safe until you need it.
7. Carry Cash Carefully
Whether or not you need to worry about carrying cash depends a lot on where you are going. Do your research and find out if mugging is a big problem at your destination. If so, some suggest carrying two wallets – one cheap one with some small bills and expired credit cards and then your real one. If you get held up hand over the cheapie and you won’t have lost much.
8. Don’t Be Careless with your Camera
When carrying a camera use a wrist of neck strap so thieves cannot easily grab it. Also, be aware of your surroundings – nothing screams tourist like pulling out a camera at an odd time, so know when to keep the snaps under wrap.
If you want to ask a stranger to take a picture of you and your travel buddies look for someone who is carrying a camera themselves—if they’ve already got one, they probably won’t try to snatch yours and you can always offer to return the favour.
9. Dress Like a Local
Tourists stand out as prime targets for criminals, so do your best to blend in. Check out what the locals are wearing and dress accordingly. This is especially important in Islamic countries, where women in particular are advised to dress conservatively.
10. Be Mindful with Luggage Tags
It is important to use luggage tags to ensure you and your bags will be reunited when you land, but do you need to worry about putting too much personal information on them? Experts say it is best to keep it to a minimum—just enough so someone can get in touch with you if your bags are lost.
Use a first initial, last name, email address, and cell phone number. No need to include your home address. Try to use tags that have some sort of cover so your information isn’t exposed to prying eyes.