There are risks to travelling abroad, especially when trying to move around your destination. Internal transportation abroad shouldn’t be scary or take away from your travel experience. To make the most of your travel, whether for work or for vacation, learn how to move around safely and efficiently. Public transportation, private taxis, or even driving yourself are all great options for internal travel.
Public transportation is a great option for internal travel while abroad. Public transportation is usually cheaper and more sustainable than private methods of transportation. Some things to think about when using public transportation in a different country are:
- Fares & payment: Some public transportation systems accept credit or debit card payments, but many only accept cash. Make sure you know the fares in your area and keep enough money on you for a ride.
- Routes: Not all countries have public transportation service in all areas. If you are relying on public transportation, ensure that there is service to all areas that you need to go. Consider keeping a service map on you or download the app on your phone where available.
- Reliability: Before you get to your destination, make a quick Internet search to see how reliable the public transportation system is. Chances are, you will be able to find a blog or a news article about your destination before you go. Once you get there, talk to the locals! Buses can break down or be held up for a variety of reasons, which could leave you stranded if you’re not careful.
- Punctuality, frequency, and wait times: Reliability is important, and so is knowing how frequent and punctual the public transportation is. Be aware of how long you will be waiting for a ride, especially if you are travelling alone. Limit these times to curb the chances of being scammed or pickpocketed.
Taxis and Private Modes of Transportation
If public transportation is not a safe or reliable way to travel, private taxis are another option to move around while abroad. Taxi scams are common, so keep these things in mind to avoid being scammed:
- Learn the fares: Just like with public transportation, you should learn the typical taxi fares before you travel or from a local when you arrive. If you are travelling to a country where taxis are unregulated, there may be massive and unavoidable fares.
- Learn the payment method: Once you learn what the expected fare is, figure out how you can pay the driver. Always keep cash on you, especially change. Some taxis may be unable (or may refuse) to break a large bill, leaving you in a dilemma.
- Learn your route: Malicious drivers may take a longer route than necessary to increase the meter reading. Learn the route to your destination to avoid higher-than-necessary fees. This is also a general safety practice that is good to adopt.
- Do not advertise that you are travelling alone: Some drivers may try to take advantage of the fact that you are a traveller in a foreign country. Never admit to being a new traveller or that you are travelling by yourself. Beware of seemingly innocent questions like “How long have you been here” or “why did you choose to travel here?” These questions, if answered honestly, can let a stranger know that you may be a vulnerable person.
Driving Yourself – International Driving Permit
Sometimes public transportation or private taxis just won’t cut it and you want the freedom of driving yourself wherever you travel. Look into getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) if that is the case. An IDP allows drivers to drive abroad when paired with a valid driver’s licence from their home country.
- Learn in advance whether you will be driving and apply before you leave: In most places, the IDP must be obtained from an agency in your home country. It is easiest to get the certificate in person at one of these locations. In Canada, the CAA is the only agency permitted to issue IDPs. In the USA, you should contact an AAA branch.
- Learn the rules of the road: Rules of the road vary in every country. Make sure you learn the rules of the road in the country that you are driving in before you begin driving there. Before you travel, verify whether an IDP is required by law in your destination country. Failing to obtain an IDP, or breaking the rules of the road as a foreigner, have varying consequences.
- Get Insured: Driving without car insurance is an offence in many countries. It is rare that your car insurance in your home country will cover you abroad. Make sure you get rental car insurance if you are driving in another country. If you are using a credit card to rent a car, check with the credit card company to see if you are covered by a rental coverage policy.
Safety while traveling
Travelling abroad should be fun and exciting. Consider these things before and during your travel to keep you safe abroad:
- Learn about curfews: If your travel area has a curfew imposed, be sure to follow it. Breaking curfew, especially as a foreigner, can have hefty consequences. If you are relying on public transportation, ensure you can get back to your accommodations before curfew.
- Protect yourself from scammers and pickpockets: travellers are a prime target for scams and to be pickpocketed, especially by or on private and public transportation. Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
How Sitata can help
While travelling abroad can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be. If you do your research ahead of time, you can cut down on much of this stress. Using a tool like Sitata can also help you before and during your trip. By providing real-time safety alerts based on your GPS and itinerary and pre-travel health and safety information, Sitata provides you with the support you need to travel abroad stress-free.