Traveling abroad enriches your senses, opens your mind, and is generally good for your personal development. It can also be a source of stress if you’re not careful. So how can you be careful? Below I’ve compiled a list of things that will make you more secure, and hopefully less stressed-out.

  • Chip card: Don’t make the mistake I did in Europe and bring a swipe-only debit card. Many retail employees have never seen a swipe-only card, which caused some delays in some stores. Most importantly, chip cards provide an extra layer of security that swipe-only cards lack. Trust me on this; my swipe-only card was hacked in France.
  • Currency: As ubiquitous as debit and credit cards are, having cash on you in a foreign country is indispensable. Currency exchanges at airports tend to have a minimum amount for exchanges, so it may make sense to withdraw from a multi-currency ATM at your destination. That said, make it a point to spend all of your currency before you leave, or else you’ll be stuck with Monopoly money that you can’t exchange if the amount is too little.
  • Money belts: A friend of mine invested in a money belt for his trip to Europe. Money belts come in all different sizes for men and women. They range from being a belt with an accessible, front-facing fanny pack that can fit passports and other documents, to regular belts that have a zipper and small compartment on the inside for cash.
  • Passport holders: In Western Europe, I don’t think it’s necessary to keep your passport with you at all times. Your regular, state-issued ID can be used to determine your identity should anything happen to you. On the off chance that you ever need to prove your citizenship, you can always get it from your room — but I seriously doubt that would ever happen. Still, if you feel like you must keep your passport with you, there are many different types of secure passport holders to choose from.

Of course there are always cultural differences that might make you pull your hair out. Sometimes it seems like the US and Britain are the only countries where people form a line to be served! Hopefully you’ll find some other cultural differences that you’ll be able to enjoy at your destination — like Spain’s late-night dinners, la bise in France (the double kiss, one on each side of the face), or the delicious, dessert-like milk of Ireland and the UK.

Have I left anything out? What has worked for you to make you feel more secure overseas?