Whether you’re traveling domestically or abroad, going on a trip can be a joyful source of lifelong memories. For some people, it can be a bucket list adventure of a lifetime. However, common sense dictates that it’s important to be cautious while traveling in order to ensure that your experience is a positive one.

Learn about the destination

Before arriving at your destination, especially if it’s a foreign country, it’s a good idea to read about the people and the area you’ll be visiting. Since everyone nowadays owns electronic devices, you should also make sure you have the proper chargers and adaptors before leaving. Just like in most situations, knowledge equals power when it comes to your personal safety, so do your homework and familiarize yourself with statistics like high crime areas to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Always make sure you have a list of emergency contact numbers wherever you’re headed, and be sure to enroll in programs like The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which helps your embassy or consulate find you in case you end up needing assistance. In addition, family members and/or friends should always have a list of your general itinerary, as well as contact information.

Plan ahead

When it comes to seeking recreational advice, asking locals is nearly always a good bet, but it helps to get a foothold by researching popular restaurants/hotels/clubs/bars on your own ahead of time. Of course, you should be flexible, but it doesn’t hurt to have a plan. Even if you don’t get to see everything on your list, it’s better to have too many options than to be completely at the mercy of strangers. Brushing up on local culture also means not accidentally offending someone while engaged in conversation, which can also save you from potential trouble.

Don’t look like a tourist

There will always be risky people on the lookout for tourists, so the less you look like one, the less attention you will attract. This goal is where smartphones especially come in handy, since you want to avoid asking too many people for directions. When taking pictures, be sure to always keep an eye on your belongings. When choosing clothing, it helps to dress in a way that it makes it much more difficult for someone to steal your money or identification. Speaking of documents, make multiple copies of everything ahead of time and store them online and in print form. You never want to be stuck in a situation without proper ID when traveling, especially abroad.

It may seem too good to be true when you see “free” public WiFi and there are major risks associated with this. Hackers can easily access your identification once you join a network, which is why you should protect your data by setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) ahead of time. This network is the only way to encrypt your data and protect your personal information online.