You’ve heard about these classic travel rules from a young age: Always keep an eye on your wallet and passport, better discard shady cheap branded goods, take a critical look at your drinking water and never eat undercooked food in the tropics. But there’s a lot to consider when you’re on the road.
For example, would you have guessed that a hotel safe is hard to trust? Or that conventional medicines could land you in prison?
1. Blind reliance on hotel safe
Maybe less, because the list contains some pretty cliched things that we wouldn’t question in our dreams.
First of all: don’t trust the hotel safe. This general rule is especially concerning because the safe is specifically designed to store important belongings there. You should find security here in your passport, money, tickets and other valuables. But it’s not really safe there, because: some very old models can be opened by cutting off the power supply, others can still be opened with factory settings, and others reveal their contents if you press the button with your fist.
How-to guides abound online, including some weird methods that require potatoes. Tüv Rheinland also warned in 2019: Safes in hotel rooms are often just a small obstacle to thieves because they are attached to the cupboard or to the wall with simple screws. Then they can be broken down by criminals and taken away.
Tüv Rheinland advised at the time that it was safe to use the hotel safe at the reception. Valuables are received there against a receipt and are fully secured – unlike storage in room safes.
conclusion? It is mostly good. If you have really important things with you, you should ask the hotel again if there is no safer storage.
2. A phone on the ship
When traveling by ferry, for example from Germany to Sweden or Norway, access to a smartphone does not seem to be an issue in terms of cost. After all, there have been no roaming charges in other EU countries and some other countries since 2017.
Unfortunately, this only applies to ground-based networks. Since there is usually no mobile phone connection when at sea, large ships often have a mobile phone network on board, which in turn is connected to the satellite network. Unfortunately, these ship networks are staggeringly expensive and have no automatic cost limits: a short phone call costs between three and seven euros / minute, and you can expect up to 2.50 euros per 100 kilobytes of data traffic.
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For classification: a short WhatsApp movie less than a minute in size, about one to three megabytes in size. In the price example, the operating cost is between 25 and 75 euros. It’s hard to imagine how much it would cost to soothe kids with a longer YouTube movie.
However, there is a safe countermeasure against all this: just turn off the smartphone or at least switch to flight mode.
3. Pack everything in your luggage
Everything you need right after landing definitely does not belong in your luggage. In 2019, the last “normal” travel year before Corona, airlines around the world wasted about 25.4 million pieces of baggage, according to a report by IT service provider SITA, which is just over 5.5 bags per thousand passengers.
This alone is not a reason to be afraid of loss: according to the International Airlines Association (IATA), 99.5 percent of all lost baggage reappear. In order not to belong to the remaining 0.5 percent, one should not leave loose straps hanging on one’s luggage or arrive with an excessively worn bag.
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The minimum contact time at the transfer airport is also important. If the carriage time is shorter than the minimum set time, it will be tight and the bag will most likely reach the destination on the airline’s next flight as soon as possible, then usually follow the owner by taxi or courier.
If you don’t want to sit in your underpants and with plaque from day before yesterday, you should carry a small set of equipment with you in your hand luggage.
4. Not being prepared for emergencies
Honestly, when was the last time you looked for an emergency exit in a hotel? No matter how good the sprinkler system is: if there is a fire in the hotel, you should know the way out – especially on the upper floors, because the fire stairs do not go beyond the seventh or eighth floor.
You should also know the emergency number and whether it is worth calling at all. It is like this: only more than 70 countries (two thirds of them in Europe) have a rescue service throughout the country that is always accessible. In all other cases, you often have to find out for yourself how to get to the nearest hospital.
5. Allow itinerary to expire
How can a plane ticket from Oslo via Berlin to New York cost less than the same ticket from Berlin without going? And do you really have to go up to Oslo? Even if this is just a dummy example: yes, you should.
If you let part of your flight ticket expire, the airline may charge you a difference to the regular route fare. This is legally controversial, but in any case it causes unnecessary stress after the trip and possibly very high additional costs.
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6. Not knowing local laws
Adhering to the law while traveling is normal for most travelers. Of course, you need to know that in Thailand, for example, severe torment is punished. That is why the fluttering banknotes should never be stopped there with a brave kick – after all, the king is depicted in the foreground!
In Buddhist countries, people can sometimes have an allergic reaction to supposedly funny images with Buddhas, and on the indigenous islands of the Maldives – that is, those that are not part of the tourist resorts – bikinis are not allowed. In Bhutan, on the other hand, smoking is prohibited in public places, and in Singapore, the smelly durian is carried on the subway.
A particularly effective way to manipulate the law is drone footage. In many countries you need a special permit. In Morocco, Iran, Kenya and Egypt, for example, they are strictly prohibited. If you let them fly without the correct paperwork and you’re still close to a military zone, it can quickly become a prison stay.
7. Carelessly take medicines with you
It does not matter whether it is a fear of flying, pain or stressful situations: in fact, there are medicines that are suitable for everything. But you should not always carelessly take them with you when traveling. A number of countries around the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia and many others, have much stricter drug laws than they do here. What is still considered a common drug in Europe may be an admission ticket to prison elsewhere, even in small quantities.
Before traveling, you should inquire in a timely manner, for example on the embassy’s website. A short confirmation in English from the family doctor that medication is necessary is also recommended.
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8. Check the hotel account balance
This is sometimes not a good idea, especially if your WiFi is not password protected. Because, frankly, are you absolutely sure you picked the right one? Once an entry like “guest” or something similar appears in the list of available networks, most guests will assume it’s the correct network. It is also possible that criminals have set up their own WLAN hotspot near the hotel. In the worst case, they can track everything from email logins to banking passwords, install malware, or redirect your connection to phishing sites. This method is also common in airports and restaurants.
Solution for more security: Use your mobile data or VPN tunnel software instead of WLAN.