Travel of any kind exposes a person to hundreds of new experiences, the vast majority of which are amazing and fantastic. However, with all travel there are always some inherent risks you should be aware of before setting out on your journey. We’ve put together this page for you, traveler, so you can enjoy the voyage more fully while being totally in control of situations where danger may arise. While these instances are incredibly uncommon, we think your should know how to handle yourself if such an occasion occurs. One of the many joys of travel is experiencing the unknown. When traveling, especially to other countries, we’re exposed to all kinds of differences in customs, culture, and climate. The following are some other circumstances you should be aware of that can cause a traveler unease, but by learning about your specific destination you can usually relieve any unneeded stress.
- Emergency services (hospitals, transport, emergency services etc) will in many cases be different, and in some cases lacking, when compared to what you’re used to.
- Different laws, rules and regulations that you may be unaware of, and may be less advantageous to you than the laws you’re used to.
- The political stability of some countries may be unpredictable.
- Natural disasters, (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc.) and weather conditions (even the rainy season, despite our meticulous planning) can hamper Yoga Adventures and some activities therein.
- You may not have access to some of the material conveniences you’re used to at home. Because of the remote destinations of some of our adventures, cell phone service, internet, and television may not be available.
- Some Yoga Travel Tree retreats may include strenuous activity, such as hiking and carrying luggage, that are more exhausting than you’re used to, and these activities are on occasion undertaken in remote and isolated areas.
- As is the case in any location worldwide, there’s always a small chance of criminal activity and unsavory people.
Get familiar with the customs of your destination before you even begin to pack! Education is a traveler's best friend, and if you know what’s acceptable and what’s illegal before your arrive, you’re much more likely to have a good trip.
Before you leave
There are a number of things that you may do before even leaving home that will help you to have a safe and enjoyable travel experience.
- Choose an emergency contact and notify them of your travel plans
- Purchase travel insurance (we like World Nomads)
- Check travel advisories and requirements for entry into your destination country
- Consult your regular physician and make sure you don’t have any travel or activity limitations
- Get appropriate vaccinations
- If vaccinations are needed, make and bring copies of immunization records
- Stock up on prescription medications
- Renew passport or have pages added, if necessary
- Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans
- Make two copies of each important document (passport, proof of insurance, tickets, credit cards, prescriptions, etc.) bring one copy with you, leave the other with your emergency contact. Scan the aforementioned documents and email them to yourself and your emergency contact.
- Register your travel plans with your embassy or consulate before leaving home. Should a serious event occur, your government will be able to make contact and account for you.
- Stop your mail and/or newspaper
- Find care for pets
- Withdraw new USD bills for emergency fund and money exchange
- Start reading up on your destination and the places you’re visiting
Health & Wellness
When traveling to another country you should always check with the Centers for Disease Control beforehand for the most up to date immunization requirements. While many of the locations we travel to have health care systems that are remarkably similar to the United States, it’s always wise to check for any health-related alerts or notices before travel. We recommend that you consult your regular physician before any travel, and make sure you get up to date on all the usual vaccinations (MMR, tetanus, chicken pox, and polio) as well as your yearly flu shot.
Transportation Safety Tips
As is usually the case with travel, you’ll be exposed to a number of different transportation options throughout the duration of your trip. Common sense and a decent sense of direction are your best friends while on the move in unknown territory. Keep the following tips in mind when using the below methods of transport.
- Pay attention to the inflight briefing and review the visual information in the safety booklet, even if you’re a frequent flier. You’ll need to know the safety procedure of the specific aircraft in case of emergency.
- Count the rows to the emergency exit. In an emergency, lighting may be reduced.
- It might be tempting, especially on a long flight to toss back a couple adult beverages, but keep your tolerance in mind. Aircraft cabins are pressurized so the effect of alcohol is greater than normal.
- Listen to the flight attendants. They might bring you an extra pillow, but they are primarily there for your safety and security.
- Pay attention to the light-up overhead cues and keep your seatbelt fastened. Turbulence can occur at anytime.
- Keep your personal belongings on your body or in your direct line of sight at all times.
- If you’re going to a particularly sketchy location, or have to pass through an unsavory neighborhood, you can place a small lock through the zippers of your backpack to deter theft. (Don’t fly with locked luggage, the lock will be removed.)
- Remain aware of your surroundings. Large crowds, noisy environment and other distractions may be opportunities for pickpockets.
- Know your stop in the local language, or know the local name of a specific landmark so you can ask for directions if needed.
- Have your hotel, hostel or restaurant call you a taxi rather than flagging one down yourself. Local establishments will know the best companies to use.
- Use taxies from a taxi stand where possible. Typically only registered operators may use a taxi stand.
- Keep your belongings at your side or feet. If you need to exit quickly they will be easily accessible.If in an emergency situation, leave the bags. You can run faster without it and items can be replaced.
- Check the identification of the driver before getting in. It should be prominently displayed in the vehicle if it is a legitimate taxi.
- Know exactly where you need to stop in the local language, or know the local name of a specific landmark.
- Become familiar with landmarks so you can tell if the driver is taking you in circles, or “the long way” to your destination. Tell your driver you’d like to go the fastest way possible, or that you’re in a hurry.
- Always listen to the safety briefing. You will need to know what to do in an emergency. Be aware of the locations for rescue boats if available.
- If lifejackets are supplied, use them.
- Always have at least one hand free to hold onto something to help with your balance, sit whenever possible.
- Ensure you have adequate sun protection as the sun can reflect off the water.
- Take medication for seasickness prior to boarding, and have some handy if it’s a longer voyage. Remember that it may take some time to become effective.
Accommodation Safety Tips
Hotels are in general a place of safety and solace, but don’t be lured into a false sense of security or lose your wits. Be smart about the accommodations you choose and where you store your belongings and you’ll be golden.
- Try and avoid choosing hotels or hostels in high-crime or dangerous areas
- Keep your belongings in your line of sight and nearby when arriving or checking out.
- When you get to your room, make sure the door closes behind you and that the lock functions properly.
- Double check and make sure all entries to your room (including windows) are locked both when you leave and when you occupy the space.
- Always use the 'spy hole' to see who is at the door before opening it.
- Know the emergency assistance number, and familiarize yourself with the phone, just in case.
- Store all valuables and travel documents in the inroom safe if available, even while you’re in the room.
- Become familiar with the layout and emergency exit plan for the building.
- Grab a business card with the name, phone number and address of the hotel so you can easily get assistance returning if you become lost, or if a cab driver doesn’t know it by name.
Out on the Town Safety Tips
For the most part, the destinations we choose are safe places to travel, with violent crime being extremely rare. Pickpocketing is by far the most common and problematic of crimes, with most incidents taking place in crowded areas, tourist attractions, the subway and large department stores. The majority of these incidents can be easily avoided by keeping alert and aware of your surroundings, traveling with partner and avoiding congested areas in the evening and after dark. The US Department of State has a complete list of travel cautions and warning for each city. Make note of the following tips before heading out to see the sights!
- Blend in! Take note of what the locals are wearing and try to avoid looking like a tourist.
- Be careful where you pull out paper maps. Paper maps identify you as a tourist, or make others think you have no idea where you are, so you become easy prey. Smartphones eliminate this as an issue, if you have one and are able to use it, do.
- If you get lost, avoiding asking directions from people on the street. Instead duck inside a store or restaurant and ask an employee.
- Keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. Danger can lurk in dark and deserted alleyways, but theft and pickpocketing can occur in over-populated areas.
- When withdrawing money from an ATM, choose ones in well-used areas and avoid using them after dark.Protect your personal PIN number by covering the keypad with your free hand. Count your money very discreetly, and store it out of sight immediately after withdrawing.
- Leave excess cash, a backup credit card, travel documents, and valuables in the hotel safe. Try not to travel with anything you can’t live without.
- Use a purse with a cross-body strap and zippered pockets to keep out wandering hands. If you’re using a backpack, get one with a chest clip and keep it snapped. Backpacks are extremely easy to rifle through with the wearer none the wiser. Get a set of small padlocks to lock the zippers together to avoid theft.
- Use the buddy system when possible.
High Altitude and Other Safety Concerns
Some of the experience we include on our adventures include high altitude or other potentially hazardous conditions. High Altitude Sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness) can be experienced by folks used to sea-level at any elevation higher than about 1500 meters, or 5000 feet above sea level. At extreme elevations or with sensitive people, AMS can progress to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), both of which can be fatal if not taken care of immediately and with the correct method. It is very important that all travellers are aware of, and able to recognize, signs and symptoms of altitude on their body.
Before traveling, always consult your doctor. If you’re planning on attending one of our adventures that will take you to higher elevations, we recommend testing your sensitivity to elevation closer to home. Bring a friend, make them aware of your goals, and go for a hike to a similar elevation to the max achieved on the adventure and note how you feel. Drink plenty of water.
- Our Bali Adventure summits Mount Batur at 5,633' (1,717 m)
- Our Kilimanjaro Adventure summits Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,341' (5,895 m)
- Our Peru Adventure along the Lares Trek reaches 15,092ft (4,600m)
Signs and Symptoms of High Altitude Sickness
Common symptoms of mild high altitude sickness include:
- Nausea/reluctance to consume food
- Stomach illness
- Sleep disturbance
- Shortness of breath
If any of these symptoms are experienced by yourself or another traveler, let your guide know immediately. In most cases, dehydration coupled with the change in elevation is the cause, and drinking water along with returning to a comfortable elevation is the cure.
More serious symptoms include*
- Dry cough
- Light sensitivity
- Bluish color on lips and fingers
- Loss of general coordination or spacial awareness
- Gait abnormality
- Difficulty breathing even when resting
- Lack of balance
- Loss of consciousness.
- Chest tightness or congestion
- Rapid shallow breathing
* If you or anyone you’re traveling with begins to experience two or more of these symptoms, contact emergency services immediately!
When travelling in high altitude
- Give yourself at least one day to rest and acclimatize. Avoid any strenuous physical activity for the first 24 hours.
- If instructed by your physician, take altitude medication
- Drink plenty of water a little at a time, and often.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Do not rely on coca tea or chewing coca leaves. Although a common Andean remedy, no medical studies have proven this as a means to prevent altitude sickness.
- Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and substances that can interfere with good delivery of oxygen to the body or cause dehydration. ○ Eating small, frequent meals high in carbohydrates.
- Take it easy or have a regular break. Walk at a slower pace than normal.
Golden Rules of High Altitude Travel
- If you feel unwell in high altitude, it is due to altitude sickness until proven otherwise
- If you have symptoms of AMS, do not proceed to higher altitudes
- If your symptoms worsen, you need to get to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
While ascending to extreme elevation, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, your guide may follow a two steps up, one step back procedure to better acclimate hikers to the change in altitude. Typically, on day one you’ll begin at point A, ascend to point B, and then sleep at an elevation in between the two. The next day, you’ll ascend to point C, and sleep at point B, etc.
Nearly all of our adventures include water activity in one form or another. Some examples that we currently feature on our retreats are boating trips, a surf lessons, SUP yoga, snorkeling, waterfall exploration, etc. Please be aware of your current swimming ability and comfort in the water when choosing your adventure, or choosing to attend a specific excursion. All of the excursions included in our adventures are optional, and you’ll never be forced to participate in an activity you’re uncomfortable with.
Tips for water safety
- Wear a life vest if provided
- Make sure to have adequate sun-protection
- Swim in designated areas only
- Use the buddy system, never swim alone, especially in the ocean.
- Do not participate in breath-holding contests. Hyperventilation before submerging can cause spontaneous loss of consciousness.
- Avoid alcohol and medication that alter your senses when swimming or boating
- Check the weather forecast and be aware of possible sudden changes
- Stay hydrated and fueled
At Yoga Travel Tree our goal is to provide you with life-changing adventures, and we strive to maintain safety in all of our excursions. If you have any questions about our safety policies or if this page fails to mention anything important, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org!