Travel opens up a world of excitement, wonder, and opportunity. With that, there are inherent risks and rewards beyond which you could reasonably expect by staying at home. Some of the reasons you may be exposed to different and broader experiences and risks include:
Different countries have different laws and regulations governing transport, infrastructure, safety, etc., and may be lacking when compared to laws you may have at home.
The itineraries we operate oftentimes include strenuous activities and physical demands beyond which you may usually partake in at home. In addition, these activities are on occasion undertaken in remote and isolated areas.
The political stability of some of the countries in which we operate can be at
Natural events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, flooding, etc. can happen the world over. Sometimes they strike in locations in which we operate a tour. The remote location of some of our tours may compound the impacts beyond the natural event itself.
Most of the people you meet on your travels will be genuine, welcoming, and honest. However, anywhere, there is a small element preying on the unsuspecting tourist.
The remote locations of some of our tours mean support and assistance are not always readily available.
The infrastructure (hospitals, transport, emergency services, etc.) of some of the
countries we visit may be lacking when compared to the ones you may have at home.
Savanna Trails takes all reasonable measures to ensure your safety and enjoyment while traveling with us. This document aims to give you an insight into ways you may further enhance your safety while abroad.
“The door to safety swings on the hinges of common sense.”
First things first
There are several things to do before even leaving home that will help you to have a safe and enjoyable travel
- Take copies of your passport and other important documents with you. This way, if you lose your documents, you can at least present a copy to your embassy or consulate while abroad and have a replacement or temporary travel documents issued. A tip we received from one of our seasoned travelers was to scan the documents and send them to your email. That way you have additional access to them online.
- We suggest registering 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.
- Take out appropriate insurance. No one ever expects an injury or accident to happen. However, we have heard several unfortunate stories from travelers and they usually start with: “I never expected…”
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with friends or family.
Our adventures travel to some exciting and far-off places. With that, comes exposure to new and unfamiliar bugs, viruses, and infections. Consult your local medical professional well before leaving home. You may need injections to prevent common diseases, and they may need some time to incubate before they are effective. Your medical professional or travel clinic will advise on what is needed.
We also ask you to complete our online medical questionnaire. This will help us to give you the assistance you need while with us, and allow us to give special attention to those who need it.
The travel experience will expose you to many different types and forms of transport, and many risks and rewards. Some of these may be familiar to you and just a matter of commonsense, and some may not. Take note of the top 5 tips below, received from Savanna Trails` travelers:
Pay attention to the inflight briefing. It may seem monotonous or boring to those who travel often, but in the event of an emergency, you will need to know it instantly.
Count the rows to the emergency exit. In an emergency, lighting may be reduced.
Don’t drink too much alcohol. Cabins are pressurized so the effect of alcohol is greater than normal.
Listen to the flight attendants. They are primarily there for your safety.
Keep your seatbelt fastened. Turbulence can occur at any time.
Buses and trains
Keep your personal belongings in your sight, or preferably on you.
A lock placed on zippers is a good deterrent to a would-be thief.
Watch for uneven, slippery surfaces or other obstacles as you enter and exit the vehicle.
Remain alert to your surroundings. Be aware of distractions, as they may be opportunities for pickpockets.
Know your stop.
If you are staying at a hotel, have them call you a taxi, rather than wave one down on the street.
Use taxis 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, ditch the bags. You can run faster without it and items can be
Check the identification of the driver before getting in. It should be prominently displayed in the vehicle if it is a legitimate taxi.
Listen to the safety briefing. You will need to know what to do in an emergency.
If lifejackets are supplied – use them.
Always have at least one hand free to hold onto something to help with your balance.
The sun reflects up off the water. Ensure you have adequate sunscreen protection.
Take medication for seasickness before boarding – it may take some time to become
Accommodation is generally considered a haven for weary travelers. However, the reality is it is often the most likely place that accidents and thefts occur. The following things can be done to increase your safety as told to us by fellow travelers:
- When arriving, stay with your bags until they are transferred from the taxi or bus to the lobby.
- Lobbies can be chaotic places with many people coming and going. Keep an eye on your bags at all times when checking in and out. The busy atmosphere is a welcome distraction to opportunists.
- When you enter your hotel room, make sure the door closes firmly behind you and it locks.
- When in your room lock the door, use the security latch, lock windows, and connect connectors.
- Always use the ‘spy hole’ to see who is at the door before opening it.
- Know the emergency assistance number, and how to operate the phone system.
- Store all unneeded personal items, cash, valuables, and travel documents in the in room safe.
- Take note of the emergency plan on the back of the hotel door. You will need to know it in an emergency.
- Place your room key in the same place each time. It avoids losing it, and you will know where it is in an emergency.
- Use the nonslip mats in the showers if provided.
Out and About
One of the great ways to experience a new destination is to simply immerse yourself in it! However, as with anywhere, there are select elements of the local community who prey on the vulnerable. We have received many tips and advice from our travelers on the best way to do reduce vulnerability, and protect safety while enjoying the amazing sights. Some of these ideas may be simple commonsense, while others you may not have thought about.
These are the top 10 ways to enhance your safety while out and about:
- Blend in as much as possible, especially in your dress and appearance. Try to avoid an obvious tourist appearance.
- View maps discreetly. A map identifies you as a tourist, and unfortunately, a target.
- If disorientated, only ask for directions from uniformed officers or persons of obvious authority.
- Stay on well-lit or well-trafficked areas and roads. Danger often lurks in dark and less populated areas.
- Photos are a must when traveling. However, keep the camera discreet. Many ‘point-and-shoot’ cameras will fit in your pocket out of sight when not in use. Do not leave larger ones dangling around your neck, or other places in plain view.
- When withdrawing money from bank machines, try to do so during daylight, in well-trafficked areas, and use machines that are associated with a recognized bank where possible. As with anywhere, protect your PIN by covering the keypad from prying eyes with your other hand. Once the cash is withdrawn, take time to ensure it is stashed away safely. Do not do so while walking down the street advertising the fact you are carrying amounts of cash with you.
- Leave excess cash, travel documents, jewelry in the hotel safe, or better yet at home if you don’t need it while away.
- An experienced pickpocket can usually pick a tourist out in a crowd. Wear your purse across your body with the opening flap against your stomach so that it’s more difficult to get into. If you’re carrying a daypack wear it in front, kangaroo kangaroo-style possible avoid walking alone – especially at night. Traveling with friends makes you much less of a target.
- Take the hotel card containing the hotel name and address with you. This way, even if you do not speak the language, a taxi will be able to take you back to the hotel.
On your Savanna Trails trip, you will have many included activities. All of the included activities are properly vetted and regularly checked by us. However, there will also be some free time for you to set off on your own. We ask you to use your discretion when considering optional activities directly with suppliers. Safety should always be your key consideration, as it is ours. Ask about their safety practices, history, insurance, and emergency plans. Particular attention should be paid when water activities are involved, and always insist on traveling with a guide.
Some of our tours take place at a high altitude. Effects of altitude on the human body begin to appear at 1500 meters above sea level. Travelers at this altitude (and higher) may experience symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) also known as altitude sickness. In more serious cases AMS can progress to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Both HAPE and HACE are potentially fatal. All travelers must be aware of, and able to recognize, signs and symptoms of
altitude on their body.
Savanna Trails recommends that everyone, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, seek the advice of their doctor regarding traveling in high altitude to provide a detailed copy of your travel itinerary to your physician so
they may better assist you.
Possible symptoms of altitude sickness
Common mild symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, stomach illness, dizziness, sleep disturbance, and shortness of breath.
More serious symptoms include fever, dry cough, vomiting, bluish color on lips and fingers, difficulty breathing even when resting, lack of balance, and loss of consciousness.
Recommendations when traveling in high altitude
- Give yourself at least one day to rest and acclimatize. Avoid any strenuous physical activity.
- Take altitude medication as instructed by your physician.
- Use anti Inflammatory to treat mild symptoms ·
- Drink plenty of water. Drink a little, often.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Stick to a plain diet – chicken soup, bread, and light meals
- 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.
Golden Rules of traveling in high altitude
- If you feel unwell at a 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.