I absolutely LOVE travel chats! I have to admit, though, that I am more of a listening participant. I do share some tips and tricks, particularly on traveling with kids, but there is so much travel wisdom you can learn from the extraordinaires that I just tend to read the tweets and take notes.
Last Thursday's #CultureTrav topic was Personal Safety, in which fellow enthusiasts and experts shared some stories and perspectives on the precautionary measures they take prior to and/or during their vacations. As always, the questions were appropriate for travelers, in general. But as a parent, I found myself most engaged with those who talked about children's safety; in turn, I shared answers, which were with utmost consideration for mine.
Reviews on reliable travel reviews sites
Confession: I have to say, I don't spend a lot of time on TripAdvisor and other reviews sites. While I do [skim] read some of the users' reviews, I find that they're not as comprehensive as I hope they would be, and the negative ones are mostly written out of rage. However, I was quite surprised to see a lot of savvy travelers have this as their number one advice. So maybe I'm missing out on some valuable information, and I should give these sites a double take.
Nothing beats stories on firsthand experiences. This is my favorite part of destination research, actually, because travel bloggers and journalists are eager to share as much as they know about a place - from attractions to events to local culture to insider tips. I enjoy reading these accounts because I actually learn so much from them.
Travel advisory updates
I know there is a huge group of people that don't keep up with these sort of updates, but I can't emphasize enough how important and helpful they are. I'm, in no way, scaremongering, but in this day and age where [threats of] conflicts arise every so often, it would be best to be in-the-know if/when it is safe to visit the country you are traveling to.
Not only do travel advisory updates send warning of political unrest, but also share alerts on hurricane and typhoon seasons.
Hospitals and police stations
A week or so before I was due to give birth to my daughter, I took a day trip to San Francisco with my family. Walking around a bustling big city during the holiday season can be strenuous, so I made sure I knew where the nearest hospitals were. I made it home without any problems (...but did go into labor later that night).
Anyway, I couldn't agree more with @JHochstat:
No matter how well-researched and prepared you are, it could literally save a life to have those hospitals and police contact information handy, especially when your travel companions are mostly children, a person with disabilities and seniors. You just never know when you'll need them.
Embassies and consulates
Lost passport or residency card? Unpleasant encounter with the domestic law enforcers? Emergency extraction? I can give you a number of reasons why you should know where your country of residence's embassy or consulate is stationed.
One of the safety measures I shared, which resulted to some hearty Twitter exchanges with other moms is taking caution when sharing current locations on social media. The geotag feature is pretty cool, but is also the creepy stalker's best friend. I personally refrain from posting on my Instagram in real time because I don't want strangers to know where I am (or where my children are) at exactly when.
#CultureTrav is a weekly travel chat for travelers hosted by @Nicolette_O and @JLipowski. This week's travel chat is called, "Media." You can find the questions here.