Travelling is an incredibly popular hobby. There are few things in life that are more exciting and rewarding than taking time out to see the world and spend quality time with the people you love. The trouble is that not all trips pan out as planned. Whether you’re embarking on a road trip, you’re off to sail the seas or you’re jetting off to far-flung lands, it’s wise to be aware of the potential dangers. Here is a guide to help you avoid injuries on your travels and ensure you have a memorable break for all the right reasons.
Road trip safety tips
Road trips are a fantastic way to explore without spending a fortune. There are several countries that lend themselves to road trips, including Canada, the UK, the US, New Zealand, and Iceland. If you’re travelling by car, or you plan to hire an RV or a campervan, it’s worth bearing these tips in mind.
Preparing your vehicle
Nobody wants to spend weeks counting down the days until their vacation begins to find themselves stuck on the hard shoulder with the hood up waiting for assistance. It’s not always possible to avoid mechanical problems or unexpected hitches, like a puncture or a blowout, but it’s beneficial to try and minimize the risk by preparing your vehicle before you set off. If you’re hiring a car or an RV, it should be in excellent condition when you pick it up, but it’s a good idea to have a look at the tires and ask about the oil level before you leave. If you’re taking your own car or camper, check your tire pressure, top up your oil and water, and make sure you’ve got a warning triangle and high-visibility clothing in the trunk. If your car has been making unusual noises or you haven’t had it serviced in a while, it’s best to book it into the garage before you take a trip.
Checking your route
Spontaneity is great when you’re on vacation, but you don’t want to take any risks when it comes to navigating your way to your destination. Plan your route in advance, work out where you can stop to top up the gas and stretch your legs, and make sure you have a map with you, just in case you lose signal on your phone or your sat nav. If you’ve got a long journey ahead, mark off points where you can rest and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink.
The last thing you want when you’ve been looking forward to a road trip with family or friends is to be involved in a crash. Sadly, road accidents are common. In Canada, more than 115,000 people were injured on the roads in 2016, and in the US, there are around 30,000 fatal crashes every year. Some accidents are inevitable, but the vast majority are caused by careless or dangerous driving. If you’re out on the roads, stay focused and pay attention to speed restrictions. Take extra care when the roads are busy, or there are lots of trucks on the road. When you get out of the city, you tend to find that trucks and trailers are more commonplace. Keep your distance, reduce your speed on narrow lanes, and drive to the conditions. If it starts to rain, you’ll need to adjust your stopping distance. If you get hit by a truck, and you weren’t at fault, for example, the driver was speeding, contact a commercial truck accident attorney. Driving tired is a common cause of both car and truck accidents. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake, or you feel drowsy, don’t take risks. Pull over in a safe place, get some fresh air, have a coffee, and take a nap if you need to. You may not get to your destination as quickly, but it’s better to make sure you arrive in one piece.
If you’re driving abroad, make sure you understand the rules and restrictions, as laws vary. Go steady if you’ve just picked your hire car up. It may take you a while to get used to the roads, especially if you’re driving on the other side.
If you’re flying to a different city or country, there are lots of steps you can take to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries both before and during your flight. Start by ensuring you have plenty of time to get to the airport, go through security, and walk to the gate. If you’re rushing around, this is going to stress you out, but it will also increase the risk of accidents like slips and trips. Book a cab or airport parking in advance, and give yourself time to grab a drink, relax and get ready for your flight.
When you’re making your way to the airplane, make sure you stick to designated routes on the tarmac, and when you get onto the plane, take care when placing luggage in the overhead lockers. Get comfortable in your seat, fasten your belt, and pay attention to the safety demonstrations. It’s very rare to encounter any issues on a plane, but it’s useful to know what to do just in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to adopt the brace position or use a lifejacket.
Once you’re up in the air, stretch your legs out, and try and move them on a regular basis. This will help to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Take a walk up the aisle every couple of hours and straighten and flex your toes while you’re in your seat. If you’re prone to stiffness, or you’re worried about DVT, you may wish to wear flight socks if you’re taking a long-haul flight. If you plan to try and sleep while you’re up in the air, it’s a good idea to pack headphones or earplugs, as other passengers may not have the same idea.
Coping with jet lag
One of the most common side-effects of air travel is jet lag. If you’re changing time zones, you may find that you struggle to stay awake during the day when you reach your destination. Jet lag can make life tough and take the shine off even the most exciting of adventures, so try and prepare in advance by adjusting your sleep routine. If you can try and modify your sleeping patterns to match the new time zone, this should make the transition easier. When you land, try and stay awake until bedtime in your new time zone. If you can’t manage, take a short nap, and make sure you set an alarm.
Staying safe at sea
If you’re off on a sailing holiday, you’ve booked a cruise, or you plan to take a boat trip during your vacation, it’s wise to take safety precautions into consideration.
Rules and regulations
If you’re staying on a cruise ship, or you’re planning to book a boat trip of any kind during your holiday, it’s vital to pay attention to safety briefings, and to ensure you understand the rules and regulations in place. Listen out for warnings or advisory notices, make sure you know where to find life jackets and take great care when walking around the deck or looking out over balconies to enjoy the view. Don’t attempt to climb on fencing, and stick to areas that are designed for public use. Don’t jump into the water unless you’re informed that it’s safe to do so. Slips and trips are very common when you’re surrounded by water, so be careful when walking on the deck, and ensure you have suitable footwear that offers grip.
Planning your own trip
If you plan to take a boat out while on vacation, ensure you use a reputable supplier, read reviews and testimonials before you book, and check the weather forecast. If there are warnings in place, it’s not worth taking any risks. Make sure you know your way around the controls and plan how you’re going to get to your chosen destination. If you like the idea of a boat trip, but you have limited experience when it comes to sailing or driving a speedboat, it may be best to join an organized tour, or to charter a boat with a crew.
General travel tips
Before you embark on any kind of journey, it’s wise to check that you’ve packed everything you need, for example, medication, and to check you have valid travel insurance. Plan in advance to save last-minute stress, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport or complete your drive, and try and relax. Fraud is a common problem for travellers, so be wary of potential risks, such as unsecured wifi networks. Protect phones and tablets with passcodes, and try and avoid posting details of your exact location on social media unless you have a private account. It’s a good idea to scan or photocopy your ID and travel insurance documents before you go and to leave details of your itinerary with your relatives. It’s also wise to ensure that you know the emergency number to use if you need help in a different country.
Are you preparing to take a break? If so, you’re probably hoping for a smooth ride and a hassle-free trip. Hopefully, this guide will come in handy, and you’ll have a fantastic time!