Travel can be exhilarating but also scary at times. When you're venturing into the great unknown, follow these safety tips to protect yourself and ensure a happy and secure journey:
1. Leave an itinerary and emergency contact - even if it's just as basic as which city you'll be visiting and when you'll return, with a trusted friend or family member back home and try to check in with him or her every day. That way, if something happens, they can alert authorities on your behalf.
2. Before you leave, scan a copy of your passport and e-mail it to yourself and take a photo of it to save on your cell phone. That way, if you need your passport while out (but it's locked up in your hotel safe), you'll have access to all your details. Plus, if it's stolen, getting a replacement will be that much easier.
3. Don't flash your cash or valuables - keep your cash separated, with some spending money easily accessible and the rest hidden, so that you're not showing off a big wad of cash every time you pay. Although it's tempting to have your smartphone out constantly to look up directions or take photos, be mindful of your surroundings -- thieves love to grab cell phones from people using them on trains and run off at the next stop.
4. Save emergency numbers - remember, you can't call 911 everywhere. Find out what the local emergency hotlines are and save them to your phone (preferably on speed dial). Also research the nearest U.S. embassies or consulates and save those addresses and phone numbers as well.