Many travel sites have a similar list to share with their readers, but for us, the key to a list like this is the term ‘deadly’, as in doing this could cause you, and or your loved ones, serious bodily or physical harm.
It’s not a deadly sin if you forget to take your pen knife out of your pocket or mis-match your clothing or talk your seat-mate’s ear off.
Sure, it’s annoying to others, but it’s not likely to cause a death or even serious physical harm (unless perhaps you’re seated next to a violent criminal with the means and intent to do physical harm).
1. Failing to do adequate pre-trip research
Preparing for a trip, means doing a little research on what risks you’ll be facing at the time you’re visiting. If you’re traveling during hurricane season, are you traveling to an area that’s hurricane-prone? If not, is there the potential for significant delays or missed connections that could cause problems for you? Are you traveling to a region where the water is unsafe to drink (and you should know how you’re going to get safe drinking water), or there is a big risk of malaria (and you should have the proper medications and preparations), or you need a pre-arranged visa (and you should have one in hand before you go) for example?
The following are excellent places to start your pre-trip research:
- Check the U.S. State Department Travel Alerts and Warnings
- Check the CDC Traveler’s Health Map
- Know what to do if you get Sick or Injured while traveling
Depending on where you’re going and your style of travel, of course, there are other risks and you should know what they are – such as what vaccinations you need before you go.
2. Flashing your wealth
Even back home, you wouldn’t walk around holding all your personal cash loosely in your hand while walking through some neighborhoods. It’s no different when you’re traveling except that a traveler is in a new and unfamiliar environment. A traveler may not know if they’re in a questionable neighborhood or understand the particular methods employed by local scam artists, thieves and pick-pockets.
Beyond leaving your expensive jewelry, electronics, bags, and more at home – which you know you should do as well – we know that you sometimes have to carry something valuable along with you.
See these topics for ways to avoid flashing your wealth and keeping it safe:
- Clever Ways to Keep your Travel Cash Safe
- Learn to Love Moneybelts
- Keep Your Valuables Safe when Traveling with these Techniques
3. Drinking too much
It’s easily done – especially when you’re enjoying the view, the friends, the new tastes – but drinking too much on a trip means you’ve put yourself in a precarious position. Not only with having your blood alcohol level above the local legal limit invalidate your travel medical insurance if you do have to visit the emergency room, it’s highly illegal in some countries who will jail a traveler for having even a drop of alcohol in their system and driving.
Drinking too much also puts a traveler in a position of risk for being easily mugged, robbed, or kidnapped simply because he or she is not well aware of their surroundings and not in a position to best protect themselves.
4. Forgetting to prepare for medical emergencies
A medical emergency – a fall, a cut, a fever in the middle of the night – is far easier if you’ve prepared for it but it’s important to recognize that some medical emergencies can even cause a traveler’s death.
Not being able to find local medical care in a hurry could cost someone their life if they are having a heart attack or slipping into a diabetic coma, for example. Having your medical history – especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition – to speak for you if you are unconscious is also critical pre-travel planning.
See these topics to better prepare for a travel medical emergency:
5. Failing to respect local culture
You might not think that a cultural faux pas or two would be a problem, but in some countries, a cross-cultural mistake can land them in jail or provoke a physical attack.
It might be accepted back home, but in some countries travelers risk provoking serious violence and abuse if they wear clothing or behave in a way that is offensive to the local population.
See the Reasons to Learn Foreign Etiquette for more information, including the best ways to learn about foreign customs and avoid a problem. Also see our Tips for Traveling in Dangerous Countries for information about how to stay safe even in a country that’s considered risky.
6. Being unprepared in a disaster
Natural disasters and human-caused disasters happen all the time, and not being prepared to react appropriately in a disaster could mean you don’t come out of it alive.
See these tips for better disaster preparation on your next trip:
- Safely Navigate a Flook when You Travel
- How to Survive when the Cruise Ship is Sinking
- The Real Danger of Flying? DVT, also known as Economy Class Syndrome
7. Forgetting to purchase travel insurance
You may not think of travel insurance as a way to save a life, but when you think about travel insurance plans with the following coverage you may change your mind:
- Travel medical insurance – pays for medical transportation and treatment expenses if a traveler is injured or becomes ill during a trip. Most travel experts consider this a must-have on any trip abroad. Without it, you could be refused treatment and even die.
- Medical evacuation coverage – pays for medically necessary evacuations to transport an injured or severely ill traveler to a medical facility equipped to care for them. Without it, you might not reach a medical facility in time.
- Pre-existing medical condition coverage – provides the necessary money for medical treatment due to a recurring or existing medical condition. Without it, you could be refused treatment or fail to reach treatment in time to save your life.
For a real-life story, see How Travel Insurance Saved this 72-year-old with Alzheimer’s Disease.
And for a few real-life examples of where travel insurance could have helped travelers if they’d purchased travel insurance, see these recent travel disaster stories – all are from 2012: