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Travel Safety Survey uncovers top travel mistakes

White Sneakers? You’re a Tourist!

Smart travellers know their limits, research their destinations, choose an expert guide and adjust their plans as necessary. But even smart travellers misstep once in a while. 


About 2,400 survey respondents shared their top traveller mistakes in Global Rescue’s 2020 Travel Safety Survey.


Here are the slip-ups that can most likely side-track a trip and advice from Global Rescue experts on how to avoid them. 


White sneakers? You're a tourist!


1. Over packing 

The majority of travellers (75% of respondents) admit to over packing for a trip. The percentage decreases with age: 100% of travellers 25 and younger over packed while only 84% of travellers ages 30 to 39 stuffed their suitcase.  

Matt Napiltonia, a Global Rescue senior operations manager, shares his packing secret: “Pack light and buy what you need there.”  


2. Ambitious Itinerary 

About 40% of Global Rescue members create an overly ambitious itinerary.  “You want to do and see everything on that trip to Spain, for example, but when you get home decide that you wish you had more time to explore nature or relax on the beach,” Napiltonia said. 


3. Forgot Medical or Security Travel Services 

You spent all this money on a holiday, but what measures did you take to protect your health or security? “Travellers just don’t think a medical emergency is going to happen to them,” says Napiltonia. 

This mindset appeared in 38% of respondents. 


4. Tip or Not to Tip? 

Tipping in Japan is considered rude, there’s no need to tip at restaurants in Denmark and you should tip using the British pound in England. It’s no wonder survey respondents (35%) are worried about tipping appropriately while travelling.  


5. International Plug Adapter 

If you plan on charging camera batteries, your smartphone, or using a hairdryer, you’re going to want to remember your international plug adapter. Almost a third of respondents (31%) left their adapter behind. 


6. Drinking Unsafe Water 

In the rush to stay hydrated while on the go, 29% of respondents drank unsafe water while travelling. 

“It’s a mistake that’s easy to make,” says Napiltonia. “Even I’m not as cautious as I should be when I’m eating.” 

Younger travellers are more apt to make this mistake, with 41% between the ages of 25 and 39 and 34% between the ages of 40 to 49 admitting to drinking unsafe water.  


7. International faux pas 

Not being aware of cultural differences and similarities in the country you’re visiting could ruin a trip, and 18% of survey respondents worry about being culturally insensitive. 


8. Making Copies 

The survey found 17% of respondents neglected to make a passport copy before they traveled.

“Consider keeping electronic copies of vital documents like your driver’s license, too,” said Harding Bush, Global Rescue associate manager of operations. “The more identifying information you have on hand, the easier the replacement process will be if something happens.” 


9. Forgot Meds 

Prescription medication is one of the last few things packed, but one of the most important. The survey found 9% of travellers have forgotten to pack prescription medicines before a trip.  


Additional Mistakes 

What mistakes were missing from the travel survey? Here’s a few from our Global Rescue operations experts. 

  • White Tennis Shoes. If you want to look like a tourist, wear white, lace-up tennis shoes or sneakers with Velcro on them. 
  • Passport Holders. Wearing a passport holder with a cord around your neck makes you easily identifiable as a tourist. If you do have one, wear it under your top layer.  
  • Credit Cards Only. It seems like a good idea to use only plastic while travelling — but what if you forgot to notify the bank of your whereabouts and you’re without funds on a weekend when banks could be closed? “It’s smart to have a handful of cash on the ground,” Napiltonia said. “Some places only accept cash and $200 to $300 is enough to pay for a room and food and make it until the banks open on Monday.” 


The 2020 Annual Global Rescue Travel Safety Survey was conducted 22-28 January 2020. The study results are based on a survey of 2,400 Global Rescue members. 


What do you think of these mistakes? How many are you guilty of making?


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Written by: Bill McIntyre
Published: 8 March 2020

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