How to stay safe in your host country

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Published 2 months ago

It takes a lot of courage to move abroad, whether for personal or professional reasons. While moving overseas is an adventure in itself, safety is an essential factor to take into account, How safe are you in your host country? How would you react in case of any danger? Here are some tips on how to stay safe abroad.

Pay attention to local customs and regulations

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Learning about local laws and regulations, as well as cultural traditions and customs, is, without a doubt, the first thing to do if you're planning to move abroad. Aside from helping to quench your curiosity, learning about it all will make you more respectful towards the local culture, which will consequently help you adapt more easily to your host country, and to feel safe. For example, in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in public. Hugging and kissing in public places is also prohibited. Knowing and understanding these things will prevent people from coming up to you to reprimand you or from local authorities to take sanctions.

Also, remember to inquire about the dress code in your host country, especially in public areas and places of worship. If you're moving to Asia, you will probably be visiting many ancient temples and other cultural sites. While visiting Hindu or Buddhist temples, or mosques, make sure to wear appropriate clothes covering your arms and legs. You might recall the controversy around a young female model who had posed naked at Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, a couple of years ago. Since then, wearing an appropriate outfit is mandatory for visitors.

To stay away from trouble, avoid taking part in riots, political activities, and other public demonstrations in your host country. You're also advised to avoid sensitive topics such as political and religious views during your interactions with locals, although that of course depends on the country. Keep in mind that you cannot generally behave the way you would in your home country.

Get international insurance

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Expatriates are advised to subscribe to an international insurance before moving. In fact, you may not be eligible for the local healthcare system in your host country. In some cases, healthcare can cost a lot more than what you had expected. Furthermore, in some countries, there are additional risks such as terrorist threats, conflict, and war, and it is always better to ensure international coverage. Some insurance companies even provide plans that would cover you in case of kidnapping. Depending on the country you are moving to, make sure to inquire beforehand with your insurance provider. If your employer offers insurance as part of your expat package, make sure to check all the conditions before signing the document. You can also request for more information on the type of coverage offered.

Use public transport

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When moving abroad, you might not like the idea of getting around by public transportation. In fact, many expatriates prefer to rent or buy a car, provided they have a recognised driver's licence. Also, driving in a foreign country can sometimes be a real challenge, especially if you're not well versed with the local traffic rules. You're therefore advised to learn about driving in your host country (whether you will drive on the left or the right), on traffic regulations, on penalties applied in case of non-compliance, and finally driving etiquette. Make sure you know the procedures in case of an accident.

If you're not ready to drive in your host country, the local transportation system, including buses, subway, or tramway, is probably the best option. However, make you are aware of their schedules, especially at night. Beware of illegal taxis! In many countries like Vietnam, Mexico, and in some parts of Africa, thefts, assaults, and kidnappings have been reported in taxis as well as rail transportation. When hiring a taxi, make sure it is a registered one, especially if the driver is offering an attractive rate that's too good to be true. It could be a trap.

Stay informed

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There are different types and levels of risks, including natural disasters and terrorist attacks, in different countries. For example, over the past few years, there have been unexpected deadly attacks in many European cities. Make sure you are aware whether your host country is a safe place to live in and how to react in case of emergencies. Pay attention to your surroundings, whether in public areas or on the subway, but without being paranoid.

Regarding natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, seek all information on the level of risks and alerts, on preventive measures, and on arrangements made by local authorities to ensure the population's safety. As far as possible, keep yourself updated by following the news on the TV, on the radio, or social media. If you have any doubt or difficulty, do not hesitate to contact your home country's embassy or consulate.

Keep away from unsafe areas

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Discovering your new city and its different neighbourhoods is an essential part of the adaptation process. As in any country, some neighbourhoods are less safe than others, especially at night. Remember to inquire about the safety and crime rate in your host country. Also, avoid wandering out alone in dark and quiet streets. As far as possible, stay close to crowded streets and busy bars, coffees shops, or restaurants.

If you're an adventurous and nature-loving expat, you will probably seize every single opportunity to wander a little further, whether for hiking, trekking, or thrilling sports. After all, your host country probably has a lot to offer to expats. However, going on an adventure with some friends or accompanied by a professional guide or experienced locals can save you from finding yourself in trouble.

Avoid drawing attention

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On your arrival in your host country, you will naturally start by visiting popular tourist spots. You wouldn't want to miss a single opportunity for beautiful photographic memories and will probably bring your camera, smartphone, or even tablet. However, adopting a tourist-like behaving can draw malicious attention. In this regard, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying valuables and a lot of money. Keeping your money in different places, like in your backpack, pocket, and wallet, can save you in case your wallet gets stolen. Remember that there are risks of scam everywhere, so do not think you're completely safe even if you have researched all the relevant information.

We hope these few tips have been helpful. If you have any more, feel free to share them by writing a comment below.