If you’ve got a vacation or backpacking adventure in a tropical, mountainous country booked for this year, then you probably can’t wait to get out there and start exploring your exotic new destination. But how can you do this as safely as possible?
Visiting new countries — immersing ourselves in their culture, trying delicious local delicacies and taking in the awe-inspiring landscapes — is something we all love to do.
However, it’s super important to do this as safely as possible; failing to take the necessary precautions could be hazardous to your health and safety, and even be life-threatening in more serious cases.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Check out the post below for five simple ways that you can travel safely in tropical, mountainous countries:
1.Do your research before you go
Reading up on your travel destination is one super easy thing that you can do to ensure your safety when you’re traveling in tropical, mountainous countries.
There are plenty of resources available online for travelers (as well as popular travel books such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guides) so it’s just a case of finding credible travel sites with good reputations that have plenty of specific knowledge on a country.
For example, if you’ve got a trip to Costa Rica planned, then check out this guide by Anywhere. The vacation-planning site is home to plenty of useful information about this tropical Central American country — including how best to navigate the beautiful mountainous terrain, rainforests and rich coastlines.
It’s a good idea to check the travel advice of your government about your chosen destination to see what they recommend. They may suggest flying between countries that have high-risk border areas such as Colombia and Venezuela to avoid dangerous towns and roads where robbery and even kidnapping may be a risk.
2. Let someone know where you’re going/what you’re doing
It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re headed next and how you’re getting there — especially if you’re traveling solo.
Whether it’s family at home, or hostel friends you’ve been meeting along the way, make sure at least one person knows your whereabouts.
You could even give them your travel itinerary as this blog post by Mapping Megan suggests, with hostel or hotel names and contact numbers listed.
This means that if anything does happen to you, you’ll have people checking up on you, ready to assist or locate you. Likewise, if anything happens at home and someone urgently needs to call you but you’re off-grid or your phone gets stolen, then they will have another way of contacting you.
3. Adapt your planned routes according to current conditions
You may think that traveling in tropical mountainous countries won’t carry weather-related risks like colder countries with sub-zero temperatures and snow-capped mountains do.
And while you won’t encounter dangers such as icy mountain roads, avalanches or poor visibility from blizzards, there are still travel risks to consider.
If you’re visiting a tropical country, chances are it will probably have a rainy/monsoon season and a dry season. If you’re traveling during the wet season, then you’re going to have to factor these conditions into your travel plans.
Wet seasons can cause flooding, landslides, and cause some roads to become inaccessible — meaning you may have to deviate from the route you were planning to take.
Staying informed on current local conditions — including weather, road and traffic updates — will allow you to adapt your planned route to stay as safe as possible while you’re traveling.
4. Buy bus tickets from companies with good reputations
One of our top tips for traveling safely in tropical countries (or any, for that matter)? Buy your long-distance bus tickets from well-known travel companies with good reputations.
Buses are a great, inexpensive way of getting around many countries and enjoying the stunning scenery along the way.
If you choose well, you’ll have a spacious and comfortable seat, air-con, your own individual TV and complimentary meals — some buses in Argentina even serve wine. And if you choose to do overnight journeys, it’ll save you money on a hostel bed for the night.
However, it’s important to pick a reputable company to ensure your safety. After all, if you’re heading anywhere with mountains, it’s likely that you’ll be traveling on high-altitude roads with sheer drops, deep pot-holes and hairpin bends to go with your beautiful mountain views. You want a bus company that you trust — that employs professional drivers, enforces basic safety rules and completes security checks as passengers board.
Travel books, blogs and online travel forums will be able to give you a good idea of which companies to use in each country, so check these out and follow advice from other adventurers to stay safe.
5. Keep your valuables with you
You’ll want your valuables to be safe while you’re traveling through tropical, mountainous countries as well.
However you’re traveling — whether it’s bus, train or plane — it is super important to keep your valuables on you.
Don’t make the mistake of putting your valuables into the stowed luggage compartment — if your bus is making multiple stops, it can be pretty easy for someone to steal your stuff without you even realizing.
Instead, pack a small bag to take with you on the bus. You can fill it with valuables such as your passport, bank cards and money, as well as other useful things like snacks, books and extra clothes (air-conditioning is often turned on to the max, making buses very chilly at night!).
Check out your seat when you board the bus to see where you can put your bag. It’s normally best to tuck it in by your feet, but if you’ve got a seat that someone could reach under to steal your bag, then you may have to put it on your lap. Alternatively, you could put your passport and money in a money belt around your waist so that you can sleep in peace without worrying about your possessions.
These are just five simple ways that you can travel safely in tropical, mountainous countries. Remember to do your research, trust your gut and use your common sense, and you’ll be fine.