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6 travel safety tips

Traveling by cruise ship is a very safe way to go, but it's still best to be prepared.

Traveling by cruise ship is a very safe way to go, and it's usually the case that travel is much safer than you might imagine. However, we do still have to deal with the realities of the world, so it's best to be prepared even if you never need much additional safety. If you're on your way to a solo vacation to relax and unwind in the company of beautiful scenery and a new culture, it's even more important to be watchful of your surroundings and to take care of yourself. While there's no reason to be fearful, it's always a good idea to be cautious, and to that end we've put together some of our favorite travel safety tips:

1. Use simple common sense

When you're ashore, you don't want your vacation to go awry for any reason. While Norway is one of the safest possible places you could be, there are petty thieves in every country. For this reason, make sure you're not keeping your wallet in your back pocket or your purse precariously slung over one shoulder. Use the same sort of vigilance you'd use in any unfamiliar city and you should be fine.

Just in case something does happen, whether it's theft or loss, make sure you have copies of all of your important documents back at the ship, and perhaps emailed to yourself or in picture form on your phone as well.

It is also a good idea to separate your forms of money. Did you bring a couple credit cards? Leave one in your cabin. Same goes for cash - place some in your wallet, some in a pocket and some in your luggage just in case you lose one source or another. This may seem a little paranoid, but you'll be more than happy to have a backup if anything happens.

2. Know your physical limits

On many cruises, you'll have the chance to go on excursions that add a lot to the experience. Before you sign up, though, make sure what you want to do is realistic. A day-long hike may sound lovely, but if you're not as in-shape as you used to be or you have heart troubles, you may be putting yourself in harm's way. The same goes for any other physically strenuous activity. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle and schedule your time accordingly. There's no shame in relaxing on deck, after all.

3. Invest in your health

While you might be fit as a fiddle, you never know what will happen while you're on your cruise. Hopefully, the worst you'll do is oversleep a little and miss the northern lights, but sometimes accidents do happen. In that case, you're going to need medical care, and the bills abroad can add up quickly. Do yourself a favor and purchase travel insurance before you embark - it can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

Similarly, know for sure that you're properly vaccinated and physically clear to go on a trip by stopping in at your doctor's office well before you take off for your cruise.

4. Don't be flashy

One of the easiest ways to become a target for pickpockets is to use expensive devices ostentatiously. Keep the iPhone in your pocket, leave the pearls at home and generally try to be inconspicuous. While most countries you could visit on a Hurtigruten cruise are very safe, it's important to exercise common sense and keep yourself below the radar, just in case. You'll also regret it if you lose a precious possession on a wild excursion - dog sledding doesn't leave a lot of room for you to go back and get your GoPro, after all.

5. Be assertive

If you're traveling alone and you're approached by anyone who makes you uncomfortable, whether someone you meet off the ship or a fellow traveler, don't be afraid to make it clear that you're not interested in conversation. This may be more for your social peace of mind than anything, but it can also prevent unpleasant encounters. Women in particular should not hesitate to be polite but firm about declining social interactions that make them uncomfortable - in fact, Rick Steves suggests making up a very intimidating husband if necessary, even if no husband exists.

6. Share your itinerary with loved ones back home

Especially if you're going it alone, make sure someone at home knows where you will be and when. This can be useful if anyone needs to get in touch with you for whatever reason, and can ease worries from concerned family members and other loved ones.

On a related note, if you strike out on your own at a port, let someone from the ship know where you are going, the route you will take and when you expect to be back - and then stick to that plan.