If you are considering traveling in the United States, you must make a stop in the state of Washington.
The state sits in the extreme northwest corner of the contiguous United States and has just about everything you would want as a traveler.
This includes arid plains in the East, rugged mountains down the center, a beautiful coastline, and one of the most culturally rich cities in the United States in Seattle.
Washington is a very popular state for travelers both domestically and internationally.
It’s also popular because it’s close to the southwest corner of Canada, a beautiful area in its own right that features the great city of Vancouver.
Some of the best camping and sightseeing in the world exist in Washington.
The city of Seattle is also a popular destination because of its cultural landmarks, like the Space Needle and some of the great Asian food.
Seattle has the biggest Asian populace in the United States of America.
Warnings & Dangers in Washington
OVERALL RISK: LOW
Outside of normal crime concerns found in any area, there is no real reason to be concerned about your safety while you are in the state of Washington. The crime rate is very low, except for a few areas. You are probably in more danger of hurting yourself on some of the rugged terrains the state offers, but even that isn't dangerous unless you are being careless.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
As long as you use reputable companies that have some accountability, you should have zero issues using a taxi or public transportation while you are in Washington. Don't get rides from unmarked cars or people that are soliciting rides from you. Sticking to rideshare apps should help with this.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Pickpocketing is not a common crime at all in Washington. You have a better chance of getting robbed as a resident via a break-in. The only way you put yourself in danger of getting pickpocketed is if you make your wallet or purse very easy to steal. Don't walk around with your wallet in your back pocket, for example.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
There is some risk of a natural disaster, for example, the Mt. St. Helens volcano eruption or an earthquake, but these are rare. For example, the volcano eruption was almost 40 years ago and there hasn't been a similar incident since. Washington does have the occasional mild earthquake, but it is nothing to worry about in any serious way.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Muggings are more prevalent than things like being pickpocketed or other property crimes, but there is no real danger of being mugged unless you are being extremely careless. Avoid bad neighborhoods in bigger cities and never walk around alone at night and you will avoid being mugged.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The United States is very safe when it comes to international terror incidents. There is a small chance that you could be in the middle of a domestic terror incident, but that is so rare that it is not even worth considering when you book your trip. You can travel freely in Washington without any real threat of being in a terrorist attack.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There is some risk of being scammed while you are on vacation. International tourists are considered a target by would-be scammers. Most of these scams take place online while you are booking. Don't use shady third-party websites to book your travel. There are a couple of scams to look out for in tourist areas too, so familiarize yourself with them before you go on your trip.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
The risk for women traveling is more than men, but it is still overall very safe for women to travel in Washington as long as you practice basic safety precautions. Women should stick with their group or move in pairs to avoid becoming a target for attackers.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Washington has some of the cleanest drinking water in the United States, according to the FDA. You should feel zero trepidation when drinking tap water in the state. You may carry your filtered water with you if you like, but it is not a necessity.
Safest Places to Visit in Washington
Much of Washington is extremely safe to visit, so it’s hard to pick one place.
The safest places for tourists are the rural areas.
If you want to visit places with almost zero worries of crime while you are there, stick to national parks like Olympia National Park.
They are heavily monitored and are not known to attract criminals or vagrants.
There are some very safe cities in the state too.
One example is Sammamish, a suburb of Seattle in King County.
If you want optimal safety while you are staying near Seattle, consider booking a hotel here.
It has the lowest crime rate in the state and still gives you great access to downtown Seattle and all the features it has to offer.
Bainbridge Island is another area in the state with an extremely low crime rate.
The crime rate in these places is so low it’s almost non-existent.
Places to Avoid in Washington
Washington is mostly a safe state for travelers, but there are some places to avoid.
Some of the worst neighborhoods in the state are in the most-populated city in the state, Seattle.
There are also some dangerous neighborhoods in Spokane.
The good thing about this is these areas are not typically placed you would even consider going if you are a tourist in the state.
Spokane is in the eastern part of the state and is home to Gonzaga University, but it has had issues in recent years with homelessness and drug addiction, so be careful if you are checking out downtown Spokane.
A great way to avoid bad neighborhoods in these cities is to do a simple Google search before you go.
This search can tell you some of the places around Washington to avoid while you are there to stay as safe as possible.
Be sure you don’t book your hotel in these areas either.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Washington
- Pack for rain. Washington is one of the top states in the United States when it comes to precipitation, namely rain. If you are used to more dry areas, pack accordingly. It will probably rain heavily for at least one day while you are there, especially if you don’t go during the summer. You need to be ready for rain and chilly temperatures while you are in Washington.
- Check the state department website. Visit the Washington state department’s website before you go. Here, they will list a variety of current travel advisories for people visiting the state. These change all the time, so be sure to check often while you are on your trip. The advisories will inform you about any health, travel, or safety problems currently going on in the state.
- Don’t wander alone. If you are out and about in one of the cities in Washington, don’t wander off alone. This will make you a potential target for thieves or attackers while you are on vacation. Consider using something like the buddy system for you and your traveling party while you are there.
- Don’t leave stuff sitting. Washington is very safe when it comes to crime, but that doesn’t mean that you can be careless with your belongings. Never leave your purse or any other valuables sitting around where people can snatch them. Don’t make yourself a target and you probably won’t be one.
- Keep persona info to yourself. It’s fun to talk to locals to get recommendations about where to go and what to see while you are there. Remember that these are still strangers. Don’t give them too much information about where you are staying or what you plan on doing or they could use it against you. Keep your info vague and general unless it’s someone you know and trust.
- Let people know you’re leaving. Tell some friends and family members you are going on a trip before you go and give them your itinerary. This is how they will find you if there is an emergency at home and they need to get a hold of you. It will also give people a good place to start if you have gone missing and they need to find you.
- Know the driving laws. Driving laws are different in the US from state to state. If you are coming from another area, be sure to familiarize yourself with local driving regulations. This will prevent you from getting a ticket or even worse, getting into an accident.
- Stay alert and aware. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you’re buried in your phone or a map while you are walking around in a busy area, you make yourself a target. Projecting an air of confidence can also go a long way.
- Have emergency numbers on hand. If you need to call the police or an ambulance for any reason while traveling, you don’t want to be fumbling around for their numbers. Have a couple of emergency numbers on hand to save time if you are ever in need of them. This can go a long way towards preventing a major disaster.
- Lock up your valuables. Don’t leave valuables like jewelry or a laptop sitting around while you are in the hotel. Keep them locked in a safe to prevent them from getting stolen even if there is a break-in while you are there. This also prevents a wayward hotel maid from stealing your belongings.
So... How Safe Is Washington Really?
Overall, Washington is a very safe state for both domestic and international travelers.
It is an area that is used to handle a high volume of tourists, so they have measures in place to keep you safe.
The people there are also used to having visitors around, so they are friendly and helpful to those that choose to come there and spend money.
Like anywhere else in the world, there are some areas of Washington you want to avoid to be as safe as possible.
These are mostly rougher areas in cities like Seattle, Yakima, Olympia, and Spokane with higher crime rates.
These neighborhoods are almost all residential areas that a tourist wouldn’t be interested in anyway.
Overall, Washington is in the bottom 20 states in the US when it comes to violent crime.
This is impressive considering some of the bigger city centers it has compared to other states with a higher crime rate.
How Does Washington Compare?
There is no travel visa required to travel in the state of Washington from another country. The only time you need a visa in the United States is if you plan on staying somewhere for an extended period or if you plan on working while you are there. You will need a valid passport and a tourist visa depending on where you are traveling from.
Washington uses the United States Dollar. Every state uses the currency, making it easy to travel from state to state while you are there. You can easily exchange your home currency in locations around the state, but the most affordable place to do so is at the airport.
Washington does have all four seasons, but the shift between them is mild compared to states in the Midwest or east coast. The winters are chilly and wet, while the summers are hot and humid. You can have a good time there regardless of what time of year you visit.
The main airport for international travelers is the Seattle-Tacoma airport in King County. It serves international travelers from all over the world and is the biggest airport in the Pacific Northwest.
Those that want complete peace of mind while they travel in Washington should consider purchasing travel insurance. This will protect you if your hotel, flight, or resort cancels on you at no fault of your own. It even protects you if there are cancellations due to weather.
Washington Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Washington - Safety by City