Travelling is exciting but only one little glitch can ruin your whole trip.
Keeping safe is a matter of common sense, without being paranoid following simple rules can make your trip more relaxing and pleasant for you and your travel companions. Crime and violence happen around the world and abound in tourist areas.
I have been a tour leader for many years now and even though I warn people I keep on seeing the same mistakes over and over again.
Here are some DOs and DONTs to keep in mind when travelling, especially in cities or touristic areas.
-Safety begins when you pack, to avoid being a target, dress modestly and don´t wear flashy jewellery. Avoid the appearance of affluence.
-Have a photocopy of your passport and of your visa, keep the original in the safe. This will help quicken the process in case of theft and it is also a form of identification.
-Use money belts/pouches under your clothes. Placing your money in front/ inside pocket is safer.
-Wear your daypacks at the front, especially in crowded places and keep a lock on them. If locks don´t fit, you can use a key ring. Wear a handbag with a shoulder strap across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by bag-snatchers.
-Use the safe provided in your hotel or at reception. As an alternative lock your valuables in your suitcase or store them in unlikely places like your toiletry bags, socks, etc. Never have all your money and valuables all in one place
-Keep in mind that road rules and habits may be different from home. Stay extra safe by respecting traffic rules and observe locals, if in doubt do what they do!
-When your luggage gets placed into public transport (like a train or a coach) make sure you can keep an eye on it, especially when people take their luggage off.
-Make sure you know where to go before you set out. Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask for directions from authority or official shops. Always keep a hotel business card with you in case you get lost or you need to take a taxi and always have a charged mobile phone on you.
-Keep your luggage tagged with mobile number, email and postcode. Don’t put your full postal address. Some insurance company give you a tag with a serial number to attach to your luggage, use them!
-When on the beach, especially alone, take the minimum with you. You can decide to trust the person next to you and ask them to keep an eye on your things however keep your things spread out in case. Use a waterproof tube a round your neck to swim with your basic valuables (see image below)
– Be especially cautious in crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals, and marginal areas of cities. Do not use short cuts, narrow alleys, or poorly lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night and use a torchlight.
-Never take bundles of cash out in public or show a wallet full of cash. I have seen more than one thief help themselves and run! It´s better to have some petty cash in your pockets for small purchases.
-Don´t play tourist looking at a map while walking, with all your valuables hanging out camera, phone, etc or you will attract the attention of thieves.
-When in bars, beware of strangers buying you drinks as these might be spiked. Guys, don´t be tempted by foreign women making you buy them drinks, sometimes these want to get you drunk and then rob you
– Use zip ties, clips and neck straps to secure things in your day pack (see images below)
Beware of strangers who approach you offering bargains, hotels, unofficial taxis or to be your guide. Keep to official and legal services.
Common scams among gipsies is to ask you to sign a petition, or pretend to be deaf, or read your palm or offer you a gift (rosemary, “free” bracelet)
It takes just a split second to distract you and get hold of your wrist/hand to rob you of your valuables or be then asked for money for that service/gift.
Beware of pickpockets; they often have an accomplice who will jostle you, ask you for directions or the time, or distract you by creating a disturbance.
Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Do not play hero buy running after the culprit as they could be dangerous.
If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the report for insurance claims.
When you are visiting another country, you are subject to the laws of that country.
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would in an unknown city at home.
What happened to you? Any other tip you want to share? Leave your comments below
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