There is no easy way to say it, when your traveling you will meet many people some who are good and have your best interests in mind and some who are bad and want to harm or steal from you. Below I have listed some of the tips and techniques I use to keep myself safe while traveling.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
There are many tips and tricks I can tell you to help you protect yourself while traveling but I believe what will help you the most is maintaining a heightened sense of personal awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, stay alert, and try to avoid situations that could be dangerous.
Don’t Become Intoxicated
If you drink alcohol make sure not to drink to the point of intoxication. Con artists and scammers target intoxicated persons. Even if you are drinking and not becoming intoxicated guard your beverage. You should never leave your beverage sit out of sight. I don’t care if your at the nicest pub in town just don’t do it. Con artists could slip something into your drink that would further impair your judgement.
Make Copies of Important Documents
Make copies electronically of important documents like your passport, visa, and ID card. You should have at least one copy with you and should leave a copy electronically with a friend back in your home country.
Avoid Shady and Dangerous Places
Places like strip clubs, packed night clubs, and dark alleys are known places for trouble and you should avoid them like the plague. Its simple, if you avoid dangerous places you will most likely avoid all problems.
Leave Some Credit Cards at Your Hotel
You should leave a few credit cards stashed in your bag back at your hotel. This way if your wallet is taken or misplaced you won’t be totally stuck.
Don’t Be Flashy
Your goal is to blend in and all of your flashy jewelry and apparel is making you stick out like a sore thumb. Leave the Rolex, designer handbags, and expensive jewelry at home when criminals see these items they are attracted to you like sharks are attracted to blood in the water.
Know the Telephone Number For Emergency Services
In the United States we use 911 in other countries they have their own telephone number to use in case of an emergency.
Never Look Lost
You should never open your paper map in the middle of the street because as soon as you do this everyone can tell that your lost. Instead plug your destination into google maps and use headphones to listen to directions. To outsiders you will appear as if your listening to music and know exactly where your going.
Don’t Disclose to Strangers Where Your Staying
I won’t go as far as to say “don’t talk to strangers” but you should never tell someone exactly where your staying. This just opens up the opportunity for them to target you later. Instead, pick a hotel nearby and tell them your staying there.
Don’t Let Taxis Drop You Off At Your Hotel / Apartment
This doesn’t mean that you need to be dropped off a mile down the street but pick a pub or hotel that is very close to where you are staying to request to be dropped off at. This will help conceal the location that you are actually staying.
If Your Mugged Don’t Panic
If you are ever targeted by a mugger with a weapon remain calm and keep your movements predictable. Give the mugger your belongings and live to travel another day. There is no material possession worth getting killed over. The only time that it is acceptable to fight back is when you are pretty sure your attacker plans on critically injuring you or your loved ones despite your compliance. If you are mugged always contact your embassy prior to contacting local authorities. Most embassies have a 24/7 emergency number and can help you deal with local authorities and/or advise you on the best way to maintain your personal security following a violent incident.
Keep Some Money In Your Sock
A good friend once told me to always keep $20 USD in your sock and a hotel card in your pocket. This way if you are mugged you can feel good about giving away your phone and wallet and still have a reasonable way to get back to your dwelling.
Keep an Eye on Your Stuff
Always keep your stuff close to you! Do not place cellphones, wallets, or other valuables out on tables where someone could easily grab it and run away.
Know the Location of Your Embassy
When you travel abroad you should know the location of your local embassy and put their telephone number in your phone. Most embassy’s have a telephone number that you can reach after hours also. You can contact your embassy if you believe you are in danger or need help seeking medical attention.
I want to mention that this should not be considered a complete list of things you need to do to stay safe while traveling. Many threats will be specific to the city your in and you should do your research ahead of time to make sure that you are properly informed. Most of all trust your instincts, if you have a funny feeling about something or someone its probably for a reason.
What techniques do you use to stay safe while traveling? Help other travelers by sharing your personal safety techniques in the comments below!