Staying safe when travelling abroad
Even if it’s not your first time travelling abroad it is still important to be vigilant when travelling to foreign countries. Just because you are sunning yourself on an idyllic beach you shouldn’t let your guard down.
As a foreigner in another country you are vulnerable and could be the subject of special attention by the locals. You should bear in mind in poor countries the clothes you stand in can give the impression you are rich.
To avoid becoming a victim of crime you should be alert and vigilant without being paranoid. Staying safe abroad is about being sensible, taking practical precautions and not taking unnecessary risks.
Below are some general tips on staying safe abroad.
Always use the lockers in your hostel room to store your belongings. Use the hostels main safe to store your passport and valuables, especially if you are undertaking a tour, whilst staying at the hostel. If you are staying in a hotel use the safe in your hotel room to store your passport and valuables.
If you are going out for the day only carry a small amount of cash with you to cover your expenditure for the day. Instead of having it all in one location, spread it out over your person. This way if you get pick pocketed you will still have cash on you, to get you back to your accommodation. If possible use your debit or credit card instead.
When staying in a foreign country write the name and address down of your hostel or hotel and keep it with you when venturing out. If you do get lost hand it to a taxi driver, who will be able to drive you back to your accommodation.
Keep your wallet or purse in your front pocket. Never place it in your day bag as you could find it being stolen without you even noticing it.
Before leaving your hostel or hotel look at a map and know where you are going before you leave. If you start fumbling with your map when you are out and about it will be obvious that you’re a tourist and will make you an easy target. Be aware of your surroundings and look around when walking.
Don’t walk alone late at night or take the subway, if possible always take a taxi instead. It may cost you more, but is a small price to pay for keeping safe.
Always make sure someone knows where you are at all times. If you decide to do a bush walk or day trip on your own inform the hostel or hotel on where you are going and what time you are expected back. If you get into difficulties it could mean the difference between life and death.
Avoid crowds where you have to slow down. If you are within a large crowd every time you slow down, you become an easier target.
Be wary if someone slows you down, it maybe a pretext for an attack by an accomplice behind you.
Try and be aware of who is behind you. Be suspicious if the same person is constantly behind you.
Try and walk fast all the time. Every time you stop, to take a picture for example, try and stay alert to what’s going on around you.
Be on your guard when talking to strangers. Anybody who approaches you should make you suspicious. Once they lead you into behaving in a friendly manner, they have the upper hand.
DO NOT keep all your money in one place. Keep your passport and air ticket separate.
Use taxis that are recommended by your hotel or hostel. Never use an unlicensed taxi and always agree on the fare before you depart.
If you are female never respond to strangers. The appropriate behaviour is cold silence and uninterested. Even a ‘no’ can be seen as starting a conversation and never smile this is the worse course of action. The attention given to a single female traveller can be very off-putting, try and do things with other travellers.
DO NOT wear expensive clothes or jewellery; this will always make you stand in a crowd.
Try to dress in a similar style to the locals and give the impression that you live in the country.
Try not to look like a tourist who is lost. Hold yourself as if you live around the area. Getting out a map in the street is a sure sign you are lost and vulnerable.
If you are attacked, take a moment to recover from the shock. Most attacks will be for money, so let the attacker have it and don’t put up a fight. Only fight back if the attacker is clearly disorientated by drugs or drink, otherwise you could be risking serious injury to yourself.
Highly populated areas such as airports, railways and bus stations are favoured soft spots for thefts and conmen. In airports get through customs as soon as possible, as this is a controlled space.
Anyone can become a victim of terrorism there is no foolproof way to make yourself immune to the threat. It is essential you research your destination and your route for known risks.
Be vigilant and look for suspicious people in areas preferred by Westerners.
Show respect for people, their beliefs and sacred places. Do not become opinionated or overbearing with the local people.