All we see on television and in the newspapers these days are murder, assault, and chaos all over the world. In combination with the heightening of terror watch you might be convinced that travel right now is something to be avoided. That is not the case.
If you look back over the years you will find there has always been something that could potentially put you off travel. The reality is quite different; as long as you take suitable precautions there is little more risk than walking down your own high street. Most crime, not matter the country you are in, is opportunistic – here are some simple ideas about reducing opportunity (it’s interesting that most of this advice can be used at home to the same effect so don’t think these rules are only for foreign climes!):
Airports – most airports worldwide have people just waiting to take money from you – through their services I mean – if at all possible use those set up officially, use proper cabs, uniformed porters where possible, and don’t wave wads of money around. In a number of countries people will try and befriend you, just remember – nothing is free, if it feels too good to be true then it probably is. Make your luggage readily identifiable using tags with bright colours, but for preference use something that is not easily removable.
Money – make sure you use the secure safe facilities of your hotel. If they don’t have one, distribute any cash you carry around your belongings to reduce the chance of it all disappearing in one go. If you have credit cards do not put them in a single container such as a wallet, that way should the worst happen you still have the means of obtaining cash.
Notification – make sure someone knows where you are and where you are going. It might not sound very adventurous or exciting but if you do encounter problems it is better to have someone who can back you up and notify the authorities.
Hotels – if at all possible, stay in pre-booked hotels and make sure someone that cares about you has a copy of your itinerary. Using an hotel that is owned by a cousin/uncle/brother of the taxi driver tells the wrong people that you re unprepared and new to town. It also says that it is unlikely that anyone else knows where you are – already you are moving up the victim scale and you haven’t even fully arrived.
It is always more interesting to leave the beaten tourist track and there are a number of ways to make sure you don’t become a victim. Trust your first instincts, if it doesn’t feel right or you suddenly become uncomfortable with your surroundings, make your way back out. It is always good to travel with others, preferably people you know. Meeting people abroad is a lot of fun, but make sure you remember they have their own agenda for fun and make sure they don’t lead you into something you feel uncomfortable with. After all, travelling is about having a good time.
The most important rule is to remember that any country you visit is NOT a theme park, it is a real world with good and bad people in it – just like home. Keeping your wits about you is the best way to have a fun and safe time.