10 Ways to Travel Safer on Your Next Adventure
Safety is important when traveling, but it’s a factor that many travelers neglect. It’s easy to get wrapped up thinking about all the exciting sights you’ll see and all the cool people you meet, but it’s important to take the time before and during your trip to improve your personal safety—and reduce your risk of being a victim of theft, injury, or accident.
How to Be Safer on Your Next Adventure
These are some of the most effective ways to improve your safety during any adventure or trip:
- Choose your transportation methods carefully. First, make sure you understand the risks and benefits associated with each possible transportation method available to you. For example, you might learn that scooters, while popular, have experienced a higher rate of injury lately. Or you might learn that the most popular mode of public transportation in a given area also has an abnormally high crime rate associated with it.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times by staying sober, staying alert, and keeping an eye on the people and places around you. This can help you avoid problematic areas like the stereotypical dark alley, and notice strange behavior, like someone following you, before it’s too late.
- Walk with purpose. If you’re walking from place to place, walk with purpose. Walking quickly, keeping your head down and focused, and avoiding distractions can make you a much harder target for a potential thief. Keep moving as much as possible.
- Dress like a local. Whether you noticed or not, you probably look like a tourist by default, and people love to prey on tourists since they’re in unfamiliar surroundings, aren’t acquainted with the usual scams in the area, and won’t be able to get as much help as a native. You can combat this by learning how the locals dress, and copying that style as close as you can.
- Minimize the cash you carry. This should go without saying, but the less you have on you at any given time, the less a thief can potentially make off with. If you keep a minimal amount of cash on you, the total damage done by a single mugging or pickpocketing incident will be almost negligible.
- Keep your travel documents secure. Travel documents like passports, tickets, and other forms of ID, are common targets of thieves. Make sure you keep them protected as best you can, keeping them stored in a safe when you don’t need them, and keeping them in a secure vessel when you’re carrying them with you.
- Keep some of your possessions tethered. Pickpockets are common in tourist-heavy areas, and they’re quite good at what they do. You can protect against them and opportunistic robbers by tethering your most valuable possessions to your person, such as with a wallet chain.
- Learn the common scams. Before you leave, it’s important to read up on a given area and learn about some of the most common scams pulled on tourists and visitors there. For example, you might learn that fake taxi cabs often attempt to kidnap unsuspecting tourists, or that “tour guides” around a popular destination will actually try to pickpocket you. If you’re not sure what’s common in a given area, see if you can befriend a local and ask them what to watch out for.
- Avoid sharing too much. It’s tempting to share photos and your itinerary with all your social media contacts, or even with the people you meet in your journey, but this can leave you vulnerable. If the wrong person gets ahold of your travel details, they may be able to track your movements and learn when you’re most vulnerable.
- Travel in numbers. One of the easiest things you can do to stay safe is to travel in numbers. Criminals are typically opportunists, and would much prefer attacking someone by themselves than trying to take on a whole group of people. Even having one travel partner can dramatically improve your safety.
If you plan on traveling regularly, or you’re interested in a bit of extra protection, consider learning some basic self-defense techniques. Learning the most vulnerable parts of the human body and how to fight back effectively can buy you a few extra minutes—or even get you out of a bad situation entirely. If you’re interested in learning things more in depth, you can consider taking up a martial art focused on self-preservation, like krav maga.
Even minimal changes to your habits and awareness can have a measurable impact on your safety. Stay aware, keep learning, and you’ll be far less vulnerable to accidents, attacks, and theft.