Sensible Tips for Staying Safe on Your Travels

It is with a certain amount of fear of the unknown that most of us set out on our travels for the first time.

My first long trip started in Ecuador and every travel guide I read about it warned me about the dangers of being mugged, attacked, conned or generally targeted by criminals. In the end, I loved the country and its warm, friendly people. Nothing bad happened to me while I was there but maybe that was because I followed some basic tips for staying safe on my travels.

Don’t Take Risks That You Wouldn’t Do At Home

I’m not here to lecture anyone on what they should or shouldn’t do while they are travelling. This is a time of freedom and of enormous possibilities, so it is only natural that you let your hair down and have a great time. However, the only times I felt in any sort of danger were the times when I took risks I wouldn’t have taken home. Things like staggering home drunk to a hotel in an area you don’t know well, talking to unsavoury looking characters and trying risky concoctions are the sorts of situation you might find yourself tempted into. The good news is that you can still have the time of your life without taking any of these unnecessary risks.

Don’t Carry Lots of Money or Valuables

I used to carry about reasonably big amounts of money without even thinking about it. Once I started travelling I realised that this is both unnecessary and possibly dangerous. Even if you are careful about storing your cash in a money belt, dodgy people might still take more notice of you if you pull out a big wad of notes to pay for things. If you are going to a relatively poor country then it is also pretty thoughtless of you to wander about showing off your wealth. Most days I would carry enough money to pay for that day’s food and other essential items. There is certainly no need to have loads of money in your pockets every day. The same goes with valuables like phones and jewellery that might make you a target for thieves.

Try to Blend In

ridiculous_touristClearly there are some parts of the world where you will blend in easier than in others, depending upon your appearance. However, it is amazing what the right clothes and attitude can do to help you look at home even when you don’t think that it is possible. Buying your clothes locally is a great help here. There is nothing that makes a tourist stand out more than using the kind of clothing that no local would ever wear. Rather more difficult is the attitude needed to blend in. Obviously there are basic points to remember, such as not pulling out a giant map every 5 minutes and not taking photos of every single thing that you see. Perhaps the key is in simply looking relaxed and at home. If you can wander about in the same way you do at home then it is a great start.

Learn Some of the Language

Not being able to speak any of the local lingo puts you in an extremely vulnerable position. How would you feel about not being able to ask for help, not knowing how to explain medical problems and not even knowing the local words for police, doctor or anything else you might need? You don’t need to speak the language fully in order to stay safe. Just learn a few phrases to ask people to leave you alone, how to ask for help and how to sort out common problems. You will feel a lot more comfortable knowing that you can say these things.

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