One of the ingredients to the joy of travelling is leaving familiar, comfortable surroundings to head off to parts new, unknown (well sort of) and different. That desire to experience something other than the routine; to dip into the sounds, smells and sights of other places are some other items in that rich fruity cake of travelling.
Along with your passport, ticket and toiletry you should pack healthy portions of caution, alertness and prudence. Not to sound alarmist but the very lure of the unfamiliar, the novel and the uncertainty of what awaits may also contain elements of risk and unpleasant encounters that can spoil your whole adventure. There is no better target, for the unscrupulous, than an unwary traveller.
We catalogue several safety tips to ensure your roving is a pleasure. Some may seem self-evident and obvious and for those very reasons need reminding.
- Take out travel and medical insurance.
- Take the recommended shots and vaccinations for the places you are visiting.
- Give a copy of your itinerary to family or good friends before you leave home. Update them on your activities and location regularly.
- Make and carry photocopies of your passport, ID and other documents.
- Blend in as much as possible. Don’t mark yourself as a tourist. Refrain from loud, colourful clothing.
- Pretend you know where you are going or doing. Don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk looking lost or consulting a map. Instead step into a shop or café and gather your thoughts and bearings – and consult that map.
- Put away your camera, in a small bag, as much as possible. No other item marks a tourist like a neck-dangling camera.
- Don’t attempt to hitch a ride or use un-official cabs and taxis. Use the public transport even if it is a little irregular and rundown.
- Use credit cards and travellers cheques; avoid cash as much as possible. Carry them in a cash belt or hang it in a little bag under your shirt or upper garments. Better still spread your money around your person.
- Do not carry your wallet in the back of your jeans/trousers.
- There is no need to broadcast your travel plans, where you are staying or next destination.
- Avoid obviously run-down and badly lit areas of the city.
- Don’t wear/display or carry expensive jewellery. Travel in a foreign country is no time to ‘shine.’
- Beware of scams. Conmen posing as police officers, tour guides and overly helpful/knowledgeable locals who know the ‘best’ deals are just some common tricks of their trade.
- Don’t accept drinks or food from strangers.
- Watch out for people who seem to be too interested in what you are doing and turn up where you are – too often.
- Don’t leave your bags and other belongings unattended in public spaces. This is probably the commonest loss cause.
- Last (on this list at least) but the most important item on your safety checklist is don’t be heroic. If you should, unfortunately, be the victim of a holdup or mugging don’t resist. It is much, much better to lose your wallet and a few small possessions than sustain an injury in a strange city in a foreign land.