Travelling to parts of the world that are unknown to us is at once exciting but also potentially risky. News reports can heighten the sense of risk to the point that it becomes indistinguishable from paranoia and this is the point at which travelling stops being fun. Some simple rules can help travellers tell the difference between risk and fear and ensure that they have an enjoyable, secure time whilst abroad.
photo by Henrique Vicente
When travelling, always use your common sense to judge situations and scenarios you encounter. This sounds obvious but for many people the moment they go on holiday they begin behaving in ways they never would at home. In practice this means not walking alone at night, not carrying large amounts of cash and, whether you are lost or not, always look like you know where you’re going.
Carrying prominent valuables make you a target and this is true in large western cities as much as it is in less developed parts of the world. Many tourists have been shopping for all new clothes and equipment just before the left home and consequently they look like ideal victims to many robbers. In some places an expensive car will attract unwanted attention, otherwise it may be phones or a camera. And again, never flash large amounts of cash around.
One of the main ways that travellers can make themselves target for thieves and other criminals is by being incapable through drink or drugs. Drink spiking is a problem in some parts of the world, so don’t leave your drinks unattended and be suspicious of overly friendly strangers in bars. Often though, travellers need no help to get themselves too drunk and present an easy opportunity to criminals so drink sensibly. Experimenting with drugs while abroad is a good way to get yourself in serious trouble, if you’re not robbed and don’t end up in hospital the police are always available to throw you in prison.
The biggest killers of travellers and tourists around the world are road traffic accidents. The standards of road safety in other parts of the world are usually much lower than in western countries and this, combined with the lack of common sense many travellers exhibit, can be a fatal mixture. Bad luck will always play a part in this but you can minimise risks by never getting in a car if the driver has been drinking and always wearing a seatbelt.
Finally, always let people at home know the itinerary you intend to follow. This gives them some way of loosely tracking your movements and if, heaven forbid, you do go missing, they will know much quicker and be able to initiate local help. Most western embassies also have registers of their nationals in a particular country and registering with them can ensure you have local help quickly should anything go wrong.