The world in places can be dangerous, but in many places it is usually safe. There are some desperate places and people, maybe even in your home town, but these are a minority. You’re probably more likely to get into trouble at home than when travelling if you follow these common sense tips on your trips.
1. Look Around and Stay Alert
Get in the habit of looking back when you get up to leave somewhere. Travel is very distracting, and you are probably carrying more stuff than when you’re at home, so you’re more likely to leave items behind when you stand up to leave.
2. Don’t Travel Alone
In some places you are better off travelling with other people, or least one other person. You can look out for each other and criminals are less likely to take advantage of two or more people as it is more work for them.
Some parts of the world are relatively safe to travel in alone, but travelling with others can also be more fun than just going by yourself. But be careful not to go wandering off by yourself too far from the group, especially if they do not know what you are doing or where you are going.
3. Scan All Your Major Documents
Electronically scan your travel documents and email them to yourself, or else save them online somewhere you can easily access. If you don’t have a scanner, use the camera on a smartphone or similar. Years ago it was best practice to photocopy your passport and visas, travel insurance, etc., and keep them in a separate part of your luggage.
You can still do that, although today going digital can be a better option that way your documents are not going missing even if your bags do. And you can have clear colour images of your passport, ID card, visas, etc. to refer to or use to prove your ID if you lose them. And in the case of travel insurance, the insurer may well give you a copy of the policy in PDF format, also worth having on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.
If you are using more than one computerized device then put copies of all these on all of them, but not where they are easy to find, in case someone steals one of them. You could put the files in a folder with a neutral name, e.g. Underwear, Carpet Suppliers, or something else just as ridiculous.
You can also keep copies online in a Dropbox account, Evernote, Google Drive, or something similar.
4. Don’t Keep Your Wallet/ Purse in Your Back Pocket
Rather than make it easy for pickpockets, it would be safer to keep your wallet in your front pocket, especially a pocket that can be closed by buttons or zips. Best of all, use an inside pocket of your coat or jacket.
There are also different “money belts” that either hang inside your shirt or wrap around your waist (under your shirt), etc.
It should not be obvious you are wearing one, and do not try to access it and show people where you keep your money get your money out of a money belt in secret out of sight of others.
Make sure as well that it is waterproof, because travelling can often cause you to be sweaty or perspire a lot. Please do not use bum bags/fanny packs there is no more obvious way to advertise the fact that you have a load of valuables on you, and, of course, they were never cool.
5. Avoid Displaying Too Much
Avoid public displays of affluence. If you’re travelling abroad then you’re more than likely to be richer than most of the locals, but advertising this fact by wearing gold jewellery or carrying a very expensive camera around your neck is not advisable. It makes you a big target for thieves.
Leave your expensive jewellery at home, maybe wear very cheap jewellery if you need to wear some, and keep your camera hidden in a bag when not using it. Don’t even carry your camera in unsafe areas, and dress more like the locals than a tourist in expensive designer gear.
6. Don’t Leave Your Belongings Unattended In Public Spaces
This is so obvious, but people do it all the time. Too many people leave their bags at their feet or hanging from the back of chairs when eating out or having a drink. Out of sight, out of mind, and soon they’ll be gone. Either keep them on your lap or wrap the bag’s strap around your leg.
When moving into your accommodation do not leave bags in your room and your room unguarded/unlocked. Especially helpful to have another person with you, so that one of you stays with the luggage at all times when going into your hotel room.
7. Hand It Over
There is a simple rule that can be hard to follow: if you are mugged, hand over your wallet, watch, etc. This shouldn’t be a problem if you you’ve left all your irreplaceable stuff at home. Just do it, and walk away uninjured.
This is also why it’s a good idea to keep money in more than one place, so you hand over the decoy wallet to the mugger with some cash in but you keep another wallet secreted about you with more cash and your cards in.
8. Don’t Give to Beggars
You might feel sorry for the homeless or those who are so poor they have to beg (and so we should), but you never know, especially when travelling, who are the real people in need and who are the con artists.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as monks seeking alms, but that would be rare. In general, don’t give away money to people on the street.
Apart from the fact that you may have to get your wallet/purse out, encouraging begging is not the most efficient use of your money, and a criminal potentially watching you from a distance now knows where you keep your wallet and that you have enough money on you to give some away for free.
Besides which, some beggars are professionals and make more money than you do. Or they are people who made very bad lifestyle choices, and are reaping the consequences of such, and giving them money will not help them at all, especially if they then go and spend that money on drugs.
9. Be Wary of Using Your Credit Card at an Internet Café
Internet cafés’ computers may have keylogging software or hardware that records your keystrokes, so unscrupulous people (not necessarily the owners of the café) can see the username and password to your on- line accounts (banking, email, etc.) or grab your credit card details. There is a good trick to make this more chal- lenging in which you can open a cou- ple of other browser windows (for the website you are using) and halfway through entering your passwords or credit card information type incorrect information into these windows.
Ideally, an Internet café would allow a clean boot every time a customer uses the computer so you don’t get stuff that some other customer put there. This does not foil hardware keyloggers though. And when you are finished, make sure you erase all your browsing history, the browser’s cache, and do not let a browser save your password at all.
Many browsers, including the popular Firefox, Opera, Brave, and Chrome, allow you to do private browsing in a different window, in which no history is recorded and nothing is saved. Once done, just close the private browsing window and no one will know what you looked at (unless they had a hardware keylogger these can often be plugged into USB ports at the back of the PC which you will not see).
10. Do Not Touch Animals
Especially stray cats and dogs, they can carry all kinds of diseases which infect you, including rabies. And dogs might try to bite you if you go too close. And do not touch or tread in their droppings, either.
11. Safety at the ATM/Cash Machine
Since your bank card is a direct link to your money in the bank, guard it as carefully as you would cash or other valuables. Follow these tips to keep safe:
•Make sure that no onestanding near you or behind you can see you entering your PIN on the keypad.
•Be sure to takeany receipts with you that the cash machine gives you.
•Be aware of your surroundings. If the machine is poorly lit, or is in a hidden area, use another location.Using one inside a bank is preferable to one on the street.
•Don’t count your cash or rummage through your personal items while standing at thecash machine, get the cash out of the machine and put it in your pocket quickly, along with your card, and walk away from the machine to a more secure location before you rearrange your wallet.
•If you are using an indoorcash machine that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting anyone come in with you whom you do not know.
•When using a drive-throughmachine, lock your car doors. When walking up, never leave your car engine running, and definitely never leave it unlocked.
•If you lose your card, immediately contact the financial institution that issued it,so ensure you have the contact details for each card you carry in a secure place, separate from the cards.