April 29, 2015 4 min read
Safety is top of nearly everyone’s mind when traveling. Nobody wants to be robbed, feel unsafe, or worry about his/her belongings. While we’d all love to travel only to places that are safe and free of crime, that’s often not possible. For many of us, even traveling within our home countries means keeping an eye out for thieves and scams.
Typical warnings such as keeping an eye on your bags, using the safe in the room, and reading up on common schemes and dangers prior to your travels are all tried and true methods, but what about if there is no safe in the room, you know you’re visiting a place where muggings are common, or still feel a bit uneasy despite being well-prepared? These tips will help give you a bit more peace of mind, even in less than savory neighborhoods and travel situations.
Bring a portable locker
From time to time, especially in developing countries without much tourist infrastructure, you may find yourself in a bamboo hut with questionable walls or a hotel room without a safe. How can you keep your belongings safe and easily accessible only to yourself in these situations?
In cases like these, I put my most important belongings in my backpack, including my money, passport, and electronics, slip on the rain jacket, cover with the PacSafe Wire Mesh backpack and bag protector, then lock it to something unmovable. After traveling through over 40 countries over the past three years, this has been the most reliable and important safety product I’ve had along with me. It packs up small and easily slips into my luggage but provides big relief.
Keep a whistle handy
Keeping a safety whistle within arm’s reach during transit or out late at night can often be a lifesaver. Sometimes, making noise is the best way to scare off both unwelcome people and vicious animals.
Once while traveling in Indonesia, a band of rabid monkeys didn’t take too kindly to me walking by, several feet away. One decided it would not stand down, and came over, teeth bared, ready to bite my leg. I had remembered reading the story of another traveler who blew her whistle to ward away monkeys when she found herself in the same situation, and lo and behold, I tried it and it worked for me as well! Thanks to the whistle for saving me from a round of rabies shots.
Have a dummy wallet on hand
A dummy wallet is a great way to give a thief who is trying to make a quick getaway something tangible, so he thinks he’s getting something good, while keeping your most valuable possessions hidden. When traveling in areas that are notorious for muggings, take out your most valuable items, such as a phone or money, and stick them elsewhere, such as in your boots, a hidden pocket, or another creative place.
Keep some cancelled credit cards, an old school ID, or a library card (you get the idea) in your dummy wallet, along with some petty cash, and give it over willingly should the worst occur. Most thieves aren’t going to stick around to look through the purse or wallet, but are also unlikely to happily walk away empty handed, which is why a dummy wallet perfectly solves the problem.
The fewer items you have to keep track of, the easier it will be to keep an eye on everything, and to keep everything you have with you as much as possible. While traveling, even for a year or longer, I tend to pack only carry-on luggage so that I can always have my bags with me on busses, ferries, trains, and airplanes.
Think it can’t be done? Whether packing for a week, a month, or a year, a few simple tips from this article (and willingness to get your laundry done or hand wash yourself while on the road) can make packing light painless and simple. Really ask yourself if you need your full makeup bag in Thailand, or those heavy boots in Costa Rica, chances are the answer will be no.
Be a less attractive target
In countries such as Vietnam, drive-by motorbike thieves are specifically looking for people holding phones in their hands as they walk, or for bags that have a cloth strap that would be easy to cut. With a cross body bag with thick straps (worn with the bag facing away from the street), such as the Citysafe cross body purse, or photography bags such as the Camsafe V9 anti-theft camera sling pack, the zippers lock, the back is tight on the body, and the straps aren’t easily slashed. You become a much less attractive target the more difficult you are to rob.
Sure, you can still become a victim of theft, but if you’re surrounded by people who are easier targets, such as on the packed streets of Ho Chi Minh City, chances are would-be robbers will go for someone else. When they want a quick getaway, they’ll take the path of least resistance.
In closing, these are a few of the ways to make your travels feel safer and more expertly planned out when visiting various parts of the world where tourists sometimes experience issues. With the right gear, smarts, and levels of preparedness, you can take on the world!
What are some of your favorite tips? What would you add?
Kristin Addis is the solo female traveler behind BeMyTravelMuse.com, a website for off the beaten path adventures! She is also the author of solo female traveler guidebook, Conquering Mountains and How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly.
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