Safety in travel is always a hot topic, especially in a day an age when we get news 24/7 from around the globe. It seems like each vacation season, there will be a new wave of concerns and news headlines. But the truth is, safety is always a concern no matter where you are. I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to see someone’s front door in my neighborhood that doesn’t have a lock. Even in our own homes and towns, we do things to help keep us safe. Safety is more a matter of action and best practices than inaction or trying to find the perfect location where bad things don’t happen. Bad things happen everywhere (remember that front door lock?). You will do more for your safety by following best practices than you will be picking the perfect destination. What are personal safety best practices? We’ve made a list of some below.
Hint: These may not be surprising. They are probably things you’ve heard your whole life. The issue is, we learn to ignore them too. Following best practices is when they are actually helpful.
We all want to live in a world where we can freely roam the streets at any time of night without danger. But that’s not reality. Even in very statistically low crime places, this is not a good idea. Dark areas are a security concern, and it makes it easier for crime to happen unspotted or for a camera to record. It is also more difficult for crime to happen to a group than an individual. Staying in populated places and not being alone solves a LOT of potentially hazardous situations. This advice includes the beach at night. Many beaches are very dark at night. This is not the best place to be alone after the sun goes down.
This is similar to our first tip, but being out late at night comes with other issues as well. Some areas have decreased transportation at night. If you are out past normal city hours, you may not be able to get a bus, taxi, Uber, or train back to your hotel. This can leave you stranded and in a potentially dangerous situation. Avoiding being out late at night to avoid getting stranded or being in areas where there isn’t the security of the public eye. Always make sure you have a transportation plan and a phone number to reach your hotel if something goes wrong.
When you arrive at your hotel, grab a business card from the front desk so you always have a copy to get “home”.
Most hotel rooms come with an additional bolt-type door lock in addition to the lock on the handset. Always use both at night. Check the peep hole in your door before opening it at the hotel. If you did not order anything and don’t need anything, tell the person to come back another time. You can also travel with a normal door stopper. You can wedge this into the hotel door from the inside to make it harder to open. Always make sure your door latches when you go in or out of your room.
We often use vacation as a time to relax. However, even while relaxing, you do need to pay some attention to what is going on around you. Be aware of the people around you and pay attention to any disturbances. If someone is too close to you or following you, go immediately into a group or alert staff nearby.
Some commonly legal items in the US, like pepper spray or other deterrents, are not legal everywhere and most are not allowed in plane carry-ons. Make sure you check the legality of any items and put them in your checked baggage. Sirens that make a great deal of noise are usually legal and easy to pack.
It has become fashionable in travel to find authentic experiences. There are tons of authentic experiences to be found from reputable tour operators. However, people lured by cheap prices or the promise of “true authenticity” can be duped into dangerous situations by buying products or services from random people who hang around in ports or tourist spots. Some experiences cost more because they have things like insurance, vetted employees, and safety standards.
Around every many international airport swarms random locals offering transfers. This is not a good option for safety. Prearrange your airport transfer with a reputable company. If you must use a taxi, look for the taxi stand. Most airports have a designated place for licensed taxis to pick up travelers. Also, have your hotel address and name written in local language.
If you want to explore a city, check in to your accommodations first or leave your bags with the front desk. Do not park somewhere in the city with all your luggage in the car.
Whenever you block your senses, you make yourself unaware of what’s going on around you. Don’t walk with headphones on. It’s best if you can hear what’s going on around you. Don’t drink alcohol to a point where you are unable to accurately assess your surroundings. Don’t go in dark or enclosed areas where you can’t see well. Don’t walk around distracted looking at your phone or a map. Pay attention.
Illegal or questionable substances like drugs are always related to a higher crime rate, no matter where you are in the world. Being around or involved in these things is certainly not a best practice (and usually voids your trip insurance policy).
Most cities have a bad area of town where crime is more likely. Many of these are places savvy locals don’t go. However, tourists can not realize an area in the city is questionable. Or, they can be looking for “authentic” experiences in places that are not wise. Check with your hotel before venturing into any new areas to make sure you aware of good districts.
It’s never a good idea to walk around with tons of valuables on you. It makes you a more profitable target, especially if it’s easy to see you counting your money at a souvenir stand or walking around with a large piece of jewelry. Leave the valuables at home when you travel and only carry the necessary cash or credit cards. Don’t take your full wallet when you travel. Don’t leave valuables in an easy to see location when you are at the beach or pool.
Place your wallet in your front pant pocket or in the bottom of a bag. Things toward the top of a bag are easier to steal. Use a secure bag that is harder to reach into.
Many cultures have aggressive cat calling or forward advances. While not uncommon, this behavior must be met with firm, repetitive rejection or ignoring.
Don’t be afraid to ask for things that help with safety. Ask to be escorted if you are concerned. Ask to see an ID if you question someone’s identity. Ask where you are going if you don’t recognize where you are. Trust your gut. If you get a weird feeling about someone, leave immediately.
About The Traveling Compass:
The Traveling Compass is a full-service luxury travel agency. Our success is built on a foundation of unmatched expertise and outstanding customer service. Our travel agents specialize in international travel, corporate incentive trips, destination weddings & honeymoons, multigenerational travel, luxury leisure, and family travel. We are also Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with experience assisting families that have children with special needs or large families or groups with complicated dining reservations for over 20 guests. Our personalized travel itineraries are designed to help discerning, time-pressed travelers plan the most elaborate vacations, down to the smallest detail. As luxury travel agents, we are dedicated to creating and facilitating travel experiences that expand awareness and give each person a real sense of the country and culture they are visiting. It is our mission to make sure you have the travel experience of a lifetime, every time.