I believe that bad things can happen anywhere. You don’t have to be in a foreign country that is known for its crime to be robbed. However, being aware and using some basic steps of caution will help you out in whatever country you find yourself.
1.Register With STEP:
If you are a US citizen, you should definitely register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) before traveling. This allows the US government to notify you regarding potential security threats in the area you are visiting, get in contact with you regarding natural disasters, and gives family and friends a way to contact you in the case of emergencies. I always register with STEP before I travel anywhere and definitely feel a little safer knowing that the local embassy knows that I’m in that country in case of disaster.
2. Get Travel Insurance:
Travel insurance has multiple benefits. Not only will it help you out in case you get hurt, it is also great if one of your belongings are stolen. I highly recommend World Nomads. They are the only company I use and I absolutely love them. I’ve gotten sick abroad and they covered everything. I luckily have never had anything stolen, but I know people who have and they were fully reimbursed for their losses. Check ’em out here!
3. Know Your Address:
If you get lost, your phone dies etc. it is good to know the address of the place you are staying in your mother tongue and your local language. I write it down and keep it on me. Sometimes in a panicked situation, it’s easier to just hand someone your address rather than try to think of it.
4. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings:
When you are traveling it’s easy to get distracted by all the beautiful new sites, but you need to also be aware of the people around you. Look around often and avoid standing in large crowds.
5. Research What Areas To Avoid:
If you are not familiar with a city it can be easy to find yourself in an area you don’t want to be in. Before you travel research what areas are best to avoid and mark them on your map so you know.
6. Carry A Fake Wallet:
If someone asks you for your wallet pull out the fake wallet and throw it past them. When they run after it, run away.
7. Keep Money In Several Locations:
Don’t put all your money in your pocket or purse. It’s best not to carry much money at all, but if you have to, divide it up. I put some in my shoe, some in my bra, and some in each of my pockets. That way if I am robbed they hopefully won’t find all of the money.
8. Get A Secure Bag:
If you want to walk around with a backpack get one that has a lock. It will make it more difficult for anyone to steal anything out of it. If you like to carry a purse, I recommend a cross body bag. It is too easy for someone to slip a bag off your shoulder. Also, with a cross body bag, you can position it so it rests on your front thigh so you can always see the zippers.
9. Avoid Dark Areas:
Stay on roads with streetlights and avoid walking really late at night. A few weeks ago here in Costa Rica my boyfriend and I were walking home around midnight and passed a hotel. A tour bus was sitting outside and some people were unloading suitcases. A guy was lurking in the shadows just waiting to steal the suitcases.
10. Keep Personal Info Private:
People in other countries are bound to be interested in your story. Don’t reveal too much. If traveling alone, NEVER tell anyone that. I always just say I’m with my boyfriend and he is on his way.
11. Dress Minimally:
I know, it can be tempting to buy a ton of new super cute clothes to wear while in another country, but don’t. Dress simply and conservatively. Don’t wear any flashy jewelry. If you stand out you are much more likely to be a target. I know, sometimes you’re automatically a target because of your skin color, but don’t add to that by being showy.
Probably best not to walk around like this
12. Lock Everything:
When going out make sure you lock your car, hotel room etc. Also, in your car put all valuables out of sight to eliminate the chances of the window being smashed and your things being stolen.
13. Copy Passport:
Some people say to copy credit cards as well. I don’t like to risk someone getting their hands on my credit card numbers so I copy them and leave the copies at home with someone I can trust. If something happens abroad they can always relay this information or fax it to you. I don’t carry my passport with me anywhere in another country. I always keep it locked up in a secure spot at my hotel. You can ask your hotel to lock up your passport in their safe (if you trust the hotel). I only carry a photocopy in case I need to show it to the police for whatever reason. Of course, I always forget this when I’m in the US and try to buy alcohol and get denied because I don’t have a proper ID…grrrrr!
14. Walk Facing the Traffic:
If you walk facing traffic motorcyclists will not be able to drive up behind you and grab your bag. Where I live in Costa Rica this happens rather often. Walking facing traffic also means you will see any cars coming and are much less likely to get hit.
15. Only Use Registered Cabs:
Check online beforehand to learn about how taxis work in the country you are visiting. Learn what cabs are registered by the government and only take those. For example, here in Costa Rica the registered cabs are red and have a special sticker. Also, if you like Uber do some research on that as well. There are several countries now that have Uber, but they are not allowed to by the government. I read a story last week about a guy that didn’t know that and almost got arrested when his Uber driver was pulled over in Columbia.
16. Don’t Fight Back:
If someone robs you, let them. It’s better to have to cancel your credit cards and lose some money than to fight back and get attacked. It’s just not worth it.
17. Tell Someone Where You’ll Be:
When you go out tell someone where you’ll be. Even when traveling alone just send someone from home a quick message telling them where you are going that day.
18. Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended:
Roofies. It can happen. If I feel a bit sketched out by a place I always order bottled beer and keep my finger over the opening when I’m not drinking it.
19. Trust Your Instincts:
If you feel hesitant about a person or a location, trust yourself. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
20. Research The Culture:
It’s best to know local customs, styles of clothing etc. before going somewhere new. This will allow you to not commit a major culture faux pas and make people angry.
21. Know The Address And Phone Number Of The Embassy:
If something does happen to you, it is important to be able to get in touch with your local embassy. They are there to help you.
22. Keep Your Room Secure:
Try to get a room not on the first floor of a hotel (they are most often broken into). I always put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door even when I’m not there, so it looks like someone is in the room. I recent heard a great piece of advice to travel with a rubber door stopper and wedge it between your door. Even if someone breaks the lock the rubber door stopper should keep them from getting in. I haven’t tried this myself yet, but it seems like a good piece of advice.
The world is amazing and fear shouldn’t keep you from seeing it. Follow these tips and your chances of having a fabulous time abroad will greatly increase.
Here are a few great products that will keep your stuff a little safer 🙂
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