When planning a vacation or a travel adventure, the last thing you want to think about is being robbed or kidnapped.
In a study to find the effects of news media on leisure tourists’ perception of risk and willingness to travel, researchers found many tourists place higher importance on culture and adventure, despite risk in an area. This is a frightening statistic that could lead to dangerous scenarios for travelers.
If you’re organizing a trip over the next few months, consider some preventative measures in case an unwanted scenario occurs. Here is our list of useful tips to help keep you safe while traveling.
Theft can take place in many forms, from an organized mugging to a sneaky pickpocket. Here are some pointers to help avoid theft from occurring.
● Avoid Carrying Large Sums of Money
When paying for coffee, lunch, or an item at a gift shop, you may inadvertently flash your cash and become a target.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash to prevent passers-by from noticing. If possible, keep your money in a zippered inside pocket of your purse or backpack, sunglasses case, or even a toiletry bag.
● Don’t Walk Alone
If you’re traveling with a group, take advantage of safety in numbers and walk in well-lit areas. While roaming with multiple people doesn’t guarantee your safety, it makes you a lot harder to target. Plan excursions ahead of time and avoid walking alone, especially in unfamiliar locations.
● Invest in Good-Quality Travel Bags
It’s quite common to spend hours, if not days, trekking through a city or landscape while traveling. Carrying a bag with a host of important belongings is unavoidable on certain trips. By investing in a quality backpack with reliable pockets and reinforced zippers, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of avoiding being robbed.
Opt for a sturdy backpack that contains zippered pockets on the inside. Even if someone tries to pickpocket you, they need to get through several layers to find your valuables.
● Purchase a Strong Lock for Your Suitcase
While a lock may not prevent your suitcase from being stolen, it can offer enough security to protect its contents. If someone gets a hold of your suitcase but has trouble opening it, they may abandon the pursuit in search of an easier target.
● Carry a Duplicate Wallet or Purse
Carrying a second wallet has multiple purposes. Storing a small amount of cash in a duplicate purse means you can hand it over to a potential thief during a mugging without parting with a lot of money or important credit cards.
You can hide money and credit cards in a duplicate wallet while using a different one for regular use. A duplicate wallet can also be used as bait if you’re spending time in a dangerous area. By leaving a wallet with a small amount of cash and expired or unneeded cards in your hostel or hotel room, you can bait a criminal into a snatch and grab. Hopefully, they take off after finding your apparent stockpile of cash without ransacking the rest of the room.
● Use Encryption and Password-Protection
People are increasingly using their smartphones and QR codes to pay for items, transfer money, and store identification information. Ensure you are not subject to identity theft while on vacation by securing your electronics with encrypted passwords.
You can also download anti-theft software to your device, such as Prey, Cerberus, or AppLock, which automatically locks your phone, takes photos of the thief, and tracks your device so the authorities can retrieve it.
Although it might be unlikely, kidnapping is a realistic threat, particularly for unsuspecting tourists. Here are some important preventative measures to reduce the risk of kidnapping.
● Carry Pepper Spray
Self-defense pepper spray is one of the most effective deterrents to kidnappers or attackers. When it is sprayed into someone’s eyes, pepper spray causes immediate pain, eye closure, and temporary blindness. The severe discomfort and pain can render an assailant incapacitated.
Ensure pepper spray is legal to carry in your destination country.
● Purchase a Self-Defense Keychain
A self-defense keychain can come in a variety of styles. Some are subtly disguised as cute animal toys but contain sharp points and edges to be used to fight off an attacker. Other safety gadgets for your keychain include miniature pepper sprays, stun guns, and pocket knives. These are useful non-lethal weapons that could save you from a kidnapper.
● Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Awareness is key when you’re traveling. Even when vacationing with a group, there is no guarantee of safety. Plan ahead where possible, map out travel routes, avoid traveling at night, and keep an eye out for scams.
Nights out can be dangerous if alcohol is involved. Know your limits and don’t accept free drinks from strangers. Try not to attract attention by wearing flashy jewelry.
It’s beneficial to learn a few key phrases in the local language. Knowing the words for “help” or “stop” can alert passersby to your situation if you are being attacked or robbed.
Planning and Risk Assessment are Critical
The more you know about a travel destination, the easier it is to prepare for potential theft or kidnapping. Research the dangers associated with your destination region and plan how to avoid them. Weigh the risks, stay vigilant, and make informed decisions.
As a back-up, it’s always beneficial to carry some form of self-defense equipment. Don’t waste time worrying about an attack, but plan and prepare for worst-case scenarios.