It isn’t as dangerous in the big big world as it’s made to sound like and what we imagine in our heads before traveling. In fact the attitude is the most important factor: if you think suspiciously that the world is out there to get you, you’ll probably just ruin your own holiday and draw more negative attention to yourself.
Instead if you keep yourself open, positive and calm it’s easier for happy people and events to approach and reach you.
Common sense will get you far, but sometimes you just forget certain things, and maybe don’t even come to think of something. Here’s a reminder of some helpful tips to imprint to the back of your brain so that you don’t have to face any unnecessary mishaps.
1. Keep your money in separate places.
It’s good to stash your cash in different locations even on person but you should not carry all of your money with you all the time. So, leave it to your hotel or other accommodation in a safe box or hide it in the room somewhere you know no one would check (just remember where you hid it!).
2. DO. NOT. KEEP. YOUR. WALLET. IN. YOUR. BACK. POCKET.
Unless you want to make an examination of the percentage of how many people will try to pick pocket you. Keep it in the front pocket, rather one with a zipper or buttons. The best option here would be to have a money belt and keep most of the cash (and maybe cards too) there and have only a small amount of cash in the pocket one. The thieves are so slick you won’t even notice the misdemeanor when trying to squeeze through a crowd. Considering they can, after all, even steal the watch and tie while you’re wearing them (proof), your wallet will be gone in way less than 60 seconds.
3. Look back at the seat when leaving a café, restaurant, bench, beach etc.
When traveling it’s easy to get so fascinated by the place you don’t remember you had more stuff with you than perhaps normally.
4. Don’t show your wealth especially in a more disadvantaged country.
Many people that live in larger cities even in the developing countries may have smartphones and laptops but it’s good to play safe and have an eye for where to pull out your iPhone 6 or your $1500 camera. It wouldn’t be a bad move to even have a slightly shabby spare phone on you and use that in public instead.
5. Keep an eye on your stuff at all times.
6. Check in advance the certificates of the teacher/instructor of any dangerous activity, e.g. scuba or sky diving, especially if it seems way cheaper than the other options. You don’t want to spend the rest of your holiday in a local hospital. Or the rest of your life in a wheel chair. Or grave.
7. If you’d get into a situation where someone wants to rob you, give away your wallet and any visible items voluntarily. This way you’ll be most likely to walk out from the situation without a scratch. It’s also wise to have a second wallet with a little cash while keeping the bulk of your cash and cards hidden. And see #1 above.
8. It’s always fun to learn new things but for example teaching yourself to learn how to ride a scooter in a crowded city isn’t without a risk. Definitely not saying you shouldn’t go for it, just wanting to remind to keep your common sense present.
9. Pointing at the two previous statements: get a (good) travel insurance.
It will save you from great grief if something actually happens. Also, if you intend to do or try any special “risky” activities like skiing and water sports, make sure the insurance covers those as well.
10. If you don’t want to pay too much for airport transportation don’t get the first airport cabs, they are always the most expensive ones. This applies especially to the developing countries. Say no to the taxi men that try to seduce you to take their service but walk outside the airport area and pick a regular cab from the street.
Also google if there are tips regarding the country you’re going to travel to and see if someone has said something about the local meaning of cab colours or other transportation possibilities.
11. Don’t give to beggars.
It usually won’t make that big a difference, anyway. If you want to give to the poor donate to a local (trust-worthy) charity.
12. When traveling with someone and you feel like something doesn’t feel right and have a nasty feeling about e.g. a risk your travel companion wants to take, be determined not to submit. There can be a certain peer pressure going on but if you don’t feel right about something be straightforward about it. Or consider parting roads with that person.
Of course it’s advisable to know the person you’re going to be traveling with in advance but sometimes people act differently in a foreign environment and situation than they would at home.
13. Then the cute little street dwellers: stray cats and dogs.
They might not find the idea of a stranger patting them as delightful than it could seem at first. And then they have sharp teeth and claws to protect themselves from this stranger. It’s possible they also have rabies or other diseases so be discreet and considerate about approaching them.
But if you have a deep urge to pet a sweet little baby dog that walks up to you, remember to wash your hands afterwards before putting them into your mouth. If you have heart for stray animals google if the city or the country has an organisation that takes care of them and donate to them. Or you can even apply to do some volunteer work in the organisation.
14. When you travel it’s good to have a smart phone or a tablet that you can use for making reservations and checking your bank account balance. If you don’t you probably need to use a internet café. To keep your passwords for yourself you can try this tip: open a couple other windows with the same web page and in the middle of typing your real password open the another windows and type an incorrect password into them.
15. Be mindful of the culture and religion of the country you’re traveling in.
If you are for example in a country with deeply religious views, for example a muslim country, try to dress more conservatively, especially if you leave the main tourist areas. Often even in the hottest countries the locals wear long sleeved pants and long skirts/dresses. Of course many tourist destinations are used to Westerners wearing shorts and tank tops but if you want to seem thoughtful wear something a bit more considerate.
Check also: Lonely Planet has a travel forum where you can read experiences and tips shared by fellow travelers.