When I was eighteen, I took a journey to Rome by myself with only $700 in my pocket. It was exciting and fun and in hindsight, probably a little risky. When you’re that young you’re incredibly naive; I trusted easily and befriended many people (ahh, the joys of lone travel!). It was an awesome journey but I didn’t take a lot of precautions and it could have cost me a lot.
So today’s post is actually a guest spot from my friend, Daniel. He’s from the UK and a passionate blogger who loves to travel around the world. He’s visited Austria, Hungary, Germany, Greece,the Balkans and the U.S. (plus a lot more). Since traveling is his passion too, he wanted to share a few tips on how to travel safely whether you’re alone or traveling with the whole brood (which hopefully you are and if you need tips on how to do that, click here).
Criminals are constantly coming up with innovative ways to steal from you and they’re even working in groups.
Every traveler needs to be aware and here are a few things to keep in mind (and teach your kids!):
Travelers should start preparing for trouble at home. Before beginning your journey, make sure you make duplicates of your:
- credit cards
- driver’s license
- any other ID cards for your children and family
One set of should be left back with your family or close friends and the other set should be in your bag in a separate place from the original ones. This will save a lot of time if something goes awry. This is an absolute must for international travel.
- Whatever happens, do NOT get distracted.
The most common way a thief succeeds is by causing a huge ruckus or distraction. By creating a chaotic situation, they divert your attention. They can simply indulge you in conversation, stick a map in front of your face and ask for directions, or bump into you causing you to spill the contents of your bag while they ‘help’ you pick it up. They also come in the form of beggars claiming to need help and are often children but don’t be fooled they’ll take you for all you’re worth!
While we’re talking about distraction, I also want to mention drinking. I know it’s commonplace to celebrate when you’re out of town. This is fine as long as you maintain control over yourself. If not, it’s like taking candy from a baby.
- Try to know some useful phrases in the local language.
It is very essential to know a few phrases of the native language. Please and thank you, where is the bathroom, common greetings and how to order for food are a few basics.
Once while hiking in the woods of Ecuador a wild dog caught my way. He started chasing me, it was horrifying! Finally, I found a big stone and held it over my head in a threatening manner. Thankfully, I knew how to call for help. I screamed ‘Ayudeme’ (help me) at the top of my lungs and a nearby farmer heard and came to my rescue. If I would have yelled this in English, who knows how that would have turned out?!
- Blend in.
Try to blend in by wearing clothes like the locals and learning the phrases mentioned above. Thieves normally target tourists with backpacks, people holding large cameras and looking at maps. This may sound obvious but also travelers wearing t-shirts with their hometown name on it- it happens more than you think! When in doubt, I bring a lot of clothing that is neutral like black shirts and denim.
- Leave the valuables at home
Married couples, leave your wedding rings. Go with a smaller, fake band. Your flashy jewelry is only putting a target on your back. And do you really need that laptop? Carrying less valuables will make you useless to criminals. And that’s a good thing, right?!
- Always trust your Instincts.
This the most important tip in this entire list, your instincts are always correct. If you meet a new person and they seem nice but your gut feeling tells you differently, screw manners and get away. If you end up strolling in an area that rubs you the wrong way, grab a cab immediately. Never under-estimate the power of your instincts.
Thanks, Daniel. If you’ve found this post useful, please share it- you may help someone avoid disaster!
What are your traveling tips??
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @ChicTravelingMama :)
Happy and Safe Travels!