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Ways to stay safe while travelling

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safe travellingsafe travelling

 

Ways to stay safe while travelling

When going on holiday, in your home country or abroad, there’s always stress involved regarding your safety. Because you’re in a new or unfamiliar place, you aren’t exactly sure what to expect and they don’t necessarily promote their “dark side” to tourists. But the reality is, crime is pretty much everywhere, and increasingly so. And the purpose of preparing yourself isn’t to put you off travelling, it’s just generally good practice to be safe – wherever you happen to be.

 

Research

Before you can stay safe, you need to prepare yourself. Before you leave, do some research on the place you’re visiting. Find out about the local culture, the language, the areas you’re wanting to go to, the accommodation areas you’ll be staying in, the nearest hospitals and police stations, and the transport options for getting from A to B.

Everything you need to know should be found online. And if you can find accommodation chains across the country you’re visiting, like Country Hotels in South Africa (http://countryhotelssa.co.za/), rather stick to the one brand where you won’t have a problem with unforeseen issues that vary per hotel. Same with transport, if the bus schedules are safe, reliable and affordable, stick to them. Chopping and changing may just frazzle you and distract you from your surroundings.

Plan your trip as best you can before you leave and prepare for possible mishaps so that you don’t find yourself stuck with no other options.

 

Vigilant

Vigilance is something that should be practiced back home as well. But, when you’re travelling it’s easy to forget, while you’re taking in the sights and doing all the touristy stuff, that you’re not actually sure whether your backpack is closed or fully secured. Carry it in front of you and you won’t need to think too much about it. You’ll also have quicker access to snacks and everyone knows that snacks are almost as important as safety. Almost.

But even in general, be aware of where you leave your things, how open you are with your cash when walking through a market, the jewellery and accessories you’re wearing and flashing around, where you keep your cellphone and whether your general behaviour is asking for someone to steal from you or cause trouble.

If you ever feel unconformable, find a group. Especially at night and leaving clubs. There is safety in numbers and you could even have met the people that night (or not really know them at all) just use their presence to get you safely out to the street and the nearest transport pick-up point.

 

Only what you need

You’ll also feel better about your belongings if you know you’re only carrying the essentials and nothing extra or unnecessary that may dress you up as a target. Leave your travel documents in a safe or locked away at your accommodation place, you really aren’t going to need them to walk around town. A copy of your passport or ID is fine though.

You also don’t need to be carrying around your entire stack of cash through the streets. You won’t be using it all in one day (budget for each day) and also make sure that you’re only carrying around small money. You don’t want to get stuck trying to break a hundred in a small curio shop with curious eyes.

A general rule for carrying light during the day is to make sure that after packing everything, your backpack isn’t spilling out valuables, your back isn’t about to break and you’re able to keep your hands free.

 

Don’t look lost

Another way to stay safe while travelling is to try your best not to look like a tourist. Don’t look lost,r freak out when you’ve taken a wrong turn and aren’t sure where you are or look confused and sheepish as to what to do next. You’ll only expose yourself as being vulnerable to crime or haggled out of all your cash.

Depending on where you go, you may not always be able to hide the fact that you’re a tourist when you’re the only English speaking person in a 5km radius, for example. But you can still walk around and act as if you’ve been here before and you know what you’re doing.

People are less likely to give you a hard time if you’re confident in your interactions and strong with your actions.

 

Peace of mind

Facebook has implemented this safety check-in feature during disasters that happen around the world to let friends and family know that you’re okay. So, for your peace of mind and for those back home, keep everyone updated.

The more of your close friends and family who know your whereabouts and what you’re getting up to, the safer you are in terms of something maybe wrong when you’re travelling alone. They’ll be able to call the local authorities if you don’t check in at your normal times or suddenly stop posting your updates. They’ll have your back should anything happen and they’ll also be super jealous of all the amazing photos you send of places you're visiting. Think of it as just sharing your experiences with your loved ones as a subtle reminder that you’re okay and still having a great time.  

 

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