As a girl who loves to travel, I know it can be a little unnerving sometimes. Traveling to see new places and experience new cultures is something that I have a passion for. My hesitations for safety haven’t kept me from living life to the fullest. However, it is always best to be prepared for anything. Here are a few tips that will help keep you safer and give you peace of mind while you are traveling alone or in a group. You can use these tips to explore a new city uniquely and stay safe at the same time.
Always be aware of your surroundings
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t just ignore it when the hair on the back of your neck stands up. I can’t count the number of times I have had that feeling while traveling. Usually, it is nothing to be too worried about, but it is always good to know the cause of that feeling. If you have some inkling that you should cross to the other side of the street, just do it. It won’t add very much extra time to your journey, and it will save you the anxiety of walking right past whatever was worrying you on the other side. Always be aware of vehicles traveling around you and which way the traffic moves. Other countries’ vehicles do not yield to pedestrians like they do in the US.
Travel in groups
Lone travelers are the biggest targets for robberies and crimes. It is common knowledge that you are generally safer in a group. If you are traveling by yourself, befriend some fellow travelers that seem trustworthy. It’s always good to be wary of new people, but going on a hike with some new friends might be a better idea than venturing out on your own. If you have a travel buddy, stick with them. I have traveled with my best friend to many places, and we always do our best to stay together and be clear about where and when we are meeting if we part ways for a little while. The more eyes and ears you have to watch out for each other, the better. Plus, doing things with others can lead to more fun and more memories to share.
Walk with a purpose
Know where you’re going. If you are walking through a city, make eye contact with people, and try not to stare at your phone or a map the whole time. If you need a map to find your way, try using Google Maps or a different app on your phone to lead you. You can map out your route for the day and then download the city area and screenshot directions if you won’t have internet access. Unfolding a map and staring at it with a confused face makes you look like a clueless tourist who doesn’t know their way. However you check your map, do so discreetly. Feel free to hop into a cafe or a store quickly to check it before you continue on your way.
Keep your valuables safe
Many people swear by travel belts of some kind. You can wear these under your clothes and keep your money, credit cards, and passport safe while you’re traveling. If you plan to carry a purse, choose one with a shoulder strap and zipper since they are more difficult to steal. If you are a backpack kind of person, be sure that all of your zippers are shut and nothing irreplaceable is towards the top of the bag. Consider an anti-theft strap or lock for your suitcase. I used my phone for pictures and navigation, so I needed it accessible. To ensure I wasn’t an easy pickpocket target, I kept my phone in a zipper pocket of a jacket instead of my back pocket where it usually lives. Most hostels have lockers that will store your luggage and keep it secure if you bring a lock. In general, it is best to keep your hands or your eyes on your possessions at all times.
Carry a safety device with you
There are several different forms of safety devices out there now. Some are apps that track your location and send it to people back home. Whistles and personal safety alarms make noise and draw attention to your situation if you need them to. Others are more about physical safety like pepper spray or keychain weapons. If you plan to travel by plane, research to see which of these safety devices are acceptable to bring on board. I had a combination of different safety devices. For example, I brought a whistle in case my safety alarm ran out of battery or stopped working for some reason. Figure out which items would put your mind at ease and protect you the best, and invest in them before you head out on your adventure.
I know that all of this information can be overwhelming. It can seem like traveling safely is too much work or not possible, but that’s just not true. I encourage you to overcome those challenges if you truly desire to explore new places, eat foreign cuisine, and hike to see the next amazing view. You should follow those dreams and know that traveling can be very rewarding if you enjoy it.