Hodophobia is such a lonely word. How can something so amusing, like traveling, send shivers down someone’s spine? However, we cannot judge hodophobics for being scared of leaving the comforts of their homes. The world has its shady aspects and traumatic traveling experiences, like getting mugged, harassed, and injured, do happen even in the “safest” places.
But just because there are bad guys out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up traveling. You can relish giving in to your wanderlust while keeping yourself safe. You just have to prepare for worst case scenarios and amp up your defense against these mishaps with these traveling tips.
1. Stop dressing and looking like a tourist. Silly souvenir shirts, shorts, flip flops, ugly fanny pack, expensive smartphones, and a DSLR camera dangling on the chest – all these things scream, “Hey, I’m a tourist” without having to say anything. These little details call perpetrators’ attention and you know how they love to target tourists, right? Tourists (1) possess money, (2) aren’t familiar with the foreign territory, and (3) tend to get distracted easily, which makes them vulnerable to theft and harassment.
It’s safer to blend in than stand out when you’re in a foreign land. Select comfortable and modest clothing preferred by locals. Apart from not looking so “touristy”, avoid displaying flashy things, like pieces of jewelry in public to prevent enticing fraudsters.
2. Hide currency in several places. Don’t stock all your bills inside one wallet or purse. Have small envelopes filled with some money and discreetly put them in your shoes, inside a money belt, and even in places where the sun doesn’t shine (a.k.a underwear). In this way, you’ll have additional funds in case some pickpocket experts steal from you.
3. Use a dummy wallet for fake-outs. Trick the trickster by putting outdated credit cards, fake Ids, and perhaps a few small bills inside a dummy wallet. You can hand the wallet to thieves and use it as an opportunity to escape.
4. Refrain from displaying money and valuables in public. Gadgets and money are better off hidden. If you have to count your dollars after withdrawing from the ATM, try to do it inside a bank, where you can be protected by armed security personnel. And try to use cheap, less conspicuous bag so nobody, including criminals, would bat an eye. Nobody will ever think you’re storing money and some precious items in them.
5. Carry self-defense weapons. No, we’re not referring to guns and knives – unless you want to face jail time abroad. We’re talking about personal, non-lethal products like pepper sprays, stun guns, whistles, and personal alarms which give you the opportunity to escape when criminal activities arise. However, you should do your research first before using them. When not used properly, the perpetrators may snatch your weapons and use them against you.
6. Hold copies of your passport. Before traveling, make sure you have photocopies or electronic backups of your passport and other necessary documents. These help in case a natural disaster hits your hotel or someone steals your luggage. Also, ask contacts in your home city to hold extra copies should you lose all of yours.
7. Remain vigilant in crowded places. Lurking in crowded places, like marketplaces, sidewalks, and tourist sites are pick pocketers and bag slashers hunting for their victims. They know how people, especially tourists, get easily distracted with interesting things like unique market finds and talented entertainers in the sidewalk. Bad guys use the tourists’ weakness to their advantage and attack when their target isn’t attentive enough to watch over their belongings.
Don’t be a victim and double your alertness, even while inside hotel premises. If you have the tendency to zone out, try to angle your bag in front so you can see and feel it.
8. Travel with a group. Embarking on an adventure alone is self-gratifying – until you finally need someone’s help. If you’re traveling to farther places and you feel defenseless when criminal activity arises, it’s better to travel with a group. And besides, this is often more fun than going solo.
9. Avoid the dark alleys. If you happen to go out at night, always find a way to trek bright and busy streets, and briskly walk in the middle, not in the corners. If you suspect being followed, look for the nearest well-lit and crowded places like cafe, gas station, hotel, and other public places.
10. Stay sober, for crying out loud. This is a no-brainer. Regardless of age and gender, getting drunk in an unfamiliar territory with people you don’t know is like asking for trouble. You might get robbed, harassed, or even get killed when you’re under the influence of alcohol. If you decide to drink all the way, you might as well bring your trusted companions and loved ones with you.
11. Don’t get swayed by wolves dressed in sheep’s’ skin. Looks can be deceiving. If someone approaches you, like an innocent-looking old lady for instance, and tells you to take her to a particular address for whatever reason, never ever say yes. Instead, call out cops or some security personnel nearby and let them help her. There’s a big chance she’s trying to take you to a dangerous place.
Same goes when strangers suddenly are “too good to be true.” In times where various criminal activities are occurring, we cannot blame some people for having trust issues.
Author Bio: Mina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Accommodation, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional accommodation, service, and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.