Safety Tips continued...
It's your Bag: Never let go of your shoulder bag. When walking,
it goes across your body, resting in front of you, or under your
armpit, but not over your shoulder. When sitting, take it off
by all means, but put your arm or leg through the strap. The same
goes for your camera. When sleeping in a bus, train or vulnerable
room, lock your bags up, and then lock them to something immovable.
Bag snatchers are not uncommon in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France
and Greece, in addition to more obvious places like Turkey, Peru,
*a light bike chain & lock can be handy if doing a lot of
train time. On trains make sure you can see your bag the whole
time, especially when approaching a station, or have it locked
* some backpackers put light chicken wire inside their packs to
protect against slash & grab razor merchants found in South
Speak the Language: Apart from making life easier, a small grasp
of the language will also help you to develop protective relationships,
to earn a degree of respect from lightweight thieves, and to slip
into the background more easily. It's smart to read up on local
culture and traditions too.
Safety in Numbers: Travel in pairs if possible. If not, be wary
but not paranoid, of friendly local people. Most of the time they
will be genuine.
Calculate it: Ensure that you recognise and understand
the values of different local banknotes, especially in areas of
high inflation. Work out how much you should get before you go
anywhere near the change place. Carry a calculator and be seen
to use it when you change money, even at official currency change
shops. Beware of sleight-of-hand merchants, especially when changing
money on the street. Count the money in your hand, and
don't allow him/her to recount in his hand!
Don't take the Biscuit: Avoid food and drink offerings
from strangers. They can be drugged, a growing global habit, though
especially prevalent in Latin America and South East Asia.
Driving crazy: Beware the flat tyre and the helpful
locals who distract you with fast talking assistance while an
associate surreptitiously rifles your vehicle. Especially a problem
around Barcelona and Madrid, but also known in France and Mexico.
Southern France, on the other hand, specialises in smash and grab robbery, often on motorcycles or scooters. So keep your
valuables locked in the glove compartment, check your tyres often,
and never stop for anyone except police. If you have to stop do
it in a busy well-lit place. And carry a quick (temporary) repair
Don't give it away:
in some countries, such as Pakistan and the Russian Federation,
conmen sometimes pose as secret police, demanding to see passports
and other documets, even money. They then either disappear with
your valuables or hassle you for a bribe to let you go. Check
their documents carefully first,
before letting go of your valuables!
Log on: Deposit important data (passport/credit card/travellers
cheque etc. numbers) onto a secure web site - maybe scans of key
pages - so if you are relieved of your kit you can retrieve the
data from a local cyber café. The Lonely Planet site Ekno
page, is one organ that provides this free service, or use a Hotmail
or Yahoo! account and mail yourself the data.
Unlucky for some... get insurance! One
in seven British travellers on overseas trips don't have any insurance.
This is madness, and I speak as one who has been robbed three
times, had bags crushed once, and had to cancel a trip through
family illness on another occasion. In every case I was fully
reimbursed -less a small excess charge - by my insurers.
Problems and accidents are far, far more frequent abroad, and
local assistance may be very costly. For example, a broken leg
in the USA may cost up to £10,000, yet a year's worldwide
insurance with a good company will cost well under £100.
Me, I'd rather skimp on home insurance than travel insurance.
Ensure your bedroom door locks/bolts from the inside, especially
in lower level establishments. If not, stick a chair under the
door handle or push something heavy in front of it. Always
keep it locked when you are asleep.
There are many recent reports of surreptitious nighttime thefts
- of all vlauables - in cheap hotels, particularly in Thailand's
island of Ko Chang and some Indian establishments, where
staff are clearly in cahoots with the local police and no effective
investigations are made.
Young backpackers are especially careless/trusting in this way
and vulnerable after a hard night's bingeing.
And for the really paranoid:
a card that contains the following information: your blood type,
allergies, medical conditions, any medication you must have, your
insurance company, who to contact in an emergency and other safety
Avoid advertising yourself as an employee of a prominent global
Remove identifying tags on your laptop bag etc.
Request a room on the third to sixth floor to keep you out of
reach of criminal activity on the street and still be within reach
of fire engine ladders.
Register with your home country's embassy/consulate as soon as
possible after arrival at your destination if going into a sensitive
Keep a copy of your passport and/or visa with you at all times
and secure the originals. When in a politically sensitive area,
carry your passport, return travel tickets and local and home
currency in adequate amounts at all times, in case of need to
evacuate on an immediate basis.
Avoid wearing religious jewellery (even under your clothing) or
carrying any political brochures or publications in areas where
such symbols might subject you to harassment. Safety first!
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Usually totally safe:
Austria, Iceland, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Luxembourg,
Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Oman, Scandinavia, Singapore,
Generally non violent thieving:
Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, China, Costa Rica,
Cuba, Egypt, Europe, Gambia, Greece, Hong Kong, India*, Indonesia*,
Israel, Mali, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Peru,
Russia*, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam
Sometimes violent thieving:
Brazil, Cambodia*, Colombia, Ecuador*, Guatemala, Guyana,
Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan*, Panama, Papua New Guinea,
Philippines*, South Africa*, Sri Lanka*, Tanzania, USA
Don't even consider (unless escorted):
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Burundi, C.A.R, Congo,
Chechen Republic, Dagestan, DRC, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia,
Eritrea, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone,
Sudan, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zimbabwe
safety depends on the region of the country you're in.
world's least safe streets
from MoneyGram money transfer service)
Snake Alley, Taipei 2) Khao San Road, Bangkok 3) King's Cross, Sydney 4)
Times Square, New York
5) Tverskaya Ulitsa, Moscow 6) Bois de Boulogne, Paris 7)
Chandni Chowk, Delhi 8) Frenchtown, Shanghai
9) Las Ramblas, Barcelona 10) Stazione Termini, Rome
Safety part 1 | Travel Robbery
Stories | Dangerous
UK Emergency Travel Documents Information (lost or stolen passports) | Travel Health
Any comments or suggestions?