It’s crime-week on Euromentravel.com. After dealing with the Kiev crime rate here comes another article telling you how to stay safe when you travel.
I am introducing 5 universal travel tips that help you avoid getting robbed when you travel. These 5 tps will give you crucial advice so you can stay out of harm’s way while you travel. For you as the single traveler it is paramount to stay on top of things in environments where you stick out. Spending time in a different country will have you be the one who looks, acts and talks not like the others – and more often that not will this turn out to be to your disadvantage.
Without further ado, here come 5 field-tested travel tips telling you how to not get robbed when you travel.
1 | Go Easy On The Booze
The first tip in this article is so darn old that it hardly needs any explanation. When trying to avoid getting robbed when you travel staying sober should be at the top of your list. Why is that?
Being flat-out drunk in the streets of a foreign city will not only make you look like the average Western trash-tourist to the locals, it will also make them lose any sympathy they may have had for you. And that on the spot. The minimal chance that a bystander might stand up for you once things get heated is gone with the wind once he hears you blurting out some drunk
rant or sees you vomiting behind the bushes.
Being drunk and getting into trouble normally comes into play from two sources. The first one are you yourself. Namely, if you happen to be the kind of guy who after two beers cannot hold on to himself when some other kid made eye contact with him a millisecond too long. If such behaviour is a natural trait of yours then any verbal or written advice will not have much effect on you anyhow and you shouldn’t drink any alcohol in the first place.
The second angle is from sources other than yourself. Even if you were the most benevolent intoxicated person ever
and starting a fight would not ever cross your mind then there will always be people noticing you are drunk and thus see your intoxicated state as an opportunity. These people are weak and prey on people that are even weaker, namely you being drunk in a surrounding that is unfamiliar to you.
Being drunk naturally restricts your sight and thus your ability to fight and defend yourself effectively – and these people are well aware of the fact. What they do is play it to their advantage. Be that to actually rob you or just to punch/hit/kick/humiliate you in order to proof themselves to their peers.
In sum: when traveling go easy on the booze. Even more than you would at home.Traveling to other countries you are exposed to all kinds of cultural abnormalities that you have no chance to fully assimilate to. And together with alcohol can this be a harmful combination.
2 | Keep Your Money On A Low-profile
This tip goes not so much for Europe, but primarily for all regions that have third world-like social discrepancies like Sub-Saharan Africa, South America and perhaps Detroit, Michigan.
This advice is often told as not to “flash your money” in the streets. To the average man this advice will sound quite bizarre and obsolete. What kind of person “flashes his money” in public anyway? If you withdraw money at an ATM anywhere in the world you can be sure that people will be discrete about it and that nowhere on this planet are travelers walking around with big wads of cash in their pockets just so they can tip every waiter with a fresh $20 bill. Nonetheless, if you are European it
may seem strange to you at first that being to able to withdraw money from an ATM in the first place is enough proof for many robbers/muggers/thugs to see you as prospect for their ‘business.’
I remember talking to an Argentinian friend of mine who told me that when the recession in his country was at its peak back in 1999 it wasn’t uncommon for people to fall victim to an “ATM-jacking”. What is this eyebrow-raising term about?
In the case of my friend it stood for some pistoleros kidnap him by pistol-whipping him over the back of his head,
pushing him into a car and driving him to the nearest ATM. There, they forced him at gun-point to empty his account and hand over the cash. Actually not remembering your PIN in that stressful situation or just pretending to having forgotton/not remembering it could have cost you your life back then, he said.
Mind you, this was taking place not in Europe, but in Buenos Aires, a city that during the all-out chaos in Argentina resembled more of a Banana Republic than anything else you might encounter in Eastern Europe, the hitherto home base of many major Banana Republics. In Eastern Europe the closest I ever got to a sketchy situation in Europe in regard to money was in Lviv, Ukraine when some lady tried to trick me into believing I had forgotton to pick up my card from the ATM by gesticulating wildly. And that was about it.
While it’s safe to say that noone actually “flashes his money” it all depends on the country you are in whether something is seen as “showing off” or not. What in South America will make you look filthy rich (using an ATM in a country struck by heavy inflation), will most likely not raise eyebrows anywhere else.
3 | Change Your Position
Imagine a heated situation where you had no other chance but to step forward and defend yourself. Whatever the outcome of that confrontation, it is basic situational awareness that you leave the scene once it ended.
If you picked the shorter straw in the confrontation then it is obvious that you want to get out of there the first chance you get. But even if you come out victorious you must leave the spot immediately. Why is that?
The reason is more obvious than you might think. Here is striking parallel: The first thing any soldier learns in combat training is not to engage from the same position if a firefight came to an end or was interrupted. He will be taught to shift his position even if it meant to just fire from a kneeling position if had been standing upright before. Why shift your position?
Because you leaning over the very same edge of the wall is just what the enemy expects you to do. Aiming their rifles the enemy expects your head to pop up at the very same position where they saw it last. And if you do them that favor by not shifting your position – bang.
The bring the parallel into our scenario of staying safe when you travel: If you come out on top in a streetfight then where do you think your opponent will return to after he got his guys together so he can take revenge on you?
He will go to the very same place where he saw you last. And if you are still standing there cooling your face, waiting for the police to arrive (always a bad move, unless you are injured in a life-threatening way) or talking to bystanders then it will be five against one this time.
Bottom line: As soon as the heat has settled, change your position.
4 | No Suitcase, No Backpack
A friend of mine living in Prague once asked me why I would always travel with a bag and never with a suitcase. My answer was simple:
“Because I like to blend in. When I travel I like to live like the locals as much as I can. Also, no matter where I go I always try to learn at least the basics of the local language. And if anything then I don’t want to be seen as a hippie backpacker or as some stuck-up executive traveler.”
After I said this she tilted her head to the side. More to herself than to me she then said:
“Yes, that’s so true. With the travel bag you don’t look like a foreigner at all. You could be a guy coming home from the gym.”
Point taken? As a traveler it is obvious that you will board planes and switch locations continously, meaning you will pack and unpack your luggage ad nauseam. Therefore, you naturally depend on stable cases. Yet at the same time nothing screams foreigner and tourist louder than dragging your oversized suitcase all the way through the city. The same goes for any type of backpack that you had to go the globetrotter’s store for in order to to buy it.
The solution to the problem? It’s simple and may just look something like this:
At $400 no real bargain, but some of the best quality available on the market: Lexdray’s Tahoe Duffle (image via lexdray.com)
May I introduce: Lexdray’s Tahoe Duffel is not the cheapest option out there but comes with an unbeatable quality in processing.
Military grade hardware makes it almost indestructable and with dimensions of just 58.4cm x 35.5cm x 35.5cm it packs an impressive 65 liters – the weight of a well-nurtured woman. Everything that will fit into your long-range suitcase will fit into this little gadget with the one big difference that you can carry it conveniently hanging over one of your shoulders.
Using a travelbag instead of suitcases and backpacks will allow you to blend in with the local crowd almost completely. Even the fistiest punk will no longer have any intention to try his luck with as you look anything but a foreigner that would make some easy prey. Once you ditch your backpack/suitcase for a travel bag you could be a loc-
al student carrying books with him, a local photographer carrying his gear — or just a guy coming home from the gym.
5 | Surround Yourself With Locals (not just people)
Let me just say that this one has nothing to do with sucking up to the locals or pretending to be something you are not.
This being said, one of the easiest, most effortless and most natural safety tip for traveling is to make friends with the locals. As you are interested in them and their lifestyle, culture and everyday life and vice versa it is only natural that you will want to meet locals and get to know them. Networks like Couchsurfing or NightSwapping make it extremely easy to get in touch with people whom you normally had little opportunity to talk to.
Meeting locals while you travel is fun and the more “exotic” you are to them the more will they be interested in meeting you and showing you around. Keep in mind that I am putting the stress on “locals” here and not just on “people”.
The advantage of getting to know the locals gets clearer when you consider the following: While your strong-arm friend who shares the same native language could give you peace of mind should things heat up, as you can be sure that he will have your back, it is the locals who speak the language, who know the people and their typical behaviour and who ultimately got the sixth sense when it comes to judging whether a certain situation will escalate or not.
Needless to say that making friends on the road is an enriching experience. Having locals around you while you travel therefore is more of a natural human trait than a safety tip that you would have to actively purse.