Traveling can be one of the most wonderful experiences in life as well as one of the daunting. Visiting a different culture might push us out of our comfort zone and at times, can expose us to new threats. But with a bit of common sense and some preparation and planning, travelling will be an amazingly rewarding experience.
I’ve listed here 5 basic tips that will make it difficult for others to target you so that you can be safe when travelling.
Prepare your trip
Travel guide books, forums and other online resources offer plenty of information on threats; scams and other potential inconveniences one should look out for at most destinations. I recommend looking up neighborhoods to avoid, common scams and dangers, as well as how to get from the airport to your hotel, office etc. Unless public transport is suitable, Uber is a good way to prevent haggling over the fare and to avoid cash transactions. Also, it gives you the driver’s identity and keeps track of the car by GPS.
Situational awareness is key to safety no matter where you are. You can’t defend yourself against a danger you didn’t see coming. Paying attention to what is happening around you might help you spot someone following you, potential pick pockets or simply not getting run over by a car when you cross the road. So leave your earphones at home and your phone in your (inside) pocket and enjoy your surroundings while staying alert!
Don’t look like an easy prey
The more you stand out, the more likely you will be spotted as a potential prey. Leave your blings and expensive designer bag at home and favor practical, comfortable clothes when walking around. Also, when I need to check the map for directions, I try to go in a store so as not to attract too much attention. Remember that individuals with ill intent might look for what they will perceive as an easy target, so look confident and blend in the crowd!
Understand your environment
As soon as I get to an unfamiliar destination, I like to sit down and observe the streets to establish what we call a “baseline” which allows me to understand the typical scene in the streets, the sounds, behaviors etc. This practice helps to blend in better and detect “anomalies” or potential threats if any.
Cultural awareness, knowing what is ok and what is not in a specific environment, will also help you get respect from locals and avoid coming across as rude or disrespectful.
Know how to defend yourself
Learning basics of personal safety: how to stay away from danger, to defend yourself when necessary and to get away when possible will not only get you familiar with potential situations you might face but also, will make you more confident and therefore less of a potential prey.
Effective self-defense shouldn’t be complicated and builds on your natural reflexes. But some key concepts are important to know; especially if you travel with your family where running away might not be an option. Remember though that the #1 tip in a dangerous situation is always to try to get away from danger, even if it means parting with some personal belongings.
Tool for personal safety
One of the tools we use for personal safety is a tactical flashlight. It is a practical, compact tool that can be carried everywhere, will help you check your surroundings, blind your opponent and attract attention if you need help or failing everything else, that will be incredibly painful when used properly as a weapon.
Author: Originally from France and now based in Singapore, Ben Boeglin has dedicated the last 12 years to sharing the benefits of being trained in personal safety with individuals and organizations around the world. For more tips on staying safe, check out the R.E.D. Program website.