How to stay safe when going abroad

 

1. Keep the most important information always on hand

You should always keep the address of your accommodation and the most important numbers on you. In the case of an emergency, it is also handy to have them written down not only in your native language but also in the language of the country you are in. Especially in Asia, cab drivers often cannot read the Latin alphabet so it is easier to have a translation on hand. Also, try to have them ready on your phone and in a handwritten version. Remember, phone batteries may die.    

2. Try to blend in

Obviously, it is not always possible to blend in completely, but at least try to hide that you are a clueless tourist, as they are often targeted by thieves. Just try to look like you know what you are doing. Also, try to choose your outfit according to the customs.

3. Get a sturdy bag

Best would be a backpack that you carry facing front. Especially in places that are well known for pickpocketing, this is the best way to avoid being targeted. If you don´t want to do that, think about getting a fanny pack that fits all of your valuables. You could hide this easily under a baggy shirt. When looking for the perfect bag for your upcoming trip, try to find something with straps that can´t be broken easily. Also, don´t get something that can be easily grabbed, and abstain from carrying your wallet in the front or back pocket of your trousers. Further, keep a copy of your travel documents somewhere save, in case you get mugged.  

4. Plan your evenings out

This is highly dependent on where you are going, but as a rule of the thumb try to never be alone on the bus, tram or tube. You are always safer in a group. Plan your journey and make sure there is always a connection. So don´t only look for the fastest way to get to your destination, but also look for the safest. It could be quicker to change at that dodgy station, where you´ll have to wait for at least 5 minutes for the next bus, but safer to choose the bus that takes you longer but you don´t have to change. Also never take cabs that are not registered. And if you are still not sure if the cab actually takes you to the right destination, follow it on maps.me. This app allows you to download the map of the city you are in so that you can also access it when you are offline.  

5. Trust your gut

If you feel like something is off, leave. Keep your friends and family posted about what you are up to at all times. Try to find some like-minded people you can spend your time with, it´s always safer in a group than alone. Traveling is different for each and every one. Especially if you are a relatively petite woman, you are perceived differently than for example a 6’7’’ man. So be observant at all times and take care. It´s better to stay safe than being sorry later.

Important emergency numbers:

1. The emergency number of the country you are traveling to:

    • UK: 999 or 55 if the situation is too dangerous for you to make any noise
    • Europe: 112 works with most European countries
    • USA & Canada: 911
    • Australia: 000
    • Brazil: 190 for police, 192 for ambulances, and 193 for fire
    • China: 110 for police, 120 for ambulances, and 119 for fire
    • India: 112
    • for a complete list, click here
2. Any important contact numbers
    • your parents (put ICE – in case of emergency – behind their name in your phone)
    • your accommodation
    • emergency contact of a person from the country you are in
    • details of your health insurance
3. Your embassy Embassies offer the possibility to help travelers to contact friends and family back home in case of an emergency. Also in the unlikely event of an emergency warning, an embassy can offer aid if necessary.   Written by Vivienne Berg