Of course, it is important to enjoy your travels and not to be on guard all the time. But you’re more vulnerable when you’re travelling: You’ve all your important stuff with you, you don’t know the local culture and your way, and you have a lot to watch out for. So to help you stay safe we’ve listed our tips and tricks. Most of the time everything will be fine and you’ll have a great time, learning these tips will improve these odds a bit more.
Valuables and Luggage
1. Keep important stuff on your body
The closer you keep your important stuff, the less likely you are to lose it. So, use a money belt, and/or the inside pocket or your front pockets. Try to avoid pockets in the back of your jeans and don’t use rucksacks for storing important stuff like passports, big amounts of money, your wallet and important cards.
2. Don’t hang your jacket over a chair
As said never use your back pockets to store anything of value, you’re begging people to steal it. Also, be aware when hanging a jacket over the chair you’re sitting on, this then becomes an easy target for people sitting behind you. The same goes for bags and purses of course. Also avoid leaving your phone and/or wallet on the table when you’re enjoying your dinner, lunch or a drink.
3. Money belt – multiple wallets
While not everyone likes to use a money belt, some people find it annoying to wear. I feel that it’s a good way to keep your most important items, passports, one bank card and some reserve cash safe. You shouldn’t use it as your main wallet because that is a hassle and makes everybody aware of its position. You should have two other wallets, one ‘decoy’ with only money for a day and some cards. This one you use most of the time and refill in the morning in the privacy of your room, the other you keep in a safe space.
4. Have some emergency cash with you
Always bring some emergency cash with you so you can pay for some food and a place to sleep in case your cards stop working or are stolen. Depending on where you are and where you are from, either bring your own currency or get the local currency. Currencies like US dollars and euros can be exchanged almost everywhere on the planet.
5. Mark your luggage
Suitcases have a generic look to them. To avoid (un)intentional switching, make your luggage stand out. This also makes it less attractive to thieves.
6. Bring a dry bag
Whether you will be actively searching for water adventures or are just travelling around. Having a dry bag secures your valuables against water damage. Many come with water sealed cases for your phone, so you can also take some pictures of your kayaking adventures.
7. Have both digital and paper copies of important documents
Have copies of important documents, at least your ID, so you can provide some proof when your ID gets stolen and you want to get an emergency passport at the consulate. A copy of your insurance can also come in handy in emergency situations. Other things you could copy are your bank card, credit card and driver’s license, to name a few. You can send a digital copy to a friend or relative, so they have some information about you back home.
8. Use a VPN
Although a VPN doesn’t provide 100% security, it adds a layer of security which stops you from being an easy target. So especially if you plan to use open Wi-Fi, use a VPN. It’s also a way to circumvent (social) media censorship in some countries but be aware that using a VPN in those circumstances could be illegal. Check local regulations to know if you can legally use a VPN and then decide whether to use it anyways.
9. Get the rear-facing seat and wear a seatbelt
Sitting backwards is always safer than sitting forward, e.g. in trains and buses. When the train or bus hits something, you will be pressed against the backrest, instead of flying forward. Also, always wear a seatbelt when they provide one. We don’t understand why so many people don’t use their seatbelt on a bus while they ordinarily would in a car. After we’ve been shown some graphic advisory movies on the bus in China, we always use ours. Also, don’t let taxi drivers dissuade you of using seatbelts acting like it’s an insult to their driving ability. These drivers usually see themselves as Formula One drivers.
10. Don’t relax when you’re using public transport
Always watch your friends, and their belongings, when you use public transport. Although it might seem like the perfect moment to sit back and relax, tourists in these places are the easy picks for thieves. This is especially the case when your mode of transports has a lot of short stops. This is ideal for thieves to hop and hop off with your stuff without you noticing it’s gone before it’s too late.
11. Give family/friends your itinerary
Provide friends and family with at least a rough itinerary and keep them updated where you are going. Especially let people know if you plan to go on a solo hike into unpopulated areas. This way people have an idea of where to look for you if you disappear.
12. Learn a phrase to pretend that your local
Sentences like “I live in Moscow” (Я живу в Москве) or “I live in Bali” (Saya tinggal di Bali) or the local equivalent for where you are at the time can help you stay clear of scammers looking for easy prey. It can also help you negotiate a less touristy fare price for taxis.
13. Have a first aid kit with you
Always have a small first aid kit with you. The exact content depends on where you’re going, but bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, pain relief, antibacterial stuff, Imodium tablets
14. Follow your instinct
Sometimes you have the feeling things are not right. Listen to your instinct and stop doing what you’re doing. Even if you don’t have a rational explanation for it. Sometimes your body knows things better than your mind. It’s the trick to listen to those feelings and do something with it.
15. Keep Calm
If things go wrong, try to keep calm. Maybe things turn out better than you expect. It also helps you to react wisely and avoid bigger drama.