Crime is a reality of life even on your trip abroad. Many travelers who are caught up in the moment of an overseas adventure or vacation, let down their guard. Savvy travelers know that, from the moment the plane touches down, they need to be more vigilant about their personal safety and belongings. You may be far away from your familiar safety zone. You need to have both eyes open.
It’s easy for natives to spot tourists as they wander through foreign cities with shopping bags and cameras dangling from their wrists. Tourists are a high value targets for those who ‘earn a living’ off them. Pickpockets and travel scammers spend their time trying to separate travelers from their cash & merchandise. Travelers must be alert and cautious. Don’t give up any personal ‘souvenirs’ to local pickpockets.
Here are some travel safety tips. Some seem obvious, but travelers often forget to pack common sense.
• Avoid wandering through unfamiliar territory alone.
• Never accept an invitation from a person you don’t know who offers you hospitality, a personal tour of the area, a drink, etc. Be cautious about communicating personal information to friendly strangers.
• Don’t dress flashy. This is a neon sign that you are a potential victim.
• Travel in legitimate taxis and agree on the fare in advance. If you demonstrate that you are totally clueless about local currency, then look for dollar signs in the cabbie’s eyes.
• Be wary of pre-paying for local events from hawkers on the street, or even standing at the event location. The ‘discount’ may end up being a donation into the scammer’s pocket.
• Are your pocket contents vulnerable? Quick hands in crowded places can find out. Keep your wallet and camera secure. It’s wise not to keep large sums of $$$ in one pocket or in one place.
• Consider travel insurance that covers loss of money and personal property. If you have trip cancellation insurance, does the policy cover wallet and credit card loss?
• Keep a photocopy of important travel documents, credit card numbers and airline ticket information in a safe place.
• Make sure that someone knows your daily itinerary.
• Have a cell phone with you at all times.
• Have phone numbers and contact information for law enforcement and the local U.S. diplomatic offices.
• Stay alert and follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it or don’t go there.