How To Stay Safe Abroad

While some of the following suggestions might seem common sense, people who have grown up in safer parts of the world are often blissfully unaware of the dangers that surround them in unfamiliar countries. All manner of ills can befall the unwary traveller, from theft to mugging to being swindled by local vendors or tour guides. While you can’t prepare for everything, there’s a lot you can be aware of that will keep your travel experience safe and enjoyable.

A lot of one’s safety relies on pre-planning your trip, but many travellers, me included, don’t like having too strict a schedule. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re in a foreign city.

Don’t Flaunt Your Possessions

This is for two main reasons: firstly, opportunists won’t see you have the latest iPhone in your hand ready for the taking; secondly, you won’t be distracted by your phone, music, or wallet. Rather, keep your head up and your wits around you. Be sure to look like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t.

If you need to check your map, check out online bingo sites in NZ, or answer a call, rather pop into a coffee shop, and do what needs to be done in a safe, indoor space.

Learn Some Basic Phrases in The Local Language

This is especially important for directions, numbers, and greetings! If you greet someone in their home language, they’ll be far more likely to help you rather than feel like you’re just going to waste their time with gesticulating and incomprehensible conversation. Duolingo works excellently for this purpose!

In the west there’s a popular myth that goes something along the lines of “The locals in [insert place] are all so friendly and helpful.”

While most people will help you where they can, everyone has a job and a life and needs to get somewhere. By learning some key phrases you’re showing that you’re willing to put in some effort. The rewards of doing so will be noticeable, especially when you need help with something.

Make Sure The Price Is Right

The most common negative experience you can have abroad is getting scammed. This is easy to fall for as you don’t want to offend anyone by refusing to pay the amount they’re asking for. Do some research before you go to determine how much basic tourist items and services cost. Here are some examples:

  • How much is a taxi fare?
  • How much do tour guides charge?
  • What are basic grocery prices?

Lastly, make sure to keep the exchange rate in mind before agreeing to pay for anything. By knowing basic costs and the exchange rate you can tell whether you’re paying the correct amount. Anything a lot more or a lot less expensive should raise a red flag.

With all of that in mind, you should be able to navigate your way safely through most popular tourist environments as well as explore a little beyond the usual (and possibly overcrowded locations). Be confident in asserting your boundaries when refusing an offer but be open to new experiences as well.

Good luck and travel safely!