Safety and Security

If you look vulnerable, you’ll be vulnerable.

Remember, you are travelling in a foreign country where the culture and customs can be very different to your own country. Check the local customs, dress code, cultural differences etc. before travelling.

Just because something is legal in your country doesn’t mean it’s legal in the country you’re visiting and, conversely, something may be legal in the country you’re visiting but illegal in your country. Always check before you enter the country.

Here are some ideas to help you with safety and security.

General

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
    • If you think you’re going towards an insalubrious area, backtrack.
    • If someone is following you or you think someone is following you go into a hotel, restaurant or somewhere you think they may not follow you.
  • Keep valuables out of sight.
    • Don’t wear expensive jewellery, watches, designer clothes, glasses etc.
    • In hotels, use the hotel safes for valuables. But, remember, some staff can have access to the room safes. It may be better to place the valuables in an envelope and lodge them in the safe in Reception.
  • Money. Never, ever “Flash the cash!”
    • If you carry a handbag, only keep unimportant items in the bag like toiletries and only a small amount of money for snacks, refreshments or souvenirs etc. i.e. things you won’t miss and can easily be replaced.
    • Keep your money, passport, driving licence, ID card, credit/Bank cards etc. on your person when travelling, preferably in different zipped or buttoned pockets. Leave them in the hotel safe when sightseeing unless you need them. Remember, you need to carry ID, like a passport, in most countries
    • You can buy belts with a small, unnoticeable/hidden pockets where you can keep high denomination notes for absolute total emergencies. US dollars are accepted in most countries so are useful to have in this hidden pocket.
    • Use empty containers to store money in e.g. lotion bottles or lip balm containers. Make sure they’re clean.
    • Some countries have limits to the amount of currency you can bring in and take out. So check the amount allowed. Use credit cards and Travellers Cheques for larger expenses where possible.
  • Mobile phones, mp3 players
    • Keep these out of sight, preferably in a closed pocket. In some countries, the latest iPhone/Samsung could net a thief the equivalent of a year’s wages!
    • If you must listen to music, then use earphones and keep the phone/mp3 player safe in a zipped or buttoned pocket. Remember, the use of earphones makes you much more vulnerable – Why are you here? To enjoy the surroundings, so look, listen and smell them!
  • Documents
    • Before leaving home, make 2 copies of all your documents. Passports, visas, insurances, travel documents, reservations, health documents, credit and bank cards, etc.
      • Keep a copy securely in your house.
      • Give a copy, in a sealed envelope, to a family member who isn’t coming with you – parents, relatives etc.
    • Scan all your documents onto your computer. Put them into a password protected zip file (using a password all adult family members travelling with you know) and store the zip file on your DropBox, OneDrive or other Cloud account or email it to yourself.

 

Transport

  • Taxis.
    • Always make sure the driver puts the meter on as the journey is then logged. If he won’t, get out immediately or as soon as you can.
    • Depending on the country, city, area, randomly hailed taxis (and those at airports, stations etc.) are not always very safe for single people. This can include taxis in very well known countries and cities.
    • If you need to take a taxi, get the hotel to book one for you as they’ll usually use a reputable company.
  • Public Transport
    • Always be aware of those around you.
    • Keep pockets and bags zipped or buttoned up at all times.
    • Shuttle Bus/Navette
      • This is usually the safest way to get to and from the airport, port or station to your hotel or lodgings. If there is one available either to your hotel or to a hotel nearby, try to use it.
    • Buses
      • Check out the route before you take the bus and know the times, bus stop location and which number bus you need to return.
      • It may be better to wait in a cafe, in sight of the bus stop, for the bus and go to the bus stop when you see the bus approaching.
    • Metro, Underground, Subway etc.
      • Check out the route and know the last train times to return.
  • Cars and driving
    • Be aware you may be driving on “the wrong side of the road.”
    • Check the “Highway Code” for the country you are visiting as the rules may be very different from your country. For example, “Priority to the Right” even on trunk roads is the rule in some countries!
    • If the rental car comes with the option of a video camera system, take that option.
    • Keep all valuables out of sight. Lock them in the boot.
    • Don’t leave the car registration details in the glove box or under the sun-visor.
    • Close the windows, sunroof, soft-top and lock the doors and check they are locked when leaving the car.
    • Park in a secure car park or, if unavailable, a busy place where it is more difficult for thieves to work uninterrupted.
    • In hot countries or weather:
      • park in the shade, if possible – remember, the sun moves and the shade moves with it.
      • keep some towels in the boot to put on the seats, especially leather seats, to stop you from burning yourself if the car has been in the sun.
      • Never leave children or animals in the car. Even for a short period.
    • In an accident:
      • Safety is paramount. If you are capable and if possible, make sure you aren’t going to cause or be in another accident.
      • Start taking photos immediately or as soon as it is safe to do so. Photograph everything – the road, road signs, the damage, pre-existing damage, registration plates, the vehicles involved, including the documents, the driver(s) and occupants of the other vehicles.
      • Complete a Vehicle Accident Reporting Form.
      • Get the names and addresses of everyone involved, including any witnesses.

 

Hotel Room

  • Valuables
    • Put your valuables and documents in the room safe or hotel safe. Don’t leave them on the dresser or tables.
    • Don’t “hide” your valuables in your underwear or sock drawer. It’s the first place thieves look.
    • Put your handbag in a wardrobe or drawer while in the room. Don’t leave it in plain sight.
  • Room door
    • Lock the door and keep it locked and, if fitted, bolted.
    • If you’re a little worried by the area use an alarm on the windows and door.
    • If someone knocks on the door verify who they are before opening the door. Use the peep hole if one is fitted.
    • Put the chain on, if one is fitted, before opening the door in response to a caller.
    • Always stand a little way back from the door when opening it so you won’t get knocked over if it flies open.
  • Windows
    • Close and lock the windows when you’re not in the room, even if fitted with window bars, as it stops animals and insects entering as well as miscreants.
    • If insect screens are fitted to the windows, don’t open them. They are there for a reason.
  • Bed
    • Check the bedding and mattress for cleanliness and the tell-tale signs of bedbugs (tiny spots of blood). If present, demand another room.
    • In tropical countries, check under the bed and furniture for animals and insects every time you enter the room.

 

 

This page is “work in progress” and will be constantly updated.