"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
March 5th, 2014
News of increased violence towards female travelers doesn’t mean the world is more dangerous now; it is because more victims are reporting crimes to the authorities. I hate to hear about bad things happening to anyone on their travels, because I think about all of the hoping, planning, and money it takes to make vacations possible. One of my last international trips was to India, which is where my parents emigrated from; the recent reports of horrific crimes committed there towards foreigners make me not want to go back anytime soon. That is a problem, since I have family and friends in the country, and would love to ride a camel in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, trek through the Himalayas, visit the beaches in Goa, and so much more.
India is definitely not alone in this rise of violence towards foreigners; Mexico, some South and Central American countries,and a few popular Caribbean islands are among a number of nations that have endured the undesired international spotlight due to high profile violent crimes committed on their soil. In an article titled 25 Most Violent Places In the World, some cities in the USA are listed among the most dangerous, which I find surprising. I also know that some of my foreign relatives think that most Americans are used to violence in their daily lives.
What does that mean for us who love travel? I for one do not want to let fear prohibit me from travelling. I have come up with a list of some common sense tips, inspired by research and my own input. Regardless of age and gender, we all have to be careful out there, wherever we go. These simple guidelines are those I have and will continue to follow in the future; they can definitely work for you too.
– When in doubt about your destination’s safety, do your research. Even some of the most popular travel locales have gone through ups and downs in crimes of all sorts, such as Egypt, Thailand, and the Philippines. A great resource all travelers should use is the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which is constantly updated with reports of all major civil or governmental unrest. You can also type in the name of the country you want to learn more about in the “Learn About Your Destination” search engine on the same page; you will get the most up-to-date information on the latest safety and security threats affecting travelers to certain areas, if any. You can also register for updates to be sent to your email address. There are also countless online and print travel guides that provide good information on general and specific dangers facing travelers, depending on when and where they go. My favorites are Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Let’s Go, and Frommer’s.
– The buddy system works; don’t knock it! I love exploring places on my own or with one or two people, but there are places I will definitely go to as part of a larger group, if I can. Wandering off in an unknown place is not advisable. Bring a cell phone with you, and use it discreetly to connect with those you might get separated from; you can rent phones or unlock your phone and bring it with you when travelling internationally. If you are staying at a good hotel and trust the staff, stay connected to them just in case any emergencies arise.
– Travel safety gadgets will give you some peace of mind. There so many items out there, so it is completely up to the consumer; when it comes to preventing serious crimes in dubious locations, you might want to consider a door jammer for your hotel/motel door, and other portable alarms you can carry with you on the road. Corporate Travel Safety‘s website sells a Motion Sensor Alarm & Personal Alarm, which includes an ear-splitting, 100 decibel alarm and a motion detector you can carry with you at all times. I definitely think its worth the investment.
– Avoid large, chaotic crowds, whenever possible. You can lose your way and/or your fellow travelling companions, as well as your wallets, purses, and bags. Unruly groups of people can also gang up on solo travelers, if they can isolate them from others. If you are to go to a public area to shop or view an outdoor event, I suggest finding out from your hotel, tourist office, and/or locals when and where to go, when to leave. Getting advice from well-informed, knowledgeable locals will definitely help us avoid threats to our personal safety.
– When in doubt, don’t go out! If you are warned to avoid outdoor excursions at certain times of the day or night, or your instincts tell you to stay away, please listen. If you need to shorten your vacation to preserve personal safety, then do so; prior to travelling, it would be good to check travel insurance policies that may help make the procedure easier, if there is a possibility of early cancellation. Let your family and friends know your travel details, and when travelling abroad, make sure you keep your country’s consulate/embassy contact information handy.
With some planning ahead of time, we can reduce the probability of becoming victims of crime during our vacations. Stay safe everyone!