Everyone needs a break away from the familiar at times. Booking a getaway is undoubtedly one of the best ways to relax, spend time with loved ones, or simply try something new. While those who travel for business purposes may be engaged in meetings, speaking engagements, conferences and trainings, many of them still find the time to explore their new surroundings and get acquainted with the culture.
Unfortunately, travelers are one of the biggest groups targeted for crimes. Offenders especially prey on people they suspect to be unfamiliar with the area because those are usually the easiest to catch off guard. Many assaults, burglaries, thefts, and even murders are prevalent among tourists each year, and the only way to avoid these crimes is to mentally and physically prepare yourself. Increase your travel safety by learning how to protect yourself against crime before you leave. Here’s some essential tips that’ll put you in charge of your welfare:
- Investigate Your Destination – It’s a good idea to thoroughly research the area that you’re visiting. Find out what the overall crime rate is and the nearest police department to where you’ll be staying. There’s several helpful online resources that can tailor your search for news that specifically address issues in the region that you’ll be traveling to, as well as Crime Blogs that can raise your awareness on what to look for.
- Pack Lightly – Be sure to only take what you need for your trip. Overpacking and carrying to many heavy bags will slow you down and could make you the next victim of an attack or robbery. Packing lightly is less of a burden and allows you to move around freely and prevents you from getting distracted.
- Safeguard Your Property – Before you leave, you should make sure you’ve taken all the safety precautions that protect your residence. Don’t make it look like someone’s left the home. For instance, put lights on a timer (especially the porch light or garage light) and keep the shades and blinds in their regular positions so no one will presume you’ve gone somewhere and try to case out your home. Request for your mail to be forwarded to the local post office and have a neighbor to retrieve it daily. Lock all doors and don’t forget to activate your alarm system as well. Lastly, ask a family member or a close friend to monitor your residence while you’re away. If you’re traveling for a considerably long time, it might be best to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway, parking slot or in front of your home to make it look like someone’s always there. Getting someone to housesit is also the ideal move.
- Consult an Expert – A personal advisor is always a big help. You should get advice from an expert that knows the specifics about the place you’re visiting. This could be a concierge or you could hire a local travel guide to get more information. The more confidence you display about your surroundings, the less likely it is for criminals to strike.
- Don’t Carry Too Much Cash – Most offenders enjoy the thrill of getting easy money. You’re basically asking for an assault incident if you carry or flaunt around dollars. Try not to carry a large amount of cash with you. Instead, bring debit cards or cashier’s checks. If you have to hold onto some cash, be sure it’s always kept out of sight by placing it in a wallet, a hidden compartment in your purse or some other concealed area.
- Keep Your Valuables Within Reach – Always keep your belongings on or near you. Avoid having your items spread out or in different places, as it’s difficult to keep up with what’s yours and criminals are more likely to get away with theft. Most travelers carry a mid-sized purse or duffel bag if they have more than a few things to hold. It’s not the best decision to carry a backpack since it could easily be opened without your knowledge as you’re traveling.
- Get a Safe Deposit Box – Once you check in to a hotel, you should look into making use of their safe deposit box services. Many lodging centers provide in-room safes for guests which protects valuables, such as expensive jewelry, currency, and keys. You can set up a secret code that’ll enable only you to enter the security box and keep potential burglars out.
- Memorize Your Passport Number – If you’re traveling abroad, you should memorize your passport ID number in case it’s lost or stolen. This will decrease the number of issues you have when you try to get it replaced. It’s also good to have some kind of travel insurance with you at all times in the event of theft or a petty crime.
- Be Vigilant in Crowded Settings – Always remain alert and guarded in heavily populated areas, such as subway stations, restaurants, shopping malls, parties and dance clubs. Pickpockets thrive on targeting people in these kinds of settings because there’s too much action going on for anyone to see them make moves. If you’re at a lounge or bar, never leave your drink unattended, as someone could poison or spike it which not only opens doors for physical assaults, but also severe health issues.
- Don’t Wander Alone – Criminals like to single people out for their offenses which is easier to do when they find someone who’s by themselves. You should try to stay in crowds when you’re walking the streets or sightseeing. Even if you’re not with anyone, you can remain near other people so suspicious people won’t know the difference.
- Never Discuss Your Travel Schedule with Strangers – One of the major mistakes that travelers make is conveying their itinerary to people they’ve just met. This is very dangerous because it lets criminals know your whereabouts and they can plot on a good time to strike. Be discreet if asked about your trip or don’t begin a conversation at all.
If you’re interested in knowing more about criminality as you’re deciding on a new career choice, there’s several accredited crime scene investigation schools to check out. Saving other travelers from incurring vicious crimes by preparing them with in-depth knowledge on criminal theories and safeguards could be just as rewarding as following helpful steps yourself.
Citizen Defense Training (2011)
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