The world is not a dangerous place, but in some places there are desperate people who will take advantage of a situation if it is presented to them on a plate, so your best defence is to exercise a bit of sensibility. You wouldn’t carry huge amounts of cash in your pocket or stumble around a strange city drunk in your home country, so why would you do it abroad?
In most cases, a little common sense will go a long way towards protecting you whilst on your travels, but here are a few tips to start you off:
Spread your financial risk: Don’t keep all your cards in your wallet, and try not to take all your spending money in the same form. Keep a card in your hotel safe, or if you’re backpacking at least hide one source of funding at the bottom of your rucksack. Take a mix of cash, cards and travellers cheques to avoid losing everything if you
do have a problem.
Copy your documents: Take digital images of your passport, travel insurance and other important documents and keep them in cloud storage so that they can be retrieved from an internet café if, for some reason, you lose everything.
Get vaccinated: Without a doubt, you should see your local doctor or nurse in plenty of time before leaving to get up to date on all the vaccinations you need for your trip. Get some advice on health precautions you should be aware of too.
Don’t advertise wealth: In many countries, if you have a white face they will instantly assume you are rich. Don’t add to this presumption by displaying high value gadgets, jewellery or other valuables about your person, as it’s just inviting trouble for you.
Be (politely) rude: In many countries across the world, you will find the local touts are very good at extracting money from naive tourists. As much as it goes against your natural manners, you should try to ignore the street sellers, not even pausing to say ‘no thank you’, as this will only fuel their enthusiasm to get you to buy.
Get insured: Wherever you are going, make sure your travel insurance is up to date and adequate for what you will be doing. Some insurance policies will not cover you for things like skiing, scuba diving or other sporting accidents, so be honest with your insurer about your plans and make sure you’re covered. Companies like Columbus Direct are able to offer comprehensive policies to cover you in all manner of situations.
Give it away: If you get mugged, don’t be a hero. Give up your wallet, bag or whatever they are asking for, as you’ll get everything back on your insurance.
Be wary at cyber cafes: Internet cafes abroad may not be as well regulated as they are at home, so try to avoid making purchases using your credit card, or logging into your online banking from here. Keyloggers can sometimes be present that will record your passwords and could potentially give access to your accounts.