When you travel to countries in Latin America, Africa or Asia, you often end up in countries where there is a lot of poverty. Most likely, in your country you can usually walk the streets in the evening without any problems, this is different in some countries. Below are some tips to travel safely, based on our travel experiences. Some advice sounds simple and obvious, but it’s certainly good to keep in mind. We will give an example of the situation for each advice.
Always listen to the locals.
This is by far the most important tip. The local population has the knowledge and experience of the area. In Peru we were in Lima and wanted to walk to the center. We ran frantically along the shoreline until a woman ran out of her house in a panic. It turned out that we were about to enter one of the most dangerous areas of Lima. We were grateful to the woman and made right turns. Of course it is coffee grounds to see what would have happened if we had not listened to the woman, but we have never had a reason not to listen to the locals.
Don’t go “for sale” with expensive things.
Of course, feel free to take a picture of a tourist hotspot. Or have you gone into nature to a beautiful waterfall, feel free to take a picture. The point of this advice is: don’t flaunt expensive stuff in areas where there is a lot of poverty; you are more likely to be a target. We lived for a while in Honduras, a country where there is a lot of poverty. In the center of Tegucigalpa we often drank coffee in the square. It could then happen that, if we had a phone in our hands, an agent would come to us to warn us about the people who were watching us with extreme interest. We would have aroused the interest of the wrong people and were advised to put the phone away.
Going out in the evening? Then go ‘robbery-proof’.
Good. We have also become wise through trial and error. We went for a bite to eat in Bogotá, Colombia that evening. For the way back we only had to walk 3 blocks, which would take about 5 minutes. Suddenly a man with a serrated knife stood next to us, demanding money and otherwise would stab. We gave money and walked on. We lost about €50 with this, a lot of money by Colombian standards. Although the man only demanded money, we couldn’t have lost much more. We had already left our phones in the hotel to prevent them from being stolen. So the advice is simple: Going out in the evening? Then only take what you really need and what could possibly be stolen. Are you traveling as a couple? Then leave at least 1 telephone in the hotel or your cottage. Then you always have a backup in case you are attacked. I’m not going to make it more beautiful than it is: it can simply happen.
Never give money to people.
From the slums in India to begging children in Mexico. The image of people in poverty is never easy. You want to help and at the same time you realize that you cannot solve all the misery in the world. This thought will be familiar to many travelers. A reflex is to then give money. Noble, but it does make you a target for evil people. They see that you have money with you and so you increase the chance of a robbery. Would you like to help? Very good, but then buy, for example, bottles of water that you can hand out. In many countries there is hardly any access to clean drinking water for many people.
Don’t trust it? Grab a cab.
An example from Cartegena, Colombia. The hotel where we stayed was located near El Castillo and in the evening we had stayed in the old town. When we walked back to our hotel we were warned by people not to cross the bridge we had to cross. There were people walking around with knives, busy attacking random passers-by. Although we still had to walk about 500 meters, we ordered a taxi. A relatively expensive ride, but we arrived at our hotel without any problems.
Keep valuables close at hand.
If you travel through your holiday country by shuttle or bus, your backpack can end up on top, at the back or at the bottom of the means of transport. For the most part, the carriers take good care of your belongings, but you do not have complete control yourself. So make sure you keep important items such as your passport, wallet and telephone in your daypack. In the unlikely event that something happens to your luggage, you can at least continue.
Use your common sense.
Yes, of course. Common sense helps you in many situations. Just a few one-liners, but they certainly apply: If it looks too good to be true, it often is. And: The sun rises for nothing. You pay for the rest. Okay, I think you get the point.
Do you have any advice yourself to travel safely or do you have an opinion about certain advice? Feel free to let us know in the comments.