The mas­ter­class

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Stay­ing safe abroad should be sim­ple – read our guide on how to avoid those oh-so-com­mon mis­takes…

the UK to spy­ing Tan­za­nia’s rep­tiles in the wild

En­sur­ing we’re safe while trav­el­ling is some­thing we all think about, no mat­ter the ‘per­ceived risk’ of the coun­try we’re vis­it­ing. How­ever, some­times it can be hard to know what safety mea­sures to take or what to be­lieve from all the cau­tion­ary tales. Read on for our es­sen­tial safety tips...

Be­fore you go

Re­search is the best kind of prepa­ra­tion, no mat­ter where you’re head­ing. “Your first stop should be the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Office (FCO; gov.uk/for­eign-travel-ad­vice),” ad­vises Lloyd Fig­gins, travel risk ex­pert and au­thor of The Travel Sur­vival Guide. “Don’t just rely on one source, though. Mix up your re­search with lo­cal gov­ern­ment web­sites and good old guide­books, too.”

It’s worth think­ing about up­grad­ing your bags if your des­ti­na­tion is known for petty crime. Look for one that of­fers more pro­tec­tion – lots of zips, for ex­am­ple, or slash-proof fab­ric. Don’t go over­board, though; things like mini pad­locks only serve to alert thieves to po­ten­tial valu­ables.

You shouldn’t al­ways fo­cus on ‘hard safety’ ad­vice, though. Also, do­ing your home­work on a lo­cal cul­ture will reap the ben­e­fits.

“Learn about a coun­try’s tra­di­tions and quirks,” ad­vises JC Light­cap, au­thor of The Travel Safety Hand­book. “It’ll help you in­ter­act with lo­cals, but also avoid you get­ting into any un­nec­es­sary trou­ble.”

Don’t for­get the golden rule – al­ways, al­ways take out travel in­sur­ance, even when you don’t think you’ll need it.

What to do on your trav­els

Re­mem­ber to fo­cus on why you’re vis­it­ing in the first place and what you came to see.

“Peo­ple can spend all their time wor­ry­ing about the things that are very un­likely to hap­pen,” says Lloyd. “For ex­am­ple, your

chances of get­ting caught in a ter­ror­ist at­tack are roughly 1 in 20 mil­lion.”

Try and act pre­pared and low key. Noth­ing screams ‘tourist’ more than walk­ing around aim­lessly and dig­ging out a map for di­rec­tions, and it’ll make you a tar­get for scam­mers.

“Be vig­i­lant when you’re in a tourist hon­ey­pot,” con­tin­ues JC. “Look to blend in with lo­cals by act­ing con­fi­dently and keep­ing your valu­ables hid­den from view.”

If you’re ner­vous about your ho­tel room not be­ing se­cure enough, pack a sim­ple door wedge – to use from the in­side – so no one is able to en­ter if you don’t want them to. If trav­el­ling with a com­pan­ion, split your cash be­tween you and di­vide into dif­fer­ent parts of your be­long­ings. That way, in the un­likely event that you’re robbed, you haven’t lost every­thing. Also, if you’re part of a larger group, keep an eye out for each other – safety in num­bers does work.

Be­ing safe also means taking pre­cau­tions when it comes to hy­giene. As Lloyd ad­vises: “Use hand sani­tiser and be con­scious of how your food’s been pre­pared and cooked.”

But what­ever sit­u­a­tion you find your­self in, all ex­perts agree that you should trust your gut in­stinct. If your senses are tin­gling, its time to make an exit from that sit­u­a­tion.

What not to do...

When you’re trav­el­ling, there are things that you can do to avoid un-safe sit­u­a­tions. But while it would be easy to be dis­cour­aged from taking part in any fun-look­ing ac­tiv­ity that in­volves an el­e­ment of risk, that’s not re­ally what trav­el­ling is about. In­stead, take a closer look at the in­sur­ance pol­icy you’ve taken out and see what’s in­cluded – and what isn’t. Take out ad­di­tional in­sur­ance if there’s an ac­tiv­ity you want to do that isn’t cov­ered by your pol­icy. “Spend­ing a lit­tle more money on a good pol­icy will pay div­i­dends if some­thing does go wrong,” says Lloyd. For every ac­tiv­ity you want to do, find rep­utable providers that cover all even­tu­al­i­ties. An­other sur­pris­ing area of risk is so­cial me­dia. While you worry about pick­pock­ets, post­ing your travel snaps on­line just lets thieves back home know your house is empty. Jeal­ousypro­vok­ing pics can be just as eas­ily posted once you’re back.

What if I find trou­ble?

Even when the odds are small, you have to be pre­pared, just in case any­thing goes awry dur­ing a trip. Make sure you carry a good list of suit­able con­tacts with you at all times – things like your in­sur­ance com­pany, bank, a trusted con­tact from home, your credit card com­pany and your em­bassy.

“Make sure you don’t keep this list in some­thing like your bag or a wal­let, which could get stolen,” ex­plains Lloyd. Plug any num­bers you need into your phone as well, so you have two sources of emer­gency con­tacts.

He also rec­om­mends car­ry­ing a dummy wal­let, too, full of small de­nom­i­na­tion notes, an ex­pired credit card and other use­less items. “By the time the crim­i­nals find out they’ve been duped, you should be in a place of safety.”

“Store backup copies of your pass­port some­where safe,” adds JC. “Make sure you have a backup plan for money, too, so you can ac­cess cash quickly in an emer­gency.”

How­ever, while it’s good to pre­pare for any even­tu­al­ity, re­mem­ber that you’ll prob­a­bly never need it. “Most trips take place with­out in­ci­dent, but do­ing the small things can make a big dif­fer­ence,” con­cludes Lloyd. And he’s right – lay the safety building blocks be­fore you go, then you can con­cen­trate on the all-im­por­tant bit: your ad­ven­ture.

‘If you’re ner­vous about your ho­tel room not be­ing se­cure enough, pack a sim­ple door wedge – to use from the in­side – so no one is able to en­ter if you don’t want them to’

Pocket watch! When trav­el­ling in the mar­kets of Mar­rakech – in­fa­mous for pick­pock­ets – it pays to know what pre­cau­tions to take

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