“You traveling to South America? Is it safe? Are you sure you can travel on your own there? Do you have travel insurance? Hope you are carrying some extra money which is hidden away?”
And it continued on and on.These and many more such suggestions, pieces of advice and concerns came my way when I told my friends and family about my plans to travel to Ecuador and then further around to explore as much of S.America as I could.
Well, agreed that this part of the world is considered unsafe in terms of the number of robberies that happen. But then, so is the country I was born in. In fact I believe, a wrong can happen anywhere and at anytime and so you CANNOT certify one place to be unsafe and the other as 100% safe.
But as it was engraved in our minds since the time we were infants: It is better to be Safe than to be Sorry, we got no option but to be careful. And thus, I am writing this blog to share some ‘safety’ tips that I tend to follow when I travel. Most of these tips are known to all of us, but in the excitement of venturing out to explore the new place, we sometimes forget. Read along and maybe the same will be useful to you in your next travel plan.
– First and foremost, at the time of packing your things for the trip; always keep some money in the bag that you will be checking in. Not a huge amount, but just sufficient to get you through for some days in case there is an unfortunate mishap with the handbag you would be carrying.
– At the same time, do not put any jewellery or any expensive item in the check in bag. Always carry it with you wherever you go.(Even to the bathroom). The reason being that you can always keep an eye on it and thus be assured that they are safe. With a check in baggage you can never be fully assured that nothing will get stolen and even if it does, you have no one to blame or pinpoint at. I say this because of the many examples of my friends who have retrieved their luggage from the baggage belt at the airport, in half opened conditions and were helpless after that.
– Next, once at the airport of the new place do not hand over the luggage trolley to any porter and directly walk straight to the registered, prepaid cab counter. This will ensure the safety of your travel to your hotel, since the cab details are stored against your name in the records of the taxi company, hence making it easier to track the cab in case anything goes wrong.
– When in the cab, do not divulge all your travel plans to the driver, because you just never know the intentions of the listener. This in no way means you have to be rude and ignore him, because the reality is, that the drivers will be the best people to know the best tourist attractions in town. So, take the information instead of giving out any.
– Once at the hotel, ask for a safe in the room and then double check on the level of security of that safe. Some safes only need the room key to be swiped across for it to open. This in no way is adequate and any one from the hotel can access your valuables. Instead the safe should allow you to set your own lock code which ensures that it can be accessed by only you and no one else.
– Always leave your passport back in the hotel and do not carry it with you in the purse. After all your return to your own country solely depends on it. Money can be replaced if lost, but the loss of a passport will cause you lots of trouble. Also leave the major chunk of your money back in the hotel safe.
– When traveling within the city, call for cabs using the mobile apps like EasyTaxi, UberTaxi, GrabTaxi etc. My personal favorite are the cabs. Not only are they efficient but also the cars are usually in mint conditions and are a joy to be traveling in. You also do not need to be worried about carrying cash when in these cabs, since the fare amount is automatically deducted from your registered card.
– In some situations where a metro or a bus suits you better, take extra precaution of holding your bag/purse close to you. Chances of being attempted to be robbed are less for the ones who look more alert and on their toes. And so, Keep your eyes open, my friend. At all times.
– When in restaurants or any other shop, preferably use cash to pay. Avoid paying by credit card as the card frauds are very high especially in countries like Asia, Mexico,parts of USA etc.
– Another precaution to take is, NEVER give an unknown person your camera to click your photograph. It is difficult to believe yet it is true that there have been many cases in Guayaquil(the city where I reside),where a couple(foreigners) request a person to take their photo; and while the couple is busy deciding what pose to get clicked in, the man with the camera has started running the opposite direction and would be half way across town by the time the couple realize what just happened to them.(It’s actually quite funny when you imagine the scene 😉 ).
– If you find yourself in an unknown or a slightly deserted neighborhood, which is making you even a slightest bit uncomfortable then there is only one thing to do- GET OUT of that place. The natural instinct should generally not be ignored as in most cases it turns out to be true.
– Avoid asking random people walking on the street for directions, and instead walk up to the closest policeman or maybe into a decent looking cafe and ask the owner instead. This way, you would be avoiding the chances of being followed or stalked, thus freaking yourself out.
– If in a bar having a drink, the obvious thing to do- Never accept drinks from strangers unless the drink has been prepared right in front of your eyes right from the scratch. When I was in Acapulco I was strictly advised not to go to the clubs as mixing drugs in cocktails was common and thus very very dangerous.
– Which leads me to my next point, it might be a bit tedious but ALWAYS research a lot on the city you are visiting for the Do’s and the Don’ts because usually all the streets to avoid, all clubs with a bad reputation etc are listed down in these reviews.
– Lastly, avoid walking or traveling back alone to your hotel when it is too late in the night. You never know what could go wrong in a new city. Instead, if in a mood of a little outing or for few late drinks, choose a bar close to your hotel. After all, it is a holiday and you cannot be in bed by 10 pm ;).
All in all, while you have to be careful, let all the rules and restrictions NOT dampen your holiday spirit. Do go out and explore new places, Do go and meet new people, Do venture out and experience new things. But just be a little cautious and as I said before – Keep your eyes open at all times.
Have a great trip. Do share with us if you have any more steps we can ensure to make our experiences smooth and pleasant and SAFE.