Backpacking is a great way to see the world. All you need is a backpack full of essentials, some type of itinerary, and a sense of adventure. Of course, the chance of risk when setting out on an adventure is always there. Over 400,000 pickpocketing incidents occur every day according to Clever Travel Companion. Aside from theft, passports are misplaced, travelers are injured, and those who didn’t do their research sometimes end up lost on the wrong side of town.
So how do you make sure you’re in the clear while backpacking the world? Here are 7 ways to keep you safe.
1. Do Your Research
Before you leave for your trip, do extensive research on your destinations. Familiarize yourself with what neighborhoods to avoid and which ones are the safest. It’s also very helpful to understand the area’s public transportation. Know which stations are closest to where you’re staying, and find out how much it costs to ride.
To make things easier on yourself, even if you’re playing it by ear, you’re going to want to book your first night in advance. After a long day of traveling it will be a relief to have a bed ready for you without any hassle after a long day of travel. .
2. Check In
International phone plans are expensive, so a lot of travelers forgo them. In the day and age of wifi, however, there is no excuse not to check in with friends and family. Always make the effort to let them know where you are and where you’re going. That way, if you end up stuck somewhere with no way to escape (127 Hours, anyone?) you’ll have a better chance of being rescued.
3. Blend In
Nothing says “rob me!” like someone in full tourist mode. Take note of how the locals dress, and work around that. Not only will it help prevent any robberies, but it is also respectful. Some places, take religious temples in Asia for example, have dress codes. As hot as it may be, save the belly shirts, mesh tanks, and short shorts for a less conservative place like Barcelona.
Another good way to blend in is to study the language. Being able to communicate in the native tongue will take you farther than frantically gesturing your hands while trying to find the right words. Start with important key phrases so that even if you’re not fluent, you can at least order food, ask for help, and find the bathroom without too much of a struggle.
4. Stranger Danger
Most people you meet abroad will mean you no harm. Traveling is a great way to make lifelong friends with people around the world. This doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.. Listening to your gut can go farther than you think. If something is telling you someone is off, it’s probably right, even if it’s just what’s right for you. Use discretion when meeting new people, and remember you don’t owe them anything. Keep an eye on your things, and don’t let on to where you are staying or where you store your valuables. If you go anywhere with someone you just met, make sure you check in with someone you trust.
If you’re out at a bar, club or social event, follow the same protocol as you do at home. Never leave your drink alone, and never leave a friend behind. Keep in mind that any incidents that happen under the influence may not be covered by your travel insurance.
5. Separate Your Money
This one is pretty simple. If you keep all your cash in one place and you get robbed, you’re not going to have any more cash. Instead, keep it spread out among your stuff. If you’re going out for the day and leaving your pack in the hostel, only bring enough money for the day. Leave the rest safely hidden in two separate spots and locked away. As stated before, pickpocketing is very common abroad. People who are most targeted are those who are obviously tourists and those who flash their cash. Even if it’s your first time handling foreign currency and it looks like play money to you, wait until you’re somewhere private to take it out and check it out.
6. Have A First Aid Kit
You never know when you’re going to trip and fall and get a cut. Or maybe you forgot to take precautions and became a feast for a horde of mosquitoes. No matter what it is, you’re going to thank yourself if you’re prepared. Make sure you’re stocked on different sized bandaids, Neosporin, anti-itch cream, and the fixings to make a sling. It won’t hurt to carry Tylenol, Benadryl, and if you have one, an epi pen. Minor medical emergencies happen, and you’ll thank yourself when you remember you’re prepared.
7. Carry A Resume
This one may seem a little odd, but stay with us. Especially if you’re doing budget backpacking. If you happen to run out of money, or you’re robbed, you may want to find a job to help finance getting home or to your next destination. Instead of begging on the street, which is offensive and irresponsible, you can look for a job that will help you get back on your feet. A lot of hostels offer jobs to travelers to help finance their travels when they find themselves in a spot.
For a lot of adventurous people, backpacking can seem like the ultimate vacation. It can be, as long as you take precautions and travel smart.