Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Before we go any further, there are three things I want you to take to heart:

First, only a small handful of people experience personal danger while traveling! Of course, you hear about every single one of them in the news, so it seems like everybody has been victimized! That is just not true.

Second, almost nothing violent is more likely to happen to you abroad than could happen to you at home in the USA. If you don’t believe me, go turn on the local evening news or look at the police blotter in your hometown newspaper.

Lastly, much of what is really dangerous cannot really be avoided regardless of where you are. Earthquakes are dangerous, bombs on street corners are dangerous, hidden snipers looking for random victims are dangerous, violent people high on hard drugs are dangerous—and there is very little you can do to protect yourself against random danger.  By the way, all of the above are events that have happened in the U.S. in 2010, not in some foreign capital. See Point #2 above!

Having set the parameters for our conversation now, let’s look at the things we can do to travel more safely—wherever we are going!

The most common crime that travelers experience is petty theft, so what can you do to protect yourself from petty thieves?

  • Don’t bring anything, don’t wear anything that you can’t afford to lose! And I do mean anything. Let’s assume that you know better than to wear big diamonds or expensive watches, but don’t forget your camera, or your laptop, or your locket that your grandmother gave you, or your new Kindle. Many things you might regret losing, or it might be an inconvenience to lose, but the less you have that is truly valuable to you, the less you have that is valuable to a petty thief.
  • If you must bring something that is valuable to anyone else, keep it out of sight as much as possible. Your new Ipad may not have anything on it and be insured, so you are not worried about the possibility of it being stolen, but just carrying it on the shopping streets or using it in a café or while on public transportation could be more temptation than a watchful thief could stand.  Same for any kind of jewelry. Same for expensive clothes. Same for your passport!
  • There is absolutely no totally secure place to hide your valuables. I know of LST workers who have had money stolen from the bedroom of the home of their host by adult children of the host. I know people who have had the pouches cut that hang from their necks but under their shirt while they were asleep on trains. Backpacks and fanny packs are about the worst places to carry anything of any value; they are easily slit without your ever being aware. Checked luggage is easily opened and searched for goodies (This just happened at a US airport!). If I have a large amount of money or electronics, I will use either the hotel safe or the hotel room safe to store them for the duration of my stay—and even then I’m not 100% confident that it will be there when I get back.
  • Carry on your person only what you must have for that day. The last thing you ever want to do is to pull out a wallet full of your travel money in front of anyone!  This means you have to anticipate what you might spend and only carry that much with you or just a little more. (This is also a good budgeting technique!) Only carry your one emergency credit card—and have the emergency number somewhere else so that you can call immediately if it is stolen.
  • The safest place to carry extra cash, extra credit cards, and your passport is a safety pouch that you wear as a belt under your clothes. Now don’t do this going through security at the airport or you will have to virtually undress. Don’t carry ALL your money there or you’ll have to reveal all just to buy a coke!  Anticipate!! 
  • If someone attempts to rob you, resistance is almost always futile–and often dangerous. Imagine the danger of grabbing them or chasing them or beating them with your umbrella!! Besides, half the time the criminals are little kids or old ladies—and they always work in groups! It is almost never just one person you would have to go up against.  Resisting increases the chances that you might get hurt.
  • Know where the thieves like to hang out and look for victims. If you are staying at a tourist hotel, you can count on there being thieves in the vicinity, also, outside all those places where tourists go, on public transportation that goes to where tourists go, near train stations, and for you missionary types, anywhere that is identified as a place where Americans show up—like churches—is watched for an opportunity!   Now I didn’t say to avoid those places; rather, just be more aware and take less stuff there!

Sherrylee and I have traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles to many parts of the globe for over forty years and we have never experienced any physical danger from assailants, and we have lost almost nothing to petty thieves—not because we are such vigilant travelers, but just by God’s grace!  It can happen to anyone, any place, any time even those who make the best preparations.  Naiveté, ignorance, or stupidity, however, will not contribute to your safety, so perhaps these pointers will be of help as you travel.

    What else do you do to avoid petty theft when you travel?

    Next: More Traveling Safety Tips

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