First of all, you should do research on the State Department website (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/) to be sure the country you're traveling to is a relatively safe location. While no country is 100% safe, some are much more dangerous than others, so do your research before you make plans. That being said, no matter where you go, being a tourist makes you more vulnerable to crime, but if you use common sense, trust your gut, and practice these tips, chances are you will have a safe and fun trip.
DON'T STAND OUT
Don't do this overseasGiphy
Do not make it obvious you are a tourist or otherwise draw attention to yourself. Tourists are often the targets of crime because they are known for carrying large amounts of cash, valuables such as cameras, and are not familiar with the area in which they are exploring. Therefore, it is best that you blend in with local culture. Another country is not the best place to wear a tee shirt endorsing a political candidate, nor is it the place to wear any patriotic outfits. I would recommend looking at the fashion and makeup/hairstyles in a foreign country and trying to adopt it while traveling. Leave the flashy jewelry and the designer handbags, backpacks, or purses at home. Avoid selfie sticks (which are actually illegal in some locations) or walking around with your face in a map.
Going to bars and clubs in other countries can be lots of fun, but unfortunately these locations are usually hot spots for crime. First of all, make sure you yourself, are not committing a crime. Be aware of the legal drinking age in the country in which you are visiting and the alcohol limits. You do not want to get arrested in a foreign country and you do not have the same rights as you do in the US abroad. That being said, being drunk also means you're vulnerable (unfortunately). Sadly, people will take advantage of the fact that your guard is down when you're under the influence. You have a higher chance of being mugged, pickpocketed, or worse, the victim of a violent crime if you are not fully aware and cognizant of what is going on. You always want to have your wits about you and be prepared to act quickly to protect your person and/or property.
Don't flash your cashGiphy
You should carry enough cash on you for what you need (food, staying hydrated, museum passes, etc.), but do not carry excessive amounts. However, you don't want to be short on cash and then have to go to an ATM either. ATMs tell everyone that you're withdrawing cash and you don't want people to know you're going to have cash on you. Be discrete with your purchases, and if you can, purchase museum passes, metro passes, bus/train tickets, and anything else you can in advance either from home or at your hotel.
Keep Your Belongings CloseGiphy
Keep anything important close to your body. Cross body bags or straps that go over your neck, like lanyards are recommended. If you can, stuff your pouch or lanyard down into your shirt or zip your jacket over it. If you know it won't fall out and don't have a strap or lanyard, put in your bra if you wear one. Consider investing in a money belt. Don't leave your purses or bags dangling. If you can't cross it over, hold it close to your body. If it can easily be snatched, secure it. Never leave your luggage unattended, nor should you ask a stranger to watch over your possessions.
Transportation Can Be TrickyGiphy
Don't ever hitchhike. Don't pay a random person for transportation. Be extremely cautious when taking a taxi. Try not to take taxis alone- always bring a buddy, but don't ride with a stranger, either. Be sure that you are taking a taxi from a legitimate, licensed company and be sure to pick your driver. Keep in mind that some people may pose as taxi drivers in order to gain access to potential victims. Trust your instincts and listen to your gut. If something does not feel right, listen- you have instincts for a reason. Do not accept a ride from someone who seems too eager to drive you- they may have ulterior motives other than just your business. It's always a good idea to call and ask for a recommendation for a reputable company from your hotel before you arrive in your location.
Watch it with the Wifi
Watch it- people who commit cybercrimes often take advantage of free and unsecured wifiGiphy
Be careful when you use Wifi. Try and do everything that requires Wifi at your hotel, using their secure connection. Never use hotspots created by other people and be very cautious using Internet cafes. Be sure to have anti-virus software installed. Never enter sensitive passwords on public Wifi or access important sites, such as your online banking or checking your credit card statements. You do not want your accounts to get hacked or have your computer or phone get a virus!
Be Cautious in CrowdsGiphy
Unfortunately, crime can happen in a crowd. It's loud, it's chaotic, and people are constantly bumping into you. Metro/subway stations, bus stations, train stations, and packed street markets are often favorite spots for pickpocketing and mugging. Stay aware of your surroundings. When you're on the subway or metro itself, don't daydream, stare at your phone, or read your map. Avoid any crowds that are not absolutely necessary for you. Stay away from strikes, protests, demonstrations, etc. Look around and observe anyone who may be acting suspiciously. Sadly, crowds may also draw acts of terrorism due to the large number of available targets. If you see something, say something. It really could save you or others' lives. Take note of abandoned bags or packages, anyone behaving suspiciously, or anything else that tells you "something isn't right" and notify the proper authorities.
Be Weary of StrangersGiphy
There are plenty of friendly tourists you'll meet abroad, but be cautious if they're overly friendly. Don't tell strangers you meet which hotel you're staying at, where you're going next, or anything that you wouldn't want every person on the street to know. Don't be too trusting of people, even if they seem nice. They could be totally harmless, but it is always best to be careful around people you do not know well.
Lock It UpGiphy
When you are leaving your hotel room for the day, ask yourself "what do I absolutely need?" You probably only need something to drink, a snack, cash for a meal, a small first aid kit, any passes or tickets, and something to take pictures with if you want. Leave your credit card, passport, and any other important documents stowed away in your hotel room safe. Know that you each time you go out, there is a chance you could have your possessions stolen, and bear that in mind as you pack for the day.
Traveling alone may sound adventurous, but it is risky. It is better to have a buddy, or better yet, a group of friends/family. Make sure you take someone with you wherever you go and ensure that other people you trust are aware of your whereabouts. You want to make sure that if you don't show up where you're supposed to be, someone can report you missing.
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