is there any one interseted in writing and can help me? please?
i have to write an essay about how travel safely , can any one help me in writing this essay , i really need your help, i’m not native
,Travel Security — Isn’t it dangerous out there?
Some people are put off from independent travel by the apparent risks. Not only can you get sick, or killed in a bus wreck, but there may be people trying to rob you, cheat you, rape you, drug your drink, or maybe even put a knife in your ribs.
I wish I could tell you that all of this is rubbish. Unfortunately, these things do happen to travelers. What I can tell you, however, is that in most countries I have traveled, I feel as safe or safer than I do at home. You will hear many horror stories on the Road, and some of them really make you want to catch the next flight home. There are tales of travelers contracting incurable diseases you have never even heard of, being thrown in jail after the police planted drugs in their room, being robbed of all they own and left in the wilderness, or being knifed on the street by robbers. One reason I tell you these stories is so you will not panic when you inevitably hear them recited by other travelers. “My God! No one ever told us about that!”
This is a long discussion, during which you will hear about dozens of ways you can lose your belongings to thieves, and a few ways that you may be physically harmed. It can be discouraging just reading about it. Don’t worry, in the process I will tell you exactly what you can do to make the chances of your becoming a victim very small. In many countries the dangers are few and can be avoided with basic precautions.
People often use the word dangerous to describe the danger of theft, not bodily harm; do not confuse theft-prone with physically dangerous. In some of the most dangerous countries and cities in the Third World, there is very little risk of being physically attacked. You can read of innocent people being shot down by mass-murderers in the USA, and terrorist bombings in Europe. Personally, I am far more frightened by these random acts of violence at home than by the methodical workings of criminals in the Third World, who are only after your money. Learn how they work, and you will be safe.
Out on the Road, you enter a new way of life. There are different rules out there, and more precautions to be learned. The local people already know the rules. The sooner you learn them, the more problems you will avoid. When you take precautions, you will be safe. When you feel safe, you can enjoy your trip.
There are still a few isolated communities in the world where the local people are as ignorant as opossums about the dangers of stepping onto a highway. But any Third World child who has survived in a city until the age of seven is better prepared to take care of her/himself than most western travelers. In the Third World, you must watch out for yourself, because no one else will protect you from hazards. It is a world without pedestrian areas, and you must learn to share your space with numerous vehicles — and that means ‘get out of the way or be run down’!
Just being aware of everything around you will save you from several painful encounters with bicycles, pushcarts, motorcycles, and even cars and trucks. It seems that some people are just instinctively aware of everything, while others are naturally oblivious to 80% of their surroundings. In the Third World — where survival of the fittest still applies and pedestrians are at the bottom of the food chain — the oblivious types are eliminated through natural selection before they can reach puberty; while in the First World we have laws to protect the heedless.
I am constantly amazed at how many Westerners (yes, Americans), at home and abroad, wonder around oblivious to the proximity of moving bicycles, autos, and other people. They seem to believe that it was God who passed all those laws to protect them. Regardless of my theories, you can greatly reduce your chances of mishap by training yourself to be aware of everything around you, so that you can anticipate approaching people and vehicles, and get out of their way.
In Third World cities where life is fast, furious, and cheap, even crossing the road is no place for a novice. At a traffic signal with green in your favor, you will still have to pick your spot among speeding cars, and step lively. Just going out to the post office can be a perilous adventure. But you will soon become a crafty veteran, able to take the worst hazards in stride. I sometimes wait for several venerable old ladies, so that I can cross safely, keeping them between me and the traffic. Singapore presents a modern paradox; as soon a you approach a crosswalk, all the cars slam on their breaks and wait for you to cross. If you just arrived from a few months in Southeast Asia, your first instinct is to suspect a diabolical trap to run you down, and you find it almost impossible to step out in front of all those idling cars, with the drivers grinning at you.
Always look both ways before stepping into the street. Don’t rely on your instincts to tell you where the cars will be coming from. You will pass through many countries where traffic runs on the “other” side of the road and the only way to avoid making a costly mistake is to always look for traffic coming from both directions. There may be a bicycle or motorbike coming the wrong way, in any case.
When someone is about to intersect your course, under whatever mode of transport, your first instinct is to make eye contact and verify that they see you coming. They, on the other hand, will try to ignore you; to acknowledge your presence is to accept some responsibility for what is about to happen. If they don’t see you, it is your fault if you collide! If you look straight at a taxi driver, and then step in front of him, you are fair game; if you pretend to ignore him, he may have to think twice before running you down. I have been told in several countries to walk on the road with my back to the traffic! “If they see you coming, they will try to run you down, but if your back is to them, it is their responsibility to avoid you!” That’s some kind of logic! Yes, I have exaggerated for effect; people are not really out to run you down, but they will expect you to walk very defensively like everyone else, so be on your toes!
Some travelers have things stolen all the time. I do not. Listen to me. I am a bit superstitious and I do not like to tempt my fate by mentioning it, but in my years of traveling in some notoriously dangerous places, I have only had my pocket picked once, and twice had an item of small value taken from my room. That’s all. (Of course, I’ve been cheated dozens of times, but that’s just part of the game.)
I am going to teach you how you can be safe and feel safe on the Road. It requires some preparations, some habits, and some hard attitudes that you may or may not be ready to adopt. Some people hate money belts, some refuse to be rude to anyone, and some just can’t be bothered to be vigilant at all times. Know what the precautions are and make a conscious decision whether or not you want to observe them.
I will give you dozens of rules and precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe, and to avoid hassles. Yes, if you go around thinking about these things all day, you will drive yourself crazy! That’s why you need to learn them, and make them a part of your daily routines, like brushing your teeth before bed, or looking both ways before you cross the street. Your mother taught you those lessons, and you thank her for it. But you long ago stopped worrying about them, because they are now an integral part of your life. Good security habits are followed instinctively, every time, without the need to ask yourself if they are really necessary in each situation.
The good news is that in many countries, and especially outside of cities and tourist areas, you will be at very little risk from many of the dangers I will warn you about. But you should still observe good habits of security and precaution. Even in generally safe areas, normally honest but poor people can be tempted into taking things, especially from your hotel room, if you give them easy opportunities by not observing basic precautions.
First, here are some elementary rules to keep you safe. They make up a good portion of my personal rules to travel by. When you have internalized them, you will notice every time you are about to break one. Then you can make a conscious decision, and accept the consequences if you decide to break it.
Don’t look wealthy; don’t flaunt your valuables.
Keep both hands free.
Keep your money, passport, and credit cards next to your skin. Keep them in front of you. Take them to the shower with you. Sleep on top of them.
Stay in physical contact with your bags unless they are locked in your room or stowed safely (preferably in your view) on transport.
Every time you stand up, look back to see what you have left behind.
Carry your luggage onto the bus, train, truck, or taxi with you.
When you buy a ticket, GET a ticket.
Don’t rent a room that is not secure; lock it every time you leave.
Be aware of everyone around you. Not “beware”, just be aware.
Don’t do anything you think is possibly dangerous, just to avoid being rude.
Most thieves in the Third World are sneak thieves. You will not see them, even after they have stolen your goods. The simplest ones will try to steal from your hotel room when you are not there. The most sophisticated can nick your rucksack right out from under your nose. They are counting on you being off your guard, trusting, acting like you would at home, and being ignorant of the ways in which they work. If you take precautions, they will avoid you; there are plenty of other tourists out there who are much easier to rob than you are!
Because you do not see them, you may assume that thieves are not there. Perhaps when you are at home, you lock your door every night before going to bed. What would happen if, one night, you left the door unlocked? Is there, in fact, someone who comes around every night trying all the doors in the neighborhood? Depending on your neighborhood, probably not. But you really don’t know, do you? And you won’t find out until you leave your door unlocked.
In some countries there are dozens of people waiting around for you to make just such a silly mistake. In other places, you are only tempting the local people into becoming thieves by leaving yourself and your belongings unguarded. But if you travel very long and in very many places, you will meet (or never see at all) just enough people who will take advantage of your lack of precaution to rob you of everything you have.
Don’t Invite Thieves
Don’t show off your wealth. Traveling on the cheap is often your best protection from theft! I have spent over eight months traveling in Mexico and I have never been robbed there. As in all countries, most Mexican people are not thieves. Mostly I have traveled by public transport, stayed in regular lodging, and carried only a small and worn rucksack. Even the thieves are not interested in robbing me. I have stayed in huts with no locks and occasionally left all of my gear in the open, guarded only by my hammock, when that was the local norm. It was a risk, but I got away with it because there were no real thieves in these rural communities.
However, I know exactly what to do if I want to be robbed in Mexico. Instead of traveling by bus with my rucksack, I would bring or rent a nice camping van and camp on isolated beaches which are popular with tourists. If you ask around, travelers will tell you of lovely isolated beaches where you can camp for free. There are some wonderful spots and many of them are pretty safe. But if tourists have been doing this for a long time, the local criminal types may visit these famous spots to hold up campers at gun or machete point. They know that tourists carry valuable cameras, stereos, stoves, and all.
Sleeping in regular lodging places (even beach bungalows) and carrying a small amount of luggage makes you less of a target, and usually no target at all. It’s when you look so different from everybody else — traveling around in your own car, doubtless loaded with lots of expensive goodies, camping out, brandishing video cameras — that you advertise yourself as a target. I feel safe on the bus, surrounded by local people.
Few people who have had the wonderful adventure of backpacking up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru have been neglected by the robbers who regularly hold up tent sites along the trail. That’s the way things are in a few countries, and that’s why I’m surprised to see travelers who have come to South America to go camping in the mountains. They bring a thousand dollars worth of high-tech camping gear only to find that there are few organized places to camp, and that wilderness camping is often an invitation to robbery. This isn’t Kansas anymore; that’s not the way it is done here. They discover that most travelers just take a bus up to the high mountain towns, check into a cheap hotel and hang out for a week or two, taking day hikes into the mountains, and returning to eat in cafes at night. This is not what they had in mind at all.
Note [March, 2000] that with the recent increase in tourism, the Peruvian government has stepped up security along the Inca Trail. You can now arrange for “Sherpas” to carry your gear for you and have your tent camp set up for you each afternoon when you arrive! There is now even a “hostal” at the last stop on the Inca Trail, complete with bunk-beds, toilets, food, and probably a bar.
Unfortunately, this is a good reason not to go too far off of the beaten path in some countries. Away from the town and the hotel, in the anonymity of the woods or hills, people who have very little to lose may be happy to relieve you of your belongings. Seldom is any violence actually done, but it is not a nice experience. Many countries are completely safe in this regard. Ask other travelers and the local people in your hotel. When they warn you not to go walking in the countryside, there really may be robbers lying in wait for tourists. It is one reason to stay in hotels instead of camping out, in questionable areas.
Protecting Your Belongings
Your belongings are important to you. On the Road you live out of your rucksack; it is your home, it is all you own. Yet people have had their entire rucksacks stolen, and continued with their trip. After the initial shock, they found they could buy whatever necessities they needed, and sometimes even felt some relief to get rid of that heavy pack. People have lost their passports and all their travelers checks, and continued with their trip after the inconveniences of replacing them. It is not the end of the world, or even the end of the trip. But it is not going to happen to you, because you are going to be prepared and know how to protect your belongings.
Also consider that the less you have, and the less you show off to others, the fewer problems you will have with theft. Even backpack travelers may be assumed to carry interesting goods far beyond the economic reach of most local people; but a smart thief will definitely choose targets that appear more lucrative for him. Given a choice, he will go into the rooms of people he has seen carrying big cameras, electronic gear, and expensive camping equipment which he may hope to sell quickly. You can still be robbed, but the chances are only increased when you show off such items of apparent value.
Copies — Just In Case
There is almost no paper — except cash — that cannot be replaced, eventually, if you keep a copy or a record of it. Before you leave home, copy your passport photo page, vaccination certificate, travelers check receipts, air ticket, driver’s license, student card, YHA card, etc. Leave a copy at home and carry a couple of copies in various places in your luggage. Take a copy of your birth certificate to help you get a new passport. Keep a list in your notebook or address book of the numbers of your insurance policies, bank accounts, social security or national identity number, credit card numbers, and the serial number on your camera. Leave your main address book at home and take a smaller one for traveling. As you pick up the addresses of new friends along the way, add them to the end of the letters you send home.
Now, along the way, make copies of any air tickets you buy and write down the ticket numbers. Some people even copy important visas they get. At least write the visa numbers down. Being in a country without a visa can be as much trouble as not having a passport. Your embassy can do nothing about replacing your visas or entry stamps.
If you buy new travelers checks along the way, not only save the receipts (separate from the checks), but keep a separate note of all the check numbers and when you spend them. Having exact information about which checks are lost will greatly help in getting them replaced. You will probably not lose any of these items. But if you do, you will be able to get them replaced with the least amount of trouble.
Keep your money, your passport, credit cards, and other valuable documents next to your skin. Keep them in front of you. Take them to the shower with you. Sleep on top of them.
Keep your money and other paper documents organized in a single plastic folding case similar to what you get with your travelers checks. One with a fold-over flap is better for protecting them. Put this, your passport, credit cards, and any other valuables that will fit (spare key, a few passport photos), into a flat pouch that you can wear next to your skin. I will call this a “money pouch”. Various types of money pouches you might use are discussed below.
I use a money belt because I feel it is safest. This is not a real belt, but a thin pouch that straps around your waist. Wear it inside your trousers or skirt, under your belt, and in the front, not the back. Wearing it on the outside of your clothing may be more comfortable, but it defeats the purpose. The most popular alternative is a “passport bag” that you wear around your neck. They are more obvious and easier to steal. People have had theirs stolen on crowded trains without even being aware of it. If you use one, run a strong length of wire entirely through the neck strap, to prevent it from being cut.
You might consider stashing a small amount of cash and a traveler’s check in one or two extra places, just in case you ever lose your money pouch. For example, in your rucksack with your passport copy, or in a separate, secret pocket or pouch on your body.
Whenever I have to dig into my money pouch in a public place, like a station or airport, I immediately move on to another location instead of staying among the same group of people. Watch to see if anyone follows you. In fact, even if a thief sees that your money is kept next to your skin, he will know that it is too difficult to rob you of.
‘Walking Around’ Money
Keep the amount of money you expect to use during the day in a wallet, money clip, or small purse in a front pocket ? not a back pocket where it can more easily be lifted or slashed free with a razor blade. I sometimes add a snap or velcro closure to this pocket to make it more difficult for pickpockets. When things get really close, lay your hand casually over this pocket if you can. If you wear a skirt without pockets, sew a little pocket inside the waist where you can get at it easily. Do not carry anything else of value — irreplaceable phone numbers, travelers check receipts, or photos of your family — in this money holder. I have only been pick-pocketed once, on a very crowded local bus. It was an infuriating experience, but I only lost a few dollars worth of cash, and the wallet. Keep coins separate, so that you do not have to pull out your wallet on a crowded bus.
A woman’s handbag or shoulder purse is not as safe as a day pack because the strap is easier to break or cut, unless you reinforce it with wire. If you do take a small purse, keep it inside of your day pack so you have only one thing to carry, and don’t leave your passport of travelers checks in it. A waist pack is a good alternative, and even more difficult to steal or lose.
If you misjudge the amount of money you will need for the day, you will have to dig into your money pouch. Do not do so in public places if you can at all avoid it, least of all on a crowded public bus. If there are too many prying eyes, just say you will have to go to the bank or hotel to get more money, and come back later. Then find a more private place.
Day Pack Security?
You will still keep some things in a day pack — but not your really valuables, like passport, money, and (hopefully small) camera. In some countries (the list is growing), bag slashers will come up behind you, slit your day pack (or rear trouser pocket) with a razor blade and follow along behind you, waiting for the goodies to drop out. For this reason, it is a good idea in more theft-prone areas to place a bulky item such as a sweater (jumper) or wind-jacket or (hey! a hotel) towel in the bottom of your day bag first. In really close situations — on a packed bus or marketplace — wear your day pack “backwards”, on your chest!
Protecting Camera Equipment
The main valuable you will not be able to carry in your money pouch is your camera equipment. You should carry it with you at all times. Your hotel room is not a safe place to leave cameras, but you will end up doing this on occasion. When you must, lock the camera equipment inside of your rucksack where it cannot be seen or easily stolen.
If you have much camera equipment, you will need to keep it in a day pack and carry it with you everywhere. (See Day Pack Security, just above). In any questionable situation, wear it in front of you! This includes crowded buses, in queues at the station, or even walking down the street in theft-prone cities.
Unfortunately, when you want to take a photo, you may end up setting the pack on the ground to pull out the camera. Do not leave the bag there while using the camera, put it back on your shoulder. It is much better if you have a day pack which you can swing under your armpit, open, and remove the camera without taking the pack off of your shoulder. Practice this at home, or before buying a new bag for this purpose.
You can buy (at home) waist packs specifically made to carry camera equipment. A bag secured around your waist is less vulnerable to theft (and forgetfulness) than a day pack. Wear it in front of you or on your side where you can rest a hand on it, not in back! You may find this alternative uncomfortable if your equipment is very bulky.
A compact camera is much easier to protect. You can fit it into a trousers pocket if it is all you are carrying. Don’t use shirt pockets unless they can be secured with a button or snap; things are always falling out of shirt pockets. I usually carry my compact camera in my small waist pack, which can also hold film, notebooks, and dozens of other small items. It becomes my valuables bag, leaving my hands free. I never leave it behind because it is secured around my waist. I wear it on the side, with one hand casually resting on it, or it can be shifted easily in front of me in tight situations. Make sure the zipper is closed toward the front side; for this reason a double zipper is preferable.
If your camera has a wrist or neck strap, use it! It not only prevents theft, it will save your camera on the one or two occasions during a trip when you accidentally drop it. You could also be bumped by someone ‘accidentally’, causing you to ‘drop’ your camera right into the hands of his passing accomplice.
Again, if you follow these precautions, no one will even try to steal your gear. If you do not, probably no one will try. But for that one time in a hundred…
Safety While Traveling
(in the Bus, Train, etc.)
Whenever possible, carry all your bags onto the bus, train, etc., with you, instead of having them stored on top or below. You can then enjoy the comfort of constant physical or visual contact with your gear. When people try to load my bag on top of a bus, I resist and take it on with me. Yes, sometimes it does go on top, but not in countries where I might fear for its safety. If I cannot fit the bag under the seat, or in an overhead rack, I set it between my legs. When you put your rucksack in an overhead rack, try to place it a bit ahead of you — even if it is across the aisle — where you can see it constantly.
I follow the same carry-on rule in vans, mini-buses, and taxis, whenever possible and prudent. If your bag goes in the trunk (boot), you should wait outside to see it closed with your bag inside, and keep an eye out when the car stops, especially to let off other riders. Taxi rides are short enough to carry your rucksack on your lap.
If your pack is too big to carry on, you will need to have it stowed. In many places this is not a great danger, but in a few, you may end up getting off at every stop to make sure it is still there. The most common problem is of people riding on top of the bus helping themselves to whatever they can take from unlocked side pockets.
On a train, you may want to get up and walk around. If you are traveling with others, make sure someone is watching the bags. If you are alone, either stay put or use a large padlock to secure your bag to a rack. Even if you just connect a strap around the rack, it will discourage people from snatching the bag away quickly. Yes, in many places you do not have to be this paranoid, but which places? In India, you will find all the local people carrying chains which they use to lock their baggage to permanent fixtures on the train. If you don’t have one, they will look at you like you were very stupid! This is not (usually) necessary in first or air-con class, where the cars are guarded, but in regular second class and below, anyone and everyone is constantly passing through the cars, day and night.
01/2003: If you are interested in “slash-proofing” your luggage, see a new note under Slash-Proof on my “What to Take — Luggage” page.
If you have a train compartment with a door, keep the door locked at night while you sleep. Don’t open it for anyone in the middle of the night, not even the conductor! Tell him to come back in the morning when there will be other people up and around.
It is always safest to travel in the company of other travelers. They can save your seat and watch your bags while you get off to buy some food or go to the toilet. If you are alone, make friends with other travelers on the same bus or train and sit by them. There have been a few cases when I rode alone on notorious rip-off train routes; I drank coffee or took caffeine tablets to keep from falling asleep. This is not a pleasant situation, but there are a few of them around.
If you are standing on a crowded bus or train, keep your valuables in front of you, not behind your back. Don’t leave them on the bus when you get off for a rest stop; leave something like a bandanna or book on your seat to save it. As in any similar situation, train yourself to always look back to your seat as you are getting off at the end of your journey; it is easy to leave things behind.
Remember that railway stations, and to some extent bus stations, are notoriously good places to have things stolen. Don’t ever leave your bags unattended, keep them in front of you while waiting in lines, beware of bogus “porters” who grab your bags, and don’t pay too much attention to the various people who come up to you with offers and sad stories.
One of the most common rip-offs on transportation is being cheated for the price of the journey. Often this is done by people who hang around the bus pretending to be drivers or conductors. They just come and ask you for the fare, and then disappear. Inevitably, you will be ripped off once or twice by these convincing conmen; it is a cheap lesson. The best rule to avoid this situation is: When you buy a ticket, get a ticket! If they won’t give you a ticket, don’t give them any money. Beware of this especially at the station before leaving.
On buses, you will almost always be given a little ticket of some kind. This is often checked by inspectors in route, so hang on to it. On other transport, like mini-buses, there will seldom be any tickets. Don’t pay until you get off, or at least in route, when everyone else is paying. Paying before you leave forces you to stay with that truck or bus, even though several others may end up leaving before yours does!
You will also be overcharged or short-changed numerous times on transport with no tickets. Ask the locals next to you what the fare should be. Have the exact change ready — be prepared with plenty of small notes and change before heading for the bus lot. In a few places it is considered common practice to charge a “tourist price” which is higher than what the locals pay. You often have to go along with it, but not without some bargaining.
Airports are the places where fresh new tourists arrive loaded with luggage, and the happy hunting ground of thieves. I knew one fellow who returned after one year of travel to have all of his film stolen in the Chicago airport. What can I tell you except to be on your guard at all times in airports. This is one place where you do not want to pay any attention to anyone with a sad story or an offer of service. Your one and only job is to get safely into town and find a hotel; you can worry about the rest later.
Nowdays, many airport security officers will ask if you are carrying any gifts from other people, if you packed your own bag, and if it has been out of your sight since you packed it. This is for very good reasons. Ask yourself these questions before arriving at the check-in counter. Do not agree to transport any package for another person without inspecting the entire contents, no matter how trustworthy you think they are. If you do so, know their address or an address where you are to deliver it, and tell the security people about this if they ask. If it turns out to contain drugs, and you claim it is yours, you are in deep trouble. Let us not even talk about bombs. Most backpackers keep their bag in their possession from the time they pack it until it gets checked in, so you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Keep the bag locked, especially if you check it at a left-luggage room in the airport. If you have any doubts, open the bag and go through it before checking in.