This is a guest post written by Modi, a keen traveler and Internet marketer who is employed by a toys company. He is trying to save up as much as possible until he sets off for new adventures. I (Emily) thought it was especially important to share, as a friend of mine just got mugged in Tanzania.
I’ve been traveling for quite a while in places where many tour operators characterize as “dangerous” or “life-threatening,” especially in South America and Africa. Although it is a fact that violence in some of the world’s developing countries affects more people than it does in the occidental world, I cannot agree with the exaggeration of those claims. I have managed to find my own way by adapting to different lifestyles to the one I am used to following in Europe where I reside.
I think the real problem of being mugged lies when people are not well-informed about the sociopolitical and economic situation of the country they are going to visit. What is even worse, though, is being unable to sense the differences while we are actually there. In my opinion most of the people who get mugged they are not just unlucky but not organized and in some cases a bit naive or even ignorant.
A typical “bad luck” story
I cannot forget the face of that middle-aged, blonde German wealthy-looking guy who was in the same train as me from Rome to Napoli. He was dressed in a white suit, wearing a white hat and a shining gold Rolex watch, having that huge high-tech camera hanging from his right shoulder. It was the first time I was going to Napoli and I was expecting poverty, misery, and petty theft from what I knew about the capital of the poorest part of Italy. Looking at that man again and again, I was hoping I had wrong information, as I was wearing just my shorts and a t-shirt, carrying a bit of money into my socks and a little camera well-hidden into my front pocket. As soon as we got out of the train station and no later than a couple of minutes, a young boy stopped the German fellow to ask him something, while another one came running quietly from behind, snatched his watch and ran off!
Top 9 Tips
After my experiences in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Morocco, Turkey, Poland, the Mediterranean and Balkan countries, and other “dodgy” destinations, I have come up with some tips that can help any traveler and offer peace of mind:
1. Leave all your valuables at your hotel/room and don’t carry that rucksack all around, because that will make it too obvious that you are a tourist. If you need to take anything with you, stick it into a plastic bag so you won’t be noticed carrying that camera.
2. Whenever you are distracted by passerbys, street kids, vendors, and beggars, never leave your valuables out of your sight. What usually happens is that while you’re looking at them, their partner is taking your valuables away.
3. If traveling by bus, keep your rucksack with all your valuables on you and don’t leave it unattended, as you won’t find it later.
4. You don’t need all those gadgets you are used to having back home. If you go around with your iPhone, you will go back home without it, that’s for sure.
5. Avoid wearing fancy or colorful clothes that will make you stand out. Keep it simple, more or less the way the locals do.
6. If you need to have a mobile phone, take with you an old one or buy a second-hand one and keep it always in your front pocket and in silence. A phone that starts ringing is like an alarm informing about the new idiot in town. If you need to make a phone call, don’t do it from the street but walk into a shop and you’ll be fine.
7. Avoid wearing jewelery, cheap or expensive. That is the biggest source of trouble as it will attract the big sharks who expect you to have more than just what they can see.
8. Don’t carry a lot of money with you and always keep your money split into two different places, e.g. a bit in your pocket and some more in your shocks, bra, or underwear.
9. Avoid taking photos in quiet places or during the night. Also, don’t do it in very busy places and always look behind you before you make any.
What are some of your best tips for staying safe abroad?
Photo by Doug Wilson