6 Safety Tips while Traveling

Locked_Up_AbroadLast week, I was setting my 2011 travel schedule and watching National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad – a horrifying show about what happens to travelers who land their butts in jail in foreign countries.

Normally, the show features a girl from London caught smuggling drugs out of Peru, or contractors in Syria taking a wrong turn – incidents which aren’t going to happen to me.

But then, they featured a clueless traveler arriving in the Philippines alone and being kidnapped in a taxi and held for ransom.  Yikes!  That one seemed almost plausible and it got me thinking more about safety while traveling.

So I did a little research and compiled these 6 safety tips for travelers:

If tested:

Attackers sometimes test their victims beforehand by distracting, bumping, or yelling to see how you’ll react:

1) Be prepared by looking confident and keep walking forward. If you stop, you may give your attacker the opening he’s waiting for.

2) Another option is to run. If an attacker is creating a commotion, you can simply run in the opposite direction to get away.  

If approached:

Often you can see your attacker coming toward you. (For instance, both times I was mugged, I saw the young men approaching out of the corner of my eye.) The best thing to do in this instance is raise an alarm and draw attention to yourself and your situation by using:

3) Your Voice: Yelling can be incredibly effective.  Screaming at the top of your lungs can startle or frighten your assailant and alert others that you’re in trouble.

4) A Personal Alarm: If you’re afraid you won’t find your voice, you can set off a personal alarm with the same effect.

If attacked:

If you are attacked, let your valuables go. As a smart traveler, you’ll have money and copies of documents kept in multiple places. But if you are in danger of physical harm, you can opt to strike first using:

5) Fingers in the eyes, an elbow to the throat, or teeth on an arm. Kicking in the groin with your knee is not recommended since your attacker will be able to see it coming, you’ll be off-balance, and it’s harder to land than you think.  

6) Everyday weapons like a ballpoint pen or a belt with metal buckle work too. Again shoot for vulnerable areas like the eyes or throat.

After that one episode of Locked Up Abroad (and knowing my own self), I decided to take a self-defense class next month.  I’m sure I’ll learn the skills and gain the confidence that will keep me safer if I land in an unfortunate situation.

I also think it will help me relax and enjoy my travels more. I encourage you to check out a self-defense course near you.


This entry was posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 and is filed under On the Road.

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