Safety for both your life and property should be in high consideration while planning to travel and/or whilst travelling. Try as you may, there is no one way to ensure your security 100% but, you can minimize your risk as much as possible. Being a solo traveller and more so a backpacker on most of my personal trips, I do not get the luxury of always knowing where I will be spending the night, about my destination or have safety in numbers. So far, the below tips and more are actual measures I have applied, and they continue to keep me relatively safe. Feel free to adapt, even if you are not travelling solo.
1.Follow all regulations: Listen to the regulations on ground whether international, national, local, village among others. Currently, with the Corona Virus/Covid 19, the whole world is on high alert and indeed travel has been limited if not stopped in totality in some places. Different countries have put different safety measures in place and You should follow all of the ones affecting your immediate location.
Your life and the life of others is more important than any “fun” you may perceive you are missing out on.
2.Talk to the security personnel at your location: I highly advise letting the security personnel whether police, chief, your Embassy, High Commission, know you are in the area as well as having their contact numbers. I onced arrived at a destination and there was a language barrier with the locals. I walked into a police station nearby and asked them to help me communicate with the PSV operators. They went an extra mile and actually delivered me to the hotel in a police car and told the staff to watch over me. It is also advisable to inform your family and friends of your location.
3. Always place an item, at any of the entry points in the room: This is to ensure that if one is to open the door and/or push it in from outside, a noise will be made and I/you will definitely hear it. The options here are unlimited from having a chair placed on the door hence making the knob immobile, to having something dangle from the door. I also normally place a noisy item like a baby shaker, a rustling paper etc in my day to day bags like my sling bag, hand bag among others. This tact has saved me often as whenever a potential pick-pocket tries to access my bag, I have caught them thanks to the noise created once they touch the inside of my bag.
4: Make use of the lockers, safety boxes, padlocks: There are personal items that should always be under lock and key. You know those items that would have you admitted in hospital for high blood pressures if lost, yes those ones, keep them under lock and key. These include items like your passport-for countries that do not require you to have the original on you always, to electronics, cards among others. It also helps to lock your bags at all times.
5. Follow your intuition and instinct: I once suddenly felt overwhelmed by fear while walking on a busy street. When i turned back suddenly, I noticed I was being followed by a group of young men I had noticed previously. I immediately crossed the road and noted some of them do the same. I sprinted like crazy to the nearest shopping mall that was before me, practically flew up the stairs and reported to security. Sure enough, the whole group entered the mall a few minutes behind me and when they saw me with the security official, they retreated immediately
6. Be street smart -Always remember, a stranger/newbie is always easily identified by the locals. However, best way to counteract this is to try be blend in as much as possible. Do not walk around in your most expensive jewellery , do not flash money around by always offering to pay for peoples bills, do not walk in dark alleys and do not give out too much personal information. If heading to the populous markets, carry and use low denomination local currency. Also, engage with the locals more, as then you will have more people also looking out for you.
7. Get Insurance-Unlike the perceived notion that insurance is unnecessary or expensive, I cannot stress how important it is. Ensure you always purchase travel insurance when travelling which covers your health , property, life among others or at basic, travel health insurance if local. Transport options like airlines, buses etc have been known to lose suitcases, you may get sick or worst case scenario one dies and their body needs to be repatriated back home. The necessity of this became a reality to me when I was bitten by a dog on my travels. Please, do not die of/with stupidity.
8. Ask for Help: More often than not, your intended attackers may have noted that you are alone. If you get a feeling you may be at threat, stop and talk to anyone who seems “safe” near you and ask for help. I once noticed I was being followed while at a park . I spoke to a family there about my fears and they offered a haven for me by pretending they were with me, incorporated me in what they were doing and eventually they ensured I had safely boarded my transport home.
9: Pray, Pray, Pray -Even as you apply all the above and more, pray to God for protection. I am a Christian and for me, my faith and prayers have got me out of numerous dangers. I once almost stepped on a snake and just in the nick of time, a motorbike guy entered the alley, we jumped to avoid being hit only to see his lights shone on a snake which then slithered away. The stories are many and for me, this honestly works for me.
A few years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, made this statement , “Security starts with you” and at times I feel like people do not comprehend how deep and “real” that statement is. This is a mantra I have always had and continue to apply. Be vigilante, listen to your intuition, apply the above and more, and try at best to keep safe.