Updated: Nov 17, 2022
Before you depart
1. Travel Itinerary
Ensure that an appropriate person (e.g., reliable, calm in a situation, consider health) knows where you are going and what time you are supposed to be there.
Leave contact details of your hotel or accommodation just in case there is an emergency, or if you don’t actually arrive or check in.
Don’t advertise that you are going to be away from your home on social media as this could expose your belongings and household being unattended that could lead to burglary or theft.
Don’t travel with expensive looking luggage that is going to make you stand out and become a target for thieves or opportunistic airport staff or taxi drivers at your destination.
On your luggage labels don’t add your home address as people may target your empty house. If you want to padlock your equipment, use a three-barrel combination lock, or even better, a four-barrel combination lock.
Carry money in various locations around your body.
Don’t have a wallet full of high denomination notes as it makes you a target for thieves.
Consider a money belt or another method of hiding notes.
If possible, use a pre-paid travel card or a digital payment method.
Gather useful information and telephone numbers such as good hospitals (purpose and hygiene) and trusted taxi companies (depending on where you are going, think ‘if there is a problem who is safe to call?’).
Read the newspapers, internet and watch the news, especially if you are going to somewhere new and you are unsure of the local nuances and cultural norms.
Understand what is happening in where you are travelling to e.g., elections, protests, natural disasters, existing conflict.
Understand the rules and laws of the country (alcohol, drugs, relationships, sex etc.).
Look out for political rallies and religious gatherings which could quickly become hotspots. Organisations like the FCDO produce travel guides and are a good reference.
Make sure that all your travel documentation is in date (passport more than 6 months, ideally 1 year).
Check that you have the correct visas (if required) and that your medical vaccinations are up to date.
COVID hasn’t left us so be aware that some countries still require proof of vaccinations, boosters, PCR tests and certificates.
Try to take spare passport photos as you never know when you might need them.
When you arrive and traveling
If you have travelled a long way prior to driving a vehicle you are going to be tired.
Tiredness causes us to make mistakes and could lead to an accident and possibly death.
If you have travelled a long way you may be suffering from jetlag and being on your own substantially increases the risk of falling asleep.
Does the hotel / accommodation you are staying at have a dedicated airport shuttle service you can pre-book?
Only use authorised taxi cabs, research before you leave home. Registered companies such as Uber are not always the safest (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/18/suspect-arrested-over-death-of-british-diplomat-rebecca-dykes-in-beirut).
If you are travelling on your own always sit behind the driver as it affords them very little chance to observe you or stopping you from leaving the vehicle.
Make sure that you can open the doors and that ‘child locks’ aren’t used.
Maybe follow your journey from the airport to your destination on a mapping app (Googles Maps, maps.me etc.).
Even take a photo of the taxi and forward it to a friend with the driver’s knowledge.
If the taxi driver speeds or drives erratically ask them to slow down. If they don’t then tell them that you are going to be sick.
3. Hotels and accommodation
Research your hotels, use ‘Trip Advisor’ and such sites to read reviews. If you are arriving early, try to book an early check-in at your hotel or guest house, that way you are not wondering around, tired and vulnerable until you can check in.
Carry colour photocopies of your passport in case the hotel reception wants to retain your passport, this can be said for all important documents.
Always take your hotel key card with you, rather than leaving it at reception - your information is stored on there for the duration of your stay.
Hotel safes aren’t safe particularly if they are not bolted to the wall of the room. Reception has the key code for your safe so don’t leave valuables and money, including your computers in your safe while you are not in your room.
Consider carrying a door stop with you (https://www.amazon.com/SABRE-Wedge-Security-Alarm- Siren/dp/B00M30SQGA).
When you are out of your room don’t leave valuables and money lying around your room. Either take them with you, lock them in your case or hide them well.
5. Choose your room
Ask for a room between the second and sixth floors.
Don’t be on the ground floor as the public also have access, plus the restaurants and bars are usually there too so it can be noisy.
Don’t go higher that the sixth floor as it limits your escape options of there is an emergency like a fire – not many ladders on fire engines reach above the sixth floor.
Don’t make it easy for criminals to steal your camera or phone, don’t keep your phone in your back pocket. Don’t be a ‘phone drone’ whilst you are out and about. Look up and look out to be aware of your environment. This allows you to be aware of your surroundings, watch out for people watching you, people acting suspiciously around you or getting inexplicably close. Where your camera on a strap or better, in a case. Keep your phone close to your body when taking a photo as your arms are weak when outstretched.
Ensure that you take on enough fluids throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Look at the colour of your wee, it should be the colour of light straw.
A suitably hydrated body is a healthier body. It stops us burning in the sun. It allows us to make more rational thoughts and decisions.
If we sip water – little and often it allows our bodies to absorb it better whereas gulping water makes us want to go to the toilet more.
Dress sensibly and according to the wants and customs of the country you are visiting. Research what is acceptable and what isn’t. Be careful of tight, form fitting clothing as in some countries this is deemed provocative.
Women, consider carrying a shawl in case you are required to cover your head or shoulders, men, consider a long-sleeved shirt as some tattoos are frowned upon, wearing shorts can be met with the same reaction.
In some countries open displays of affection are forbidden too.
Do your research of the country you are visiting.
Learn some of the basic language.
Learn the Emergency service numbers.
Where is the Embassy - find the details in case of emergency?
Check what documents you need – Visa / Vaccinations / Medical Card?
Check what Vaccinations you need?
Take some self-defence classes, even if just for more confidence.
Arrange travel insurance.
Load up a travel card and / or arrange travel currency.
Buy a strong rucksack / travel bag with lots of pockets / separate compartments.
Consider 3 or 4 code padlocks and RDF, card blockers.
Think about using a cross body bag or money belt.
Write down emergency contact details in case you lose your phone
Keep spare copies of all documents.
Pack a first aid kit.
Buy a personal alarm.
When booking accommodation be mindful of which floor you stay on.
Buy a doorstop for your hotel room.
Consider using a travel app such as Sitata or smart traveler.
Don’t wear expensive or flashy jewellery or watches.
Be mindful of wearing a wedding ring in certain countries as this can make you a target as you may be seen as being sexually experienced whilst in other countries it can be a deterrent.
Wear appropriate clothing to suit your environment or local religions and beliefs – be respectful and mindful of their cultures
As a woman consider wearing trousers in certain environments helping to reduce any unwanted or inappropriate attention / touching.
If you are traveling to and from work / meetings, be mindful of wearing appropriate footwear – suitable for running or escaping if necessary (put your heels / work shoes in your bag)
Use a door stopper in your room.
Is there a chain on the door? If so use it.
Put a chair under the door handle.
Use a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door.
Stay between floors 2 – 6.
Does your room have window locks or a balcony? Be mindful of access?
Maintain awareness of your floor by using the eye hole in your door.
Use a reputable transport company – Check your Uber / Bolt driver against the details in the app.
Take photos of the vehicle and registration and if possible, the driver and send to a trusted point of contact.
Check whether the child locks are on.
Know your route, take note of points on your journey, use google maps or an app to monitor your journey.
Use an app with family or friends such as Life 360 or similar.
Make a call in the car / taxi to trusted point of contact to say where you are going, estimated time of arrival and any other details you may feel you need to share.
Try and sit behind the driver.
If your driver is on their phone or driving too fast or dangerously then speak up and ask them to slow down or stop.
Strut Safe is a safety app in the UK, it is an app where you call, and a call handler will stay on the line with you until you are home. For other countries try and source a similar app.
Safety in Country
A good habit is to keep in a group if possible (safety in numbers).
Be aware of your surroundings and people around you – trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable.
If you think you are being followed, then find a café and go for a drink.
Keep an umbrella / keys / hairspray to use as a weapon in case of emergency.
Vary your route if you travel to / from the same place.
Alternate your arrival and departure times to avoid same routine.
In some situations where you don’t want your location to be known, when your transport drops you off do not go straight to your final destination – get out around the corner or a few doors away.
When using ATMs, try and use in public places such as a mall and not in remote areas particularly at night.
Be aware of scammers who use children to target visitors for money.
Be careful who you befriend or who expresses interest in what you are doing.
Be smart with money if you have a large amount.
Drink responsibly and keep an eye on your drinks, use an anti-spike top or a glass cover to prevent spiking (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spikey-Anti-Drink-Spiking-Stopper/dp/B003VN3N6Q).
Only drink bottled water that comes with a sealed top and not pre-opened.
Avoid ice and salads unless washed or made with bottled water.
Don’t give out your personal information.
Wear a cross body bag or a rucksack on the front of your body.
Try not to use your phone in public, it can easily be snatched from your hands.
If you visit any local markets or busy public places – try and stay with friends or in a group. Avoid being pushed and pulled into different directions.
Identify any possible escape routes.
Keep your Bluetooth off.
Do not connect your phone to any USB points – could be a ploy to steal information.
Avoid dark places or going out alone at night and identify city / town high risk areas.
If you are grabbed, scream as loud as possible, use hairspray, keys or anything possible that could harm an attacker but be aware of weapons and the mental state of the attacker.