Follow these tips to ensure that you have a smooth, memorable & safe trip
Who's idea of a great holiday is to have their money or valuables stolen? Who's dream trip involves their safety being at risk? Anybody? Nobody? Okay, good. Now that we've established that safety is a vital factor to consider when traveling to foreign places, read our tips on how to ensure your trip is smooth, memorable and filled with only smiles and fun.
Two Is Better Than One
When traveling, it's completely expected for you to want to experience every aspect of the city you're in. Just keep in mind that you're in a strange place and probably don't know the city or the people too well, which means you need to be a bit more cautious to avoid any mishaps.
Now, let's add alcohol into the mix. What are we left with? Vulnerability. And not just for women; men and women could both become vulnerable to theft, getting lost, or sexual assault - especially if they go out alone. Don't get us wrong - exploring a new place on your own is an absolutely wonderful thing to do, in fact, we highly recommend solo traveling at least once in your lifetime. What we are saying is that if you are wanting to go out and indulge in alcohol, that's great, just do it responsibly. Bring along at least one other person who you trust and that you can also have fun with.
Pick-pocketing and muggings happen all over the world and tourists are at a higher risk of being a theft victim than locals. This is because tourists are known to carry cash around with them and for being overly-trusting and naive.
Don't think that by going on a luxury trip you will be immune to theft. No matter where you go, don't parade the fact that you're a tourist. In other words, avoid wearing a fanny pack as thieves view this as a free-for-all ATM. Rather keep your wallet in a safe place (not your back pocket). Another touristy thing to avoid is whipping out large maps or guide books in the middle of the street. In doing so, you are essentially screaming, "I am a vulnerable, lost tourist!" Instead, go find a cafe to sit down at and read through your maps and books there until you've got your bearings.
Don't Flash The Cash
When going out, don't keep excessive amounts of cash in your wallet. Rather keep a small amount of cash in your wallet while you keep back-up cash/your card in a hidden place such as your bra or shoe. Once again, keep your wallet in a safe place, for example in your front pocket or in your handbag (ensure your handbag is properly closed at all times).
Less Is More
This one is not only for your safety, but for reducing your luggage fees, too. You don't need to be wearing your diamond earrings, gold chains, most expensive pairs of heels, fur coats and over-sized handbags while exploring new places. In addition to over-packing and extra luggage fees, you are sure to draw too much unwanted attention from sticky-fingered individuals.
Better Safe Than Sorry
It's always better to be precautionary rather than be care free and have to pay for the consequences later. Unfortunately, many people will smile in your face and pretend to be best buddies but behind your back they'll backstab you without even blinking twice. You should always keep your belongings hidden and safe, especially if you're staying in a dormitory with strangers. The best case scenario is if the accommodation provides lockers where you can keep your valuables in. If not, make sure to keep a lock on your luggage.
Just Say No
While traveling, especially in South Africa, you are most likely to get hounded by beggars. They will usually tell you some sob story, making you feel terrible for them and subsequently reach for your wallet. It is highly unlikely that your 'donation' will be used for food (which is what they will probably tell you). Additionally, taking out your wallet in the street allows everyone to see where you keep your money. If you would like to make a difference, rather volunteer at an organisation or make a donation to a registered charity. This way you won't be taken advantage of and you will know that your efforts are going to a true good cause.Unrelated to the stealing of money, another situation to just say no to is being seduced by strangers. Yes, you're in a foreign place with foreign men/women. It's normal to get overly excited about having an extra good time with the locals. However, it's far too easy to get yourself into a bad situation where an attractive foreigner has ulterior motives. Sometimes it's better to rather just say no.
Here at Riverlodge Backpackers, we take our guests' safety extremely seriously. We provide lockers for your valuables in our rooms. We also have a security guard on our premises and we can organise you safe transport to and from your destinations.
Written by Saskia Carelse
Photos sourced from Google Images, as well as personal collection
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