Unfortunately you cannot always trust strangers when you travel. Even people who seem the nicest, will at times be after your money and who knows what else. Here are some things to be mindful of.
– Do not travel with drivers who are not in a registered ‘taxi’ vehicle no matter how cheap their offer is. These unofficial drivers often crowd airports holding up signs for taxi’s. Make your way to an official taxi rank area or ask the airport staff.
– Hiring any type of vehicle including motorbikes, quad bikes and jetskis in particular can hold risks. Not only risk of harm to yourself due to faulty parts but also damage to your wallet. Many travellers have stories of salesmen trying to con them into paying for ‘damages’ to the vehicle that were already there to begin with. Be sure to always read the fine print when signing documents and always check the vehicle thoroughly before hand. Also make sure that your insurance company covers you for injury when it comes to vehicle hire.
– Credit card scams are common in big cities where there is a high number of tourists. Always use ATM’s that are connected to banks so that if there is a problem you can go inside the bank and inquire. Always request a receipt from the ATM before you complete the transaction in case you need it for evidence later. Always cover your hand when entering your pin. When swiping your card for purchases never let store personnel walk away with your card to another machine without you watching.
– Pick-pocketing and theft is a common issue in most countries, especially where there are tourists around. Always keep a tight hold of your bag and try to use bags that can be secured with a zip. Don’t carry too much cash at one time. Don’t carry important documents like passports with you unless necessary. Always keep your belongings at arms length when using public transport so you can see it at all times. Even when relaxing in parks or restaurants never leave a bag hanging on the back of a chair or anywhere that you can’t see it. Never let anyone else carry or pack your bag for you.
– Only ever buy visas through official government websites.
Drink and food spiking is common around the world. Never leave your drink out of site or accept a drink from a stranger. Visit this link to the Smart Traveller Australia site for information on safe partying. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t Australian, the same advice applies to all travellers!
Respect the Culture
Staying safe includes respecting the culture of the countries you visit to avoid offending locals and creating any conflict. Always research local customs, religion, manners and clothing. Try to do as the locals do, it will help you blend in and also to have a deeper understanding and experience in the country.
When something does go wrong
In the event that you are unlucky and something does go wrong, don’t panic. It is always best to keep calm and try to think clearly about the steps you need to take. Usually the first thing to do is to go to the nearest police station where the crime has been comitted and report the incident (theft, scams etc.). Or go the nearest hospital for injuries. There you can fill out a form which can then be issued to your insurance company. You will need this as proof to claim your money back for stolen goods and injuries. If your passport has been stolen you will then need to find the nearest consulate and present them with all of your other identity documents and ideally a photocopy of your passport so that they can re issue you a new one.