20 safety tips for budget travelers

1) When taking taxis from an airport to your hotel, travel in the more expensive airport taxis and make sure the drivers have official identification. Never take a taxi waiting outside the airport compound.

I know this sounds extreme, but it is much better to be safe than sorry.

2) When traveling from your hotel to the airport, take a taxi recommended by the hotel.

Again, taxis can be very dangerous. I cannot express that enough.

3) Try not to arrive in a new city or town late at night.

This can go wrong in a number of ways. It’s so much easier to check in during the day and security at night in certain areas is just terrible.

4) Travel in a group if possible.

Since when is traveling in numbers not a good idea?

5) Learn the basics in the local language before you arrive. Don’t expect people to speak English.

English is being spoken more and more these days, but you have to be sure. You should always check these things before your arrival.

6) Keep your valuables hidden.

A money belt is great if it is an option that you are willing to consider. There are many different styles of money belts. One of the most popular is an “over the shoulder” style wallet with a strap that was under the top. This makes it very difficult for a thief to get hold of your valuables.

7) Avoid going on your own to remote areas / ruins where tourists are expected to go. Seek local advice or bring a guide.

8) Read the guides and talk to other tourists to find out which areas are best to avoid.

9) When you leave the discos late at night, take a taxi home, no matter how close your hostel is. Outside of most nightclubs, you will find a street vendor selling cigarettes. Usually these people know all taxi drivers and can recommend a safe one.

10) When arriving in a new city, keep your original plan and stay in the hostel you have decided on. Don’t let the taxi driver convince you that your hostel is complete and that he knows a better and cheaper one. You will be working on commission and the shelter will probably not be in a safe part of town.

11) Even better, when arriving by train / rail to a new city, try to book your hotel in advance, preferably with a hotel that has an airport / station pick-up service.

12) Don’t wear expensive-looking jewelry.

13) On public transportation, keep your backpack close to you at all times, preferably with the straps around your legs or with a lock to the luggage rack. On buses, your backpack will normally go outside, either on top of the roof or in the external luggage compartments. On long-distance buses, ask for a receipt for your luggage. On short trips, just be vigilant each time the bus stops to unload bags. In case your bags are stolen, stay on the bus; You will probably need a statement from the bus company accepting responsibility for the loss to claim the money from your insurance company.

14) Leave your valuables in your hotel safe when going on day trips or longer tours. Get a receipt not only for your money belt / wallet etc. but for its content, with each item listed.

15) If you have to leave your passport and credit cards together, put the credit card in a sealed envelope and sign your name on the flap. This way, when you return, you will know that nothing has been tampered with.

16) If you plan to go to market areas, busy streets, parties, etc. don’t go with all your valuables. Drop them off at the hotel. If you are thinking of buying something expensive, keep your money safely in a money belt. Try to be discreet when opening it! To protect the small changes in your pockets, you can put a handkerchief away afterwards.

17) If the sidewalks are very crowded, especially in market areas, walk on the road.

18) If you suspect someone is following you, stop and look them in the eye until they leave. If you really have a bad feeling about a place, follow your first instincts and leave. Bag cutting is rare nowadays, but for added security, you can wear your backpack on your chest.

19) If you are on your back, try to walk without stopping. If you need to stop, gently rock your pack from side to side so you can feel if someone is handling it.

20) When you leave your bag on the floor, to take a photo or just to sit in a cafe, remember to put your foot through the strap. Not only will it be impossible to steal, but you won’t forget it either! This is the most common type of theft: tourists forget their bags in cafes and when they return to ask if someone has seen it, guessed it, it is gone.

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