Avoiding petty crime when traveling alone
The fact is that if you travel alone you are probably more likely to be a victim of petty crime. When you travel with someone there is generally less risk.
Don't be put off traveling alone though. By employing a few streetwise moves you can make yourself less ripe for picking by the petty criminal.
Petty crime, particularly those involving tourists, is a growing worldwide problem. Petty crime against solo travelers is also becoming an increasing issue. A stolen passport or wallet can sometimes signal the end of a trip or ruin a whole holiday.
Indeed the most stolen items are cash, credit cards, cameras then passports. With the growing gap between rich and poor in many countries it comes as little surprise that travelers are more often or not targets.
The tourism industry on the whole is not helping the situation. In order to protect their business the truth about levels of crime in certain destinations is often covered up. The glossy brochures are generally silent when it comes to crime.
There are of course different types of crimes against solo travelers. There is the run of the mill wallet snatching to the well rehearsed scams. Scams are particularly prevalentin developing countries where opportunistic crimes seem to be more common in developed countries. Remember they can both happen anywhere.
Another crime that is common is extortion. Tuk Tuk drivers in Bangkok may ask for an inflated fare or security guards in Latin America may ask for money to protect your vehicle.
OK there is some sobering finds here but it is not all bad news. Solo travelers can make a difference to their security and can avoid being victims.We have listed below some simple steps to follow in order to minimise the chances of being a vicitim of crime.
Check out your destination and do your own research
Use the Internet and guide books to read up on the country you are heading to. Most guidebooks such as the lonely planet has sections devoted to petty crime and things to watch out for.
Check out government web sites for statisticson crime as this will tend to be more accurate than independentsources.
Consider as well that some countries have higher petty crime rates. For instance countries such as Hong Kong and New Zealand are relatively petty crime free compared to the USA, UK, France and Australia.
The next group would include countries such as Italy, Spain, Israel and Thailand where more vigilance would be required.
Finally countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia would require much more vigilance.
The problem with generalising about a country is that it will often depend where you are. For instance London would be considered much less safe than Cornwall. As would New York compared to a mid-west college town.
Split up your credit cards and cash
When traveling the golden rule is to split up credit cards, cash, travelers checks and bank cards as much as possible. If you leave your hotel room or hostel make sure there is an even split between what is in there and what is on your person.
The bottom line is that it is highly unlikely that your room and your person will be fleeced at the same time.
Always consider as well the worst case scenario. If you have everything on you and it all gets taken then this is bad news. By photocopying your passport and other important documents and splitting up your means of accessing money then you will lessen the impact of a theft.
Keep valuables hidden away and try to keep things in your sight
This is especially important if you are traveling alone. Try not to walk about with you backpack way behind you with pockets hanging open. Remember you are on your own with no one to look out for you.
Of course flaunting wealth when you are traveling will make you a target.
Be wary of people coming up to you
In many big cities in Asia you maybe approached by someone asking where you are from etc. Maybe they have a sister who studies English and would like you to meet them. They may have studied at a university near you.
Unfortunately when you travel alone you have to be wary of people and trusting someone you have just met is a risky business. This is a shame because part of traveling alone is meeting people and you may miss out on some great experiences but you have to remember that personal safety is the most important thing.
Taxis and cabs
When you travel alone the number one rule is to only get into licensedcabs. If you are not sure about the validity of the licence then take another one.
Rather than flagging down a cab you may wish to call one from a known company.
Reporting crime while you are traveling
Finally if you are the victim of crime make sure you report it. Many popular destinations have Tourist Police who generally speak good English and will be able to help you fill out the necessaryforms for travel insurance purposes.
Try not to be too paranoid when you travel alone and don't be put off going somewhere unless you have serious concerns. There is always the option of meeting other travelers as well.