With the constant media reports of piracy, kidnappings, terrorist attacks and other terrible things happening to backpackers and travelers all over the world, it can be very easy to see why one of the most common concerns, and some of the more frequent questions from first time backpackers is about personal safety. I’m sure many of you reading this have the same concerns, and you are not alone. Many first time backpackers are genuinely scared about their personal safety and security before they go backpacking, and it even stops some from going travelling altogether!
But it really isn’t like that at all, after more than a decade of backpacking the world both alone and with others I am speaking from personal experience when I say with basic common sense precautions backpacking can be very safe. And that goes for both genders equally. I understand from an academic point of view why women tend to have a higher fear of crime and becoming a victim, but despite that perceived fear the reality is very different. With the same reasonable precautions for their own safety and security they would take at home, women are no more at risk than men are most of the time. As my article on solo female backpacker safety states there are a few extra considerations that women do have to take, but in general common sense precautions really can minimise the risks involved with travelling and keep you safe.
I don’t doubt that terrible things do happen to some people, you do hear about them in the news after all. But you have to put it all into perspective, of the small minority of incidents that do happen, how many backpackers come home completely safely? What are the chances of being the victim of a crime or an accident in your home country than the place you are visiting? (Here’s a clue, London for example has a much higher crime rate than many popular backpacker destinations). Even in the technically ‘dangerous’ places, common sense and avoiding certain areas can minimise any risk.
So yes by all means take some common sense precautions and be mindful of your personal safety and security whilst on your travels, read the top 10 tips to stay safe when backpacking and read up and be aware of all the common scams, but don’t let that spill over into extreme paranoia or fear, and certainly don’t allow that to stop you from travelling! Be careful, but don’t be scared.
Use the advice and tips in the following pages to give you the knowledge and the confidence to help keep yourself safe, and then get out there and enjoy your travels!