Travel safety often focuses on female travel, but men travel solo too and are often much more likely to be at risk. So with that in mind here are some expert safety tips just for the male travellers! That’s right, you did read that correctly I said MALE safety tips! Safety tips for men! So for all the awesome men out there planning their gap year or round the world adventure, listen up! These expert safety tips are for you!
The internet is full of guides for solo female travel, to the point that anyone may think that women are the only ones who are empowered and strong enough to take that step out of their comfort zone and travel the world on their own terms, but despite what the mass media may tell you men travel solo too! In fact men have been travelling the world and getting themselves into all sorts of trouble since the dawn of civilisation!
What, did you women think that you were the only ones at risk when you are travelling the world? Did you think being a solo female backpacker somehow automatically made you more at risk of becoming the victim of a crime or falling foul of some unexpected disaster? Did you think it was somehow easier and safer for men to travel solely because of that magical appendage between our legs? Sorry ladies, it doesn’t work that way. That defining masculine characteristic, as awesome as it may be, doesn’t magically make us immune from trouble. More often than not it gets us into it.
So with that in mind, lets talk about travel risk and travel safety for men!
Travel Safety For Men.
The title solo MALE backpacker sounds strange, I grant you, because generally men do not need to create a gender specific identity in order to make ourselves feel empowered or inspired, we tend to feel that way anyway, and talking about travel safety for men seems a little redundant, because society in general does not single men out as an at risk group that needs protecting. If anything bad does happen during our travels men are expected to be able to deal with it and just get on with things.
Yet despite this, that does not mean men are exempt from the worry or fear of something happening on the road, and men are certainly not automatically safe. In fact the opposite is often true.
Now it is important to state that travel is overwhelmingly safe for both genders, the Office For National Statistics and The Foreign Commonwealth Office shows that year on year out of the tens millions of outbound travellers, only tens of thousands needed consular assistance for anything ranging from being a victim of a crime to losing their passport. These statistics show that those travellers who were the victims of crime were in the absolute statistical minority.
But that risk, however small does exist, and the simple fact is with the sole exeption of sexual assault, men are much more likely to be the victims of all other types of violent crime, including assault, battery, mugging, murder and many more, and are significantly more likely to die as a result. This is just statistical fact borne out year after year repeatedly in the Crime Survey Of England And Wales,. It is also a fact that men are much less likely to have a fear of anything negative happening to them or becoming the victim of any crime. That is probably a by product of a lifetime of macho, testosterone fuelled socialisation. We are not allowed to show fear and therefore learn to act strong and tough. Unfortunately a lot of the time this often leads to an overblown self confidence too, which can be a risk factor in and of itself, and a blind spot when it comes to actual risk.
But contrary to popular belief men do not have some sort of hidden copyright on safety, yet all the focus on travel safety advice and protection is aimed mostly at women, yet this gender bias is never really spoken of.
So for all you men about to set off on your round the world adventure, here are a few tips to keep you safe.
Expert Safety Tips.
Act Like You Are Invincible.
Now this is one thing that a lot of men have very little trouble with but it is still so important that it is worth mentioning. Exuding confidence is one of the key weapons you have to deter any trouble. Even if you don’t feel confident, never let that show and act as if you are. Send out that big swinging dick in a locker room energy.
A quiet confidence that tells everyone around you not to mess with you or they’ll be in trouble if they did is often more than enough to make any would be attacker think twice. Most potential attackers instinctively target a weaker opponent, so if everything about you from your demeanor to your body language screams ‘I am in my element and can look after myself,’ your chances of being targeted will drop dramatically.
But Don’t Be Cocky!
Being confident doesn’t mean you have to act like a complete dick. Never mistake confidence for arrogance. Overconfidence and more accurately the cocky attitude that comes with it, can lead to you overestimating your ability to deal with a situation and lead to you landing in a deep pile of the proverbial. You don’t need to be brash or loud, you don’t need to puff up your chest or start getting all gobby if something or someone annoys you or touts get a little too pushy. That is far more likely to get you INTO trouble than keep you out of it! This is especially true for men, as men are statistically much more likely to use violence on another man if you escalate a situation through your own behaviour.
Remember, men are much more likely to become a victim of most types of violent crime in general than women are and statistically much more likely to be killed as a result of violent crime. Wind your neck in and calm down. Practice exuding a quiet self confidence instead, that is what will keep you safe.
Get your face out of that smartphone screen and take those damn earphones out! Paying attention? Good!
If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings or keep an eye on your belongings or the people around you, then you are simply asking for trouble. If you aren’t paying attention you run a much higher chance of having your stuff nicked or of being robbed or scammed.
It is important to develop your situational awareness and just take subtle notice of your surroundings and what is happening around you. Where are the emergency exits when you enter a room? Why is that shifty looking guy giving you the stink eye? Why is that small crowd of people getting uncomfortably close to you? Is your laptop easily grabbable from the table it is on?
You don’t need to be overly paranoid here, and that is an essential point, just be aware of what is happening around you and keep your eye on your stuff.
Spot the backpacker?
No that garish Hawaiian shirt or that Tiger Beer singlet you just bought is not the height of fashion, those board shorts are great for the beach but you are going to a fancy restaurant for crying out loud so put them away! I don’t care what that tout told you when he chased you down the street shouting ‘sir, sir, suit for you!’ You don’t look like god’s gift wearing that god awful T Shirt.
Sound harsh? Maybe. There’s nothing wrong with the odd beer branded vest top and shorts when you are relaxing on a tropical island somewhere, but wherever you go you should be mindful of the way you dress so as not to stand out and draw even more attention to yourself than you are already getting.
One of the best ways to stay safe is not to make yourself a target in the first place, and if you look like a typical tourist or backpacker and you stand out like a sore thumb, then you are going to have a huge tout target on your back whether you realise it or not. Those opportunistic thieves and muggers will think they have won the jackpot when they see you, assume you will have a ton of expensive gear and probably a lot of cash on you and will simply bide their time until they can relieve you of it all.
If – like me – you are 6”2, broad shouldered and Caucasian, then you are going to stand out in certain parts of the world no matter what you wear, but there are ways to minimize that problem and at least try to look like less of a target to all the touts, scams artists and criminals out there.
You don’t have to swan about dressed in full local dress regalia of course, you’ll look even more out of place than those inappropriately dressed, bum bag wearing tourists straight off the cruise ship, but you should make an attempt not to look like a tourist. Dress comfortably, but dress in a manner that makes locals think you may be an ex pat living and working in their country rather than just another tourist. (This works best when combined with a good dose of self confidence and a few phrases of the local language). Trust me, you’ll thank me when the hordes of touts rush past you and head straight for the fresh faced couple with vest tops, cargo shorts, brand labelled laptop or camera bags and overstuffed backpacks on their shoulders.
Another common mistake many men make is by offending people without even realising it by having a T shirt emblazoned with a logo that will offend local religion, culture or sensitivities. Did you see that episode of Top Gear where they drove to the deep south of America and declared that Jesus was of a particular sexual orientation on the side of the car? That was for entertainment purposes but you get my drift. One of my favourite T Shirts back home has a slogan from a mustachioed hero from a certain zombie franchise that invites people to partake in tasting on his short and danglies, but I’m not going to wear that when exploring the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi! Wearing slogans like that may be fine in the more touristy parts of wherever you are visiting where the tourist markets are full of T Shirts with ‘sex, drugs and whatever’ logo or a picture of a half naked woman plastered over the front , but it isn’t the best idea to wear it in a conservative Muslim country that may be offended by the message you are displaying on your chest, is it?
Why draw the attention – and possible hassle – to yourself? Simple, plain clothing with no potentially offensive slogans is all that is needed.
Don’t Fight Back.
I don’t care how many Jackie Chan Films you have seen or how many times you have seen Out For Justice or Kickboxer, you are not Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme! You cannot fend off twenty armed assailants with a few deft moves! Are you listening Tackleberry? (Extra points for getting that reference!)
If the worst does happen and you are mugged, robbed or assaulted. or that arsehole at the bar really wants to try and square up to you, then don’t be a hero and do not fight back, not unless you really have to. Especially if your assailants are armed.
If you can back down and run away then forget your pride and run like you stole something!
I understand the instinct to fight back, believe me, I do. It’s natural for men. When testosterone mixes with the traditional fight or flight response it can be a powerful brew regardless of what choice you make. When the worst happens and you find yourself in a situation where violence may occur it is only natural you will want to fight back, and if you don’t, it is only natural that you will replay that scene over and over in your head afterwards, imagining what you could have done differently. This is normal, and there is nothing wrong with it, but it really doesn’t matter, don’t let your ego dictate how you respond. If you can walk away, do it, every single time.
The truth is your pride and ego really doesn’t matter in situations like this, as long as you get out of the situation safe and alive, then that is the main thing. It is the only thing that counts. I understand that you will have to run the gauntlet of anger, humiliation and shame, and you will replay the situation in your head a thousand times or more, that is a natural part of the male psyche too, but your pride is not worth getting killed over. It goes without saying that your life is far more important than your wallet and your ego.
The one exception to this rule is when you are cornered and literally cannot run, or if being submissive and giving your mugger or assailant what they want will still result in you being harmed or worse. If for example your assailant is out to hurt you rather than simply take a bit of money, or is so impaired through drink or drugs to the point that their behaviour is completely unpredictable, then you have no choice but to defend yourself. In that instance and you feel that your life is in immediate danger, the fight response is the right one, do anything and everything you can to defend yourself and get out of there at the first available opportunity.
Swallow Your Pride.
There may be times on the road where something gets to you. Scratch that, there will be times. It’s inevitable. Even Gandhi got pissed off from time to time. You will get annoyed by the incessant touts, you will get fed up of the taxi or tuk tuk drivers constantly trying to rip you off, you may get the odd call out at a bar or may even get into an argument. The best thing to do is to deescalate the situation as quickly as possible and get out of there. Just smile, say you are sorry and try to walk away at the earliest opportunity. Do not let the situation escalate to the point where an argument or even violence becomes a possibility. Your pride is not worth putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
That goes for having a sensible approach to risk assessment too. I know, you are very manly and full of testosterone filled goodness, but if jumping off that cliff or going tubing after one too many whisky buckets looks too dangerous for you to handle, then it probably is. Just don’t do it, I don’t care how many of your mates are daring you.
Man tests are all fun and games until someone smashes a skull in.
Independent travel should be fun, it should have an element of risk, there is nothing wrong with taking some calculated risks and going skydiving t 40,000 feet or tying yourself to bungee cord, but there is a limit so just try and be a little sensible about it and don’t let your masculine pride put you in avoidable danger!
Don’t Get Drunk.
By all means have a drink or three, have a great time. Travel can also be a holiday after all and should be enjoyed as such. You should never deny yourself a good time. But as always, there is a limit and there is a time and a place. When you are so drunk you can’t control the situiations you find yourself in, make reasonable choices or you have no control over your actions, you are as much a danger to yourself than anything else may be.
Remember when you are drunk you not only lose your inhibitions and ability to make rational choices, but you leave yourself vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, from the various scams and touts trying to rip you off or certain bar girls making sure you have a nice long nap after that drink their friend the barman gave you, to being unable to moderate your own behaviour and trying to headbutt the seven foot meathead you thought was looking at you funny, which could get you into a certain amount of trouble. Have a drink, enjoy yourself by all means. Just stay in control.
Research The Local Scams.
There are plenty of scams, cons and tricks out there, most of which are simply designed to part you from a little bit of cash, and it is always worth researching as much as you can and being aware of them so that you can recognise them before they happen to you. As a man however, there are certain scams and even downright crimes where you will be specifically targeted for your gender. The bar tab scam, the ‘buy me drink’ overcharge, the date rape drug robbery … there are a lot of them. Many involve a young pretty woman using her looks to either distract you or massage your ego, so if you are in a bar and are approached, remember that you are not Henry Cavill or Brad Pitt and just be on your guard. There is absolutely no need to be too paranoid, odds are she may even just want to chat to you, but there is always that small chance you are about to get scammed. Have a great time, be friendly, always be polite, just be on your guard.
So there you go guys, just a few basic tips and tricks to keep you safe on the road. Okay, so apart from the odd gender specific exception, these tips can be applied to women too, in fact general safety tips are almost universally the same for men as they would be for women, but that doesn’t mean men don’t need to take a sensible view on their own personal safety and security.
The fact of the matter is it is safe for ANYONE to travel the world independently, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever whether you are a man or a woman. Everyone should be taking reasonable common sense precautions to reduce the personal risk to themselves and keeping themselves safe. Remember that travel is in general very safe, you just need to prepare for and minimise the small risk that is there.
You just have to do some research on the places you are visiting, have the right knowledge and information, use your common sense, and apply some reasonable and sensible safety precautions to your behaviour without going over the top and letting them ruin your trip.
If you want to prepare yourself as much as possible, you can do some more reading on how you can avoid dangerous situations and keep yourself safe here. But don’t let fear ruin your trip. Do your research, apply your common sense and enjoy yourself! Backpacking around the world will be one of the best things you will ever do, you will have an absolute blast, and by listening to these tips and doing your research you will come back safe and sound too.
Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
Buy The Books.
If you want to gain a more in depth knowledge and understanding about how to keep yourself safe on the road as well as research and understand some of the risks and dangers that you may face out there, then you should get hold of a copy of Gap Year Safety. The book that is here to reassure, support and encourage you to follow your dreams of travelling the world and give you the tools and knowledge on how to stay safe in the process.
Gap Year Safety is the essential, comprehensive safety resource for anyone about to embark on their first gap year. Delving much deeper into issues such as how not to fall prey to common scams around the world, how to stay safe and not become a victim, how to recognise and deescalate potentially violent situations and what to do and where to get help if things do go wrong, Gap Year Safety is an invaluable resource to keep yourself safe on your travels.
It is here to answer all your practical safety and security questions, relieve you of your fears and worries of what may happen and provide you with the tools, knowledge and information you will need to make sure you stay safe on your trip. With the information and knowledge contained in this book, many dangers and troubles can be avoided altogether, or at least dealt with safely if they do occur.
With comprehensive advice from ex military personnel, self defence experts as well as qualified health care professionals and utilising the unique REACTE system of personal safety, this book is an absolute must read for anyone about to set off on their gap year or round the world adventure.
Gap Year Safety: The ultimate guide to safely travelling the world is available in traditional paperback, or in eBook format across all platforms including Kindle, Apple and many more.
One To One Advice.
If after reading this article you need more detailed information or if you want one to one safety advice from an experienced expert, then please feel free to use the Bemused Backpacker Gap Year Safety Consultation service.
You will get an hours consultation with dedicated one to one tuition designed to ease your worries, arm you with the knowledge you need to keep you safe and prepare you as much as possible before your trip so you can simply get on with enjoying your round the world adventure of a lifetime.
Covering everything from what you need to know before you go, how to stay safe on the road, how to deal with and avoid danger or difficult situations and what to do if something does go wrong, this consultation service is an absolute must for anyone about to embark on their first gap year or round the world adventure!