For many travellers, arriving in a new city or country for the first time is often when they are at their most vulnerable, especially for those travelling solo. Here are some basic but expert travel safety tips that will decrease any risk to you and keep you safe.
My last trip saw my plane arrive at my destination long after 12 midnight, the hostel I was staying in was not the easiest to find and I wasn’t in any mood to be trekking a long distance in a strange city looking for it in the early hours of the morning. These were two situations that were not ideal and most of the time situations that I would not let myself get into, but sometimes these things just happen. International flights often arrive at inconvenient times, especially if they are delayed, you won’t know the lay of the land until you arrive and you may find any help, directions or information you could normally get at the airport simply won’t be there. Sometimes these things can simply be out of our control. They can’t be helped and you just have to role with it. The trick is to know what to do to manage the slight rise in safety risk that challenges like these can sometimes bring.
These expert tips will help you do just that, whether you are a seasoned traveller finding yourself in a new and unfamiliar city or a first time backpacker arriving at the first stop on their gap year, taking these simple steps will help keep you safe and secure until you can get yourself orientated.
If you are arriving late at night:
Obviously it is always best to avoid this option if at all possible, but sometimes you just can’t, and you will find yourself walking bleary eyed through a half closed airport trying to find the best way to get to the nearest bed. Don’t worry, it isn’t ideal but there are ways to negate any potential risks before they become a problem.
Pre book your room.
This is one of the very few situations where I will advise anyone to pre book a room. The absolute majority of the time pre booking isn’t necessary and you can get a nice place at a good rate by simply doing a bit of research and looking around. However, the last thing you want to be doing is traipsing around at two in the morning in the dark with your backpack feeling really heavy and looking for a place to stay. It’s a recipe for disaster. Just book a room, even if it just for the one night. You can always find something else in the morning.
Let your hostel, guesthouse or hotel know what time you should be arriving.
A simple email a few days before your arrival will ensure that there will be no problems with being locked out at hostels or having your room or bed double booked because they think you haven’t turned up.
Spring for a taxi.
This is another piece of advice which I rarely give out, but again this is one of the very few situations where it is warranted. Sure, using public transport is cheap, easy and in most cases much more convenient. But when you are arriving late at night, it isn’t worth it. Just swallow the expense (or even better, budget for it) and get dropped off right at the door of your accommodation safely and easily. That way you will be in a nice comfy bed all the sooner too. Just make sure that you head to official taxi counters or ranks, and avoid any of the touts that will try and swerve you into one of their own taxis.
If you arrive during the day:
Arriving during the day does take a lot of pressure off you and it does reduce a lot of the extra risk that comes with wandering alone late at night looking for a place to stay, but you still won’t be at your best, you will be tired and your situational awareness will be impaired. Many times the tips given above can just as applicable during the day, but in daylight hours there are just a couple of extra things to be aware of.
Your own situational awareness.
During the day the airport or train station or whatever facility it is you use to arrive in your new destination will be far more alive. It will be far more packed, far more crowded, and almost everywhere will be open. In many ways this is a good thing, safety in numbers and all that, but that also means that there are far more touts, scammers and potential thieves about, so do yourself a favour and just be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your pack.
Be aware of any potential scams.
With the amount of people at airports and transit stations, it is a fair guess to say some of them will be out looking for targets to rip off and scam, and unfortunately a newly arrived traveller with a backpack strapped around them and looking a bit confused just screams target. The absolute vast majority of the time this will simply involve touts trying to get you to used unmetred taxis or diverting you toward specific hotels so they can get a hefty commission. This isn’t dangerous as much as they are simply trying to part you with more of your hard earned cash than you need to, but you still need to be aware. Read up on some of the most common scams, and just make sure that you know what to look out for and when.
Don’t worry too much about the dangers of travelling, it is important to reduce the risks and be informed but these tips aren’t meant to put you off. I don’t in any way want to scare any of you. It is important to remember that travel is generally inherently safe, and any personal risk to you on your travels is often pretty low. The trick to staying safe is to recognise those times and situations where that level of risk starts to rise and take steps to negate it.
So the next time you are arriving in a new and unfamiliar city or country, just remember these tips and keep yourself safe.
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This article was written in partnership with the Blacklane, the professional driver service. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.
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