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 circumstances that were not ideal and most of the time a situation that I would not let myself get into, but sometimes on the road these things just happen.
International flights often arrive at inconvenient times, especially if they are delayed, local transport options may have stopped running, 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 rise in the risk of something bad happening 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 dependent on what flight you have to get (or delays you have to deal with) 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 and you will be putting yourself at extra unnecessary risk. Just book a room, even if it just for the one night. You can get a good nights sleep and 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. Any decent place with an alert member of staff will also be aware of when you should be arriving and can be useful for any last minute directions over the phone.
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 that still doesn’t mean it is trouble free. 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 be just as applicable during the day, but in daylight hours there are just a couple of extra things to be aware of too.
Your own situational awareness.
During the day the airport, bus or train station you arrive in your new destination at 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 use unmetered 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.
Preparation not paranoia.
Don’t worry too much about the dangers of travelling, there are risks out there yes and certain factors can raise our individual risk levels but these tips aren’t in any way meant to put you off or worry you.
I don’t in any way want to scare any of you.
It is important to reduce the risks and be informed, but it is also just as 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 avoid or 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.
What do you think? Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or please join in the discussion on my Facebook or Twitter pages on this important topic, and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons and spread the word.
If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
If you want to gain a more in depth knowledge and understanding about how to reduce the risks of travelling and keep yourself safe on the road then you need to read these books.
Along with it’s smaller companion book aimed specifically at solo female travellers, 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 to stay safe and not become a victim, how to recognise, avoid 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 and 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.