I include some tips on travel safety and security for the sole woman traveler (as well as for anyone else, for that matter). Note: some tips may appear elsewhere in other related posts.
Never allow yourself to be distracted. Always pay close attention to your possessions and your surroundings at all times.
Periodically scan the quadrants that surround you as if they were the 15 min markers on a clock: i.e., 15, 30, 45 and 60 mins. on the hour.
Next time you see the Secret Service on TV, notice how they often appear to be scanning their surroundings in a similar manner.
This single most important way a pickpocket gets to rob you is to get your attention away from your possessions. The way he or she does this is to distract you. And there are a million clever ways to do this, such as dropping keys or other items right in front of you or by feigning to ask you a question, and so on.
‘RUNNING ON AUTOMATIC’
Do not run on ‘automatic.’ Pay attention!
This is just a simple, all-important catch phrase that’s well worth becoming something of the ‘new mantra’ for overseas travelers and adventurers. I think the ‘ordinary’ tourist (one who’s not so particularly steeply immersed into the travel experience versus the ‘traveler,’ who is more travel savvy as a result of a more in-depth travel-life history) may too easily just pay lip-service to the notion that one ought to be running on all cylinders overseas rather than just ‘running (blindly) on automatic’ as we tend to do when we travel, just as we typically do when at home, when we need not be particularly ‘conscious’ or aware of what is just at the perimeter of our envelopes, bubbles, what have you — our personal psychological and physical space . . .
The above is not meant so much as a warning that “the sky is falling; the sky is falling,” as it is a bid that we all need to be more conscious and aware than we tend to be in our overseas travels. The world is ‘a changing’, so, please, pay (more) attention!
Always vary your patterns.
The shortest distance between two points is usually the straightest-line between the points. It is too easy to become predictable in our comings and goings. All kinds people are looking to victimize people who exhibit regular patterns, i.e., who predictably, reliably, and dependably — and like clockwork — always do the same things, go the same ways, exhibit the same unchanging patterns — can be regularly, depended upon to be at the same places at the same time and exhibit the same patterns repeatedly.
The more your behavior can be predicted, the easier it is to ‘plan’ you to become a victim.
By varying your comings and goings you are less likely to ‘stand out’ or be noticed.
Always have an exit strategy — a way out!
Avoid getting yourself into a situation in the first place that you cannot get out of if you have to. Not always easy to do. Probably the single-most frequent cause of people getting into trouble is where and when your options are reduced to the point where ‘there is nothing you can do,’ i.e.,
your options or choices go to zero! You may become a victim when you allow yourself to have too few escape options.
The best example of this is people hitchhiking: getting into a stranger’s car or truck at night by yourself or into a third-world taxi cab where your escape options are too few or non-existent.
Maintain some degrees of freedom. Hold in reserve some kind of an escape valve.
Sadly, a good deal of dangerous situations discussed in this book were for women travelers who wound up having NO or few degrees of freedom, that is, they got ‘boxed in’ into in-escapable situations in vehicles or with strangers and with few if any ways out.
Always trust your ‘instincts.’
If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, the chances are very good that it probably isn’t. Better to over rely upon or over trust your intuitions sometimes and your so-called ‘sixth-sense.’
We are always trying to talk ourselves into ‘rational disbelief’ of unusual or unlikely situations and are prone to feeling and wanting to convince ourselves that ‘this cannot be happening,’ or ‘it cannot happen to me.’ — i.e, it cannot be happening, so therefore it is NOT happening; ‘This is too unbelievable,’ therefore. I DON’T believe it, and so on.
It is much easier to talk oneself into being complacent than it is to believe tor rationalize or convince yourself that something bad or horrible or unlikely is either about to happen or is actually happening.
Rationalizing, judging or ‘reasoning away’ a bad or difficult situation often robs you of invaluable ‘escape’ time, so that it can become too difficult, too late to deal with a bad event in a safe and effective manner.
Often paying attention to one’s inner self or gut level opens you up to attending to inner cues that you might tend to just too easily dismiss or rationalize away before it is too late.
It is better to be safe than sorry. If escaping a bad situation, because you err a little on the side of paranoia, just observe how good you feel when you finally manage to extricate yourself from a potentially troublesome situation.
Always consider where you should or should not go!
No stranger knows better than the locals, which places are to be avoided for safety’s sake. There are bad and worse neighborhoods to avoid during both day and night. If you ‘feel’ that an area is too remote, too quiet, too still, too dark, too many ‘questionable’ types hanging about . . . then maybe re-routing yourself is not such a bad idea.
Be careful of over-confidence in both yourself and others!
‘Quantum,’ unpredictable, or chance events do pop up or occur from time to time that even experts may find difficult to deal with. It’s too easy to become over-confident that ‘I can deal with this.’ or ‘I can handle this’ (or anything) that comes my way or crosses my path.
All too often, unforeseen dangers pop up and happen to people who become ever-so-slightly less observant or prepared to deal with simply because they become too complacent or careless due to over-confidence.
Know that you get what you drink!
Never, ever, ever walk away from your drink! Also, do not drink (or shower in) the water!
(Is strictly common sense):
Never, ever, EVER leave a drink unguarded, even for a moment!
Who among us has not witnessed a girl (or woman) getting up from her table or barstool to go to the restroom, glibly abandoning her drink to anyone and everyone to be potentially tempted to do the dastardly deed as ‘slipping her a mickey‘ (dropping something untoward in her drink), i.e., something as evil as like a date rape drug or God only knows what other incapacitating substance!
Has it every really happened? You betcha! Such goings on have often been reported to have happened to travelers to Mexico, for instance. And it’s certainly not limited to there; it happens at home; it happens everywhere.
When in doubt, don’t drink the water.
A corollary to this is that you get what you drink! Just never simply take a chance and drink that bottled water UNTIL YOU CHECK THAT THE CAP IS SEALED!
Bottled water is touted as the be all, end all for drinking water overseas.
They say that bottled water is as pure as a newborn baby. Maybe so. But they also say, “Hey, that’s nothing more than tap water!” Can you be sure you can trust third-world bottled water? Hell, you never know if it is just tap water, but the chances are these days that you can pretty much count on it being purified, with this one caveat, however.
All too often people simply will drink the bottled water without first checking that the bottle is COMPLETELY SEALED! Make absolutely certain that the cap is firmly SEALED to begin with!
Be careful of the shower! Be aware that shower water in third-world countries CAN do you in!
And, finally, here’s another thought about drinking the water. Well, I don’t suppose you think of shower water as something that you strictly drink, do you? But here’s something I’ll bet very few people really think very much about.
When you take a shower, water enters you just about everywhere — EVERY orifice: your eyes, your nose, your ears, your mouth, your skin . . . It can be tantamount to taking a drink. And, let’s face it: it only takes but ONE vermin to give you “Dehli belly,” doesn’t it?