Digital Nomads – Stay Safe Abroad
Digital Nomading around the world should be an exciting, rewarding and safe experience. It usually is and I hope that you never have to worry but unfortunately there are some not very nice people in the world. I’m not saying that everyone is out to cause you trouble but there are some simple steps you can follow to help stay safe.
Before you go
- Check for alerts and warnings relevant to your destination. Check your governments travel warning list for updates and reasons. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html (US)
- Ensure you have all the required documents such as passports and visas. Photocopy or scan all of these. A back up is better than nothing.
- Try and leave an itinerary with a family member, at least that way people will know where you are in the world.
- If you are taking a smart phone or tablet download a map app if possible. Citymaps2go is a decent one with maps of many major cities around the world.
- Invest in travel insurance.
- Make sure you have the address and phone number of your countries embassy in your destination.
- Use common sense and pack accordingly, you probably don’t need to take every single valuable thing you own.
- Don’t take too much cash or to many credit/debit cards. You can use travellers cheques in many countries and are able to withdraw money pretty much anywhere in the world now.
- Keep your bag with you at all times, you don’t need to make it easy for some rascal to pinch your bag. Keep the bag on your lap, above your head or on the floor with the strap wrapped around your leg.
At your destination
- Be wary of your surroundings. Everywhere in the world has it’s less than great places, places you wouldn’t walk alone after dark. Learn where they are and be cautious. Write down or memorise the address of your accommodation in case you get lost.
- Ensure your passport and other important documents are always in a safe, secure location.
- Become James Bond. If your room is not ideally secure improvise, buy a rubber door wedge or utilise a chair under the door handle.
- Stick to the popular streets where possible. If you have to walk alone at night try to stay on the well-lit, well populated streets.
- Bone up on public transport, learn the route, what time it runs till, where to get tickets from etc. Never get into an unlicensed taxi, if in doubt don’t get in, wait for another.
- If you need to exchange money ensure you use a proper shop, not a guy on the street.
- Check you have everything before leaving. Don’t be someone who leaves their phone on a table, remembers 5 minutes later and rushes back to find it is missing.
- My Grandmother used to tell me to spread my money about my person. She was right. Never keep all of your cards and cash in one place, lose one and you have lost them all. Consider putting some in your sock if needed.
- Watch for pickpockets, if possible use an inside pocket or a money belt. Some of these thieves are pretty talented, they are still however, thieves.
- If you are carrying a bag or backpack consider wearing it backwards, facing forwards. This will eliminate the possibility of anyone having a rummage without you noticing.
- Don’t flaunt your wealth. If you come from a developed country, and are travelling to a developing country you are likely to have more money than the locals. They don’t need you to flaunt it. Don’t count out large amounts of money, maybe don’t draw attention to your expensive wrist watch or camera. Have fun obviously but just be discreet.
- Never leave your bags and other belongings unattended.
- Be wary of friendly strangers. Most people will just genuinely be nice people, some will not. It can be difficult to tell who is nice and who is pretend nice but be cautious and not over trusting. Don’t follow them in to unknown areas of town. We have all heard the stories of unsuspecting travellers lured to a bar and charged $100 for a drink. Do your research, check out the local scams and be safe.
- Try and blend in, look more like a local than a tourist. I’m aware that this won’t be possible in many countries but at least try to avoid I ‘heart’ wherever t-shirts.
- Don’t overdo it on the booze. Many people like a drink, I do, just be aware of how much you are drinking. It is easy to get carried away when the prices are potentially cheap and the atmosphere is good. Never leave your drink unattended, make sure you know your way home and try to stay with your friends.
- Don’t be a hero. Should you find yourself in a situation with a mugger you are better off handing over what they want. It’s not ideal but provided you have insurance and aren’t carrying all of your valuables with you everything can be replaced. Keep yourself as safe as possible. You can always carry two wallets and hand over the fake one.
- Become less charitable. Avoid giving money to beggars, unless you have spare change in your pocket. Never take out your wallet to get money, you never know who is watching or how genuine the beggars are. Some are simply waiting for an opportunity to snatch your things. If you wish to give money try donating to local charities or volunteering.
- Be careful where you use your credit/debit card, make sure you use cash point safety.Cover your pin and be aware of anyone trying to distract you.
- If you are interested in extreme sports make sure you use a reputable company, it may cost more but will almost certainly have better equipment, better instructors and give you a better experience.
A great rule of thumb here is to trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Stay safe and have happy travels.