WHETHER travelling locally or abroad on business or pleasure the appeal of new sights and surroundings is what makes the adventure exciting – yet for these same specific reasons it also can hold potential dangers for the unwary.
More and more we read of women travellers being abducted, found dead or sexually assaulted, both here and in foreign countries. This is sad as most people travel to enrich their lives with sights and cultures from around the world.
However a few precautions and common sense can eliminate or greatly minimise the risks. When getting ready for your trip locally or internationally:
- Plan your route carefully in advance;
- Check in advance for any road works if you are travelling by car or bus;
- Let someone close to know when you will be leaving and arriving at your destination;
- Do research on the hotel and area you will be staying in for the nearest police station, hospital and so on;
- Should you be travelling to a foreign country, familiarise yourself with its laws, customs and traditions, and crime rate if possible. You may need to dress more conservatively depending on which country you visit as men in certain cultures will judge your sexual availability by your style of clothing;
- If you are travelling alone, try to travel during daylight hours and never hitchhike. Choose train compartments that have a few people in them as being alone in an empty carriage could make you vulnerable;
- Keep your travel documents safe: ID book, driver's licence, credit cards, medical aid card, travel documents and passport (if travelling outside our borders). Should these documents get lost it becomes a headache to replace them;
- Once you arrive, let someone back home know that you have arrived and that you are safe. Arrange to call them every so often; and
- Should you be travelling to a foreign country learn some of their words, such as "help", "police", "fire" and so on.
Once you have reached your destination look confident and dress like the locals so you don't attract any unwanted attention to yourself such as wearing flashy clothes, jewellery, or flaunting large amounts of money.
By learning to blend in, you will be less of a target. However, if you look like a rich tourist you become a far more tempting target.
Ask the local tourist authorities which areas to avoid, and which are considered unsafe. A map may tell you where the historical monuments are, but it will not be able to tell you where the last mugging has been.