1. Keep the address to your accommodation, in both English & the native tongue written in both your phone’s notes (or snap a photo) and in a little notebook (phone batteries die). Everyone in your group should do this as reality is: you might lose your friends.
2. Get travel insurance if your insurance doesn’t already cover you overseas. I know heaps of people (usually British for some reason) who get injured overseas and have to head home or pay medical costs up front. Register with S.T.E.P. (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) here.
3. If you’re walking alone at night, try to walk slightly behind a couple. It sounds a little creepy, but you don’t want to stand out as walking alone. Especially as a girl, the couple you could be following will usually get the vibe with a smile. Obviously, don’t follow them home, but stay on the same side of the street as them.
4. Avoid dark or non-tourist areas at night, and if you do feel uncomfortable, switch train cars, or walk into very busy areas such as a restaurant.
5. If you do think you are being followed, stop to ask security or a public place for help. You can walk into a hotel that’s not yours to ask for help. Whatever you do, don’t walk to where you’re staying.
6. Keep money in more than one location in case some is robbed. Separate debit cards and credit cards.
7. Get a sturdy bag – not something with a thin strap that can be broken, nor a clutch that can be grabbed, nor a wallet in a front or back pocket. Wear your backpack facing front. My friend literally caught a woman’s hand in his pocket in a metro in Barcelona. Another friend had his backpack back pocket unzipped and things taken in Italy. If you look like a tourist (which you do), you’re a target for professionals!
8. Don’t bring attention to yourself as being a tourist, especially if alone or in a small group.
9. If you’re taking public transport to a night club or to meet up with friends for social outing: you might be somewhere where the culture is for a more conservative attire, so you may feel more comfortable covering up or wearing a coat until you get to the venue. Or bring clothes to change at your friends’ so that when you are in your youthful attire, you’re in a group and not alone. And guys, you might be back-packing, but some entertainment venues still have dress codes. Depends on your travel style; be prepared.
10. Just don’t get too drunk. It seems obvious, but you’re in a foreign country so you’re a target for all types of crimes just by being a tourist; being drunk just multiplies that risk by like a 1,000 (not an actual statistic).
11. Lock your windows and doors, hide everything inside; keep a lock on your belongings.
12. Ask questions regarding public transport… maybe the train or bus will take you to Point B, but once at Point B, there won’t be any cabs for the rest of your night’s journey. Maybe something is available throughout the entire night, but only in increments of every couple hours.
13. If you anticipate feeling really unsafe, pay the $20-$40 to get an international SIM card. You can pop this into your iPhone and have internet everywhere. Google Maps will generally show you where a cab is taking you and Google Translate can help you ask locals questions. To do this, have your domestic carrier “unlock” your phone.
14. Don’t wear jewelry unless you’re staying in a luxury hotel and have their private cabs driving you and picking you up.
15. Don’t take cabs that aren’t registered with the city. “Private Cars”
16. If you’re traveling alone or in a small group, try to meet people during the day to hang out with at night. Not that new friends couldn’t be creepers too, but odds are your judgment is better in daylight and sober.
17. Book up on boozin’. The alcohol content in some beers is almost twice as much as American beers. A single vodka soda in Sydney is actually legally calculated, so a vodka soda in Europe could be 3 to 4 times stronger.
18. Don’t leave your drink unattended. Anywhere.
19. Keep your friends and family posted on where you are. Mostly, just to keep them sane.
20. You can join a tour group or meet up with friends of friends to still get that independence (not committing 24/7 to a travel buddy), but having someone around when you want them.
21. Trust your gut. Seriously, it’s probably right.
I’m a relatively small female, so I get that traveling alone for me might be different than for a 6’5 basketball player. And some of these tricks you could apply to staying safe when out in general. Regardless, danger sees everyone and cliché as is: it’s better to be safe than sorry.