This is our final part in our 3 part series on How to Travel Safe When Using Ground Transportation. In part 1 we focused on what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel safe. Part 2 covered travel safety tips while using a cab, bus or train. We’ll finish off with hotel safety and other general safety tips when using ground transportation.
Travel Tips for Hotel Safety
Book a room between floors 2-8. These floors are generally safer than the ground floor, where there is easy access. Avoid high floors (e.g. the 25th) which pose risk in case of fire as firefighters might not have ladders tall enough to reach top floors.
Avoid low-budget hotels unless you’re sure of their location. Often, but not always, these hotels are located in higher crime areas.
Ask the desk clerk to write down your room number and not say it aloud when you check in. The wrong person might be within earshot.
Don’t hang room service cards on your door. Call room service to place your order. Ask that a woman deliver your order.
Don’t open the door to a stranger, even if the person knocking claims to be hotel staff. Call the front desk to verify the person.
General Travel Safety Tips
Be extra aware of your surroundings when in crowds. Keep your luggage within your vision, in front of you and close to your body at all times.
Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t take the quicker route back to your hotel if it means walking through vacant lots, alleys, wooded areas, and other secluded spots. Stick to the well-lit, busy main circuit.
Seek the advice of locals in choosing transportation. What neighborhoods are unsafe? Is public transit best, or is a cab the better choice in certain areas? Avoid small unmarked buses or vans, which could be dangerous, especially if you’re traveling alone.
Learn language basics if you’re traveling to a foreign country. Learn enough of the language that you could call for help if someone were trying to rob, rape, kidnap, or otherwise hurt you.
Prevent abduction by car. If someone tries to force you into a car, if you can’t run away and he already has you in his grip, poke him in the eyes. If you carry something sharp, stab him in the eyes. Use your elbow or palm to strike sensitive spots like his nose or throat. Knee the life out of him as you aim for his groin or kidneys. Stomp on his feet. Hard. Use a chemical weapon like pepper spray. Use a stun gun or baton that you carry. Wear a whistle around your neck and blow a piercing surprise in his face.
If you do carry weapons, you MUST always carry one ready to be used at the drop of a hat; never carry a weapon in a purse or backpack where it’s useless. Weapons should be carried and concealed in your hand, ready for action.
If you don’t carry weapons, pick anything you have on your person or see in your surroundings that you could use to beat him with. You must get away. If you can get away, run and keep running. Scream and yell that a man is trying to abduct you (don’t just scream).
Wherever you are, walk against traffic to see what’s going on, which can minimize the risk of someone driving up behind you and abducting you. They’d have to drive on the wrong side of the road to get you.
If someone is following you, try to go where there are other people. Don’t be afraid to duck into a business, a building with a front desk, or another public place.
Keep your cell phone charged, and program emergency numbers in the phone. Bring the charger with you.
If you feel in great danger of a crime, act off-balance yourself. Babble incoherently. Spit or hiss at an assailant. If you have food, eat in the most revolting way, getting food all over yourself. Wave your hands wildly and proselytize. Criminals tend to avoid the unpredictable.
Wear neutral clothing that blends with the culture. Don’t wear anything too tight, too bright, or too busy. You may attract the wrong person’s attention.
Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Don’t invite crime.
You needn’t be icy to strangers, but be guarded and ready for a situation to turn bad at any time. The traits of traditionally socialized females are dangerously exploitable.
Wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable enough that they allow you to run. Imagine wearing high heels and having to run from an assailant.
Travel light. Having more than one piece of luggage will make it difficult to get around. Plan to have one free hand to deter thieves.
Use a decoy wallet or handbag. If you’re robbed, immediately give up your wallet or handbag since it’s a fake containing expired credit cards and a few dollars.
If someone approaches you with a gun, give up your purse or wallet, turn and run away. It’s not easy to hit a moving target. Run in a serpentine pattern (in an “S” pattern). Scream as loudly as you can. Your chances of getting shot at are about 50-50, as are your chances of being hit. If someone comes at you with a knife, drop to the ground, get in a fetal position to protect your torso, and use the self-defense methods described above. Become dead weight on the ground. It will be difficult for him to lift you up.
It’s scary to imagine the potential dangers in using ground transportation, although it’s unlikely that anything bad will happen if you take precautions, heed your intuition, and watch your surroundings.