Security Tips for Travellers

Travel Forums General Talk Security Tips for Travellers

1. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Travelling to so called "dangerous destinations" (The focus is on Latin America but could also apply to many areas of cities in Europe and North America) before you arrive at your destinations check out the travel warnings on travel forums and/or US, UK, Canadian and Australian Govt. warning sites for their citizens, don't ever be paranoid, but aware, or you should not travel to such areas independently.


The following item is related to both personal and document safety. I do not carry a wallet. Instead, years ago a fanny-pack became my wallet and continues to this day. ADVICE: In preparation for robbery, create a GIVE-AWAY fanny pack (or wallet) that you can hand the bandit pointing a knife at you. In this GIVE-AWAY you put your EXPIRED drivers license, credit cards, etc... You can keep a few pesos or sucres or euros or dollars (whatever you can afford to give away) in it for purchases and whatever you might for need money. You keep your identification, photocopy of passport, and money, credit card, etc. in a money belt under loose-fitting clothing, or best locked in your hotel safe if not travelling, and hope a bandit doesn't think of it. I never experienced a knife-point robbery, but I understand they do happen, so I took my own above advice. A money belt can be uncomfortable in very hot and humid weather, eventually I just left the money belt in my home or hotel and wore only the give-away. The choice is yours, which do you prefer? Hand the bandit a GIVE-AWAY or the REAL THING?

  • Guns are not allowed for foreigners anywhere in Latin America. So, in my GIVE-AWAY fanny pack, I carried a small vial of pepper-spray. (If you fly to your destination you may purchase pepper mspray legally in many countries, then give it away before your return flight) About a dozen times, while in a bad neighborhood, the pepper-spray gave me a feeling of security as I had it in my hand with the cover open and safety off thinking I might need to use it. I never did actually use it, but better to be ready than not ready!
  • At night in cities and towns you need to exercise extreme caution in the types of neighborhood(s) you venture. Even on the shore walking on a deserted dark beach admiring the beautiful moonlight, definitely not a good idea! And don't head to a local cantina (bar) late at night alone buying locals drinks, giving out your address and intinerary and flashing money. Always maintain a low profile, especially if you don't speak the language.
2. Posted by Demian (Full Member 117 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

The idea is good, although not new: various posts in this forum spoke about a faky wallet (which I actually used in the past as well: I had an old wallet with some old bank and other cards and a small amount of cash in the backpocket of my trousers, and the real stuff in my shoulderbag or small backpack)

Quoting dbloom

eventually I just left the money belt in my home or hotel and wore only the give-away.

Uhm, why only wear the give-away? Aren't you missing the point of the give away? (which is to distract robbers from the real stuff. If you don't carry the real stuff on you, there's no need for a give-away, is there?). why don't you just carry some cash and ID in your pocket when you go out?
I usually divide my cash between various pockets now, or sometimes even my socks when I carry a lot (when I go out or so). IF you get robbed, they'll probably be satisfied with the contents of one pocket, provided it is a credible amount)

And by the way, I think robbers nowadays know what's going on: in most cases I know of, the poor victim was almost stripped naked... So moneybelts and fakeys won't work, as the first thing a robber will ask you is to lift your shirt. (Moneybelts are more designed against pickpocketing anyway)

Another tip: If you're carrying a daypack, put your documents and money in the inside pocket for your waterbag (if present): I heard numerous stories of robbers who cut the underside of a backpack, so all the contens fall out, and they run with all they can grab before you even turned around. The inside waterbag pocket should remain undamaged in most cases.

3. Posted by Lorcan (Budding Member 59 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Personally, i think that all the aboce is very sound advice, but you just have to use common and keep your wits about you at all times. Read a story in another post of one guy in Bolivia who was sort taken back in awe of his surroundings, which can, understandably happen. Everytime i've travelled, especially alone, if i have ever had a VERY bad feeling about something, i will simply not do it, even if it means taking a much longer way home. Also if you seem to be getting too deep into something, like on anight out, just try and step back and look at your surroundings. Erring on the side of caution whilst travelling can often mean the difference between staying safe, or spending a long time in a police station reporting stolen goods...

4. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Very well said, if you are staying in a really marginal area of a city or town alone and lonely, use common sense and don't go out drinking until 2-3AM in the morning, I did ONCE, well over 20 some years ago and got mugged for the equivilant of $12.00 and my shoes, since then I have encountered no problems. Don't trust taxi drivers with too much information, nor overly friendly locals who speak your language and offer to take you to your hotel, especially if you are a lone female. Ask other travellers where it is safe to enjoy the local nightlife, even if you must put up being with other travellers. There are many more positive activities to enjoy day-side such as treking and touring around, meeting 'normal' locals and getting the feel of the culture, sounds of the language, navigating around. Join one of the hospitality sites on line where locals or long term residents are often able to host you in their homes a day, two or more (worldwide)and give insider advice on what to do, where to go and what to see and avoid as well. Beats Taxi Drivers, Bars, Hostels and Pensions and Scam Artists any day. Message me for info.

PS/PD Advice for drinkers...Rohypnol or Roofies are readily available in some Pharmacies in Latin America, so never accept drinks from anyone you don't know, especially if a female and never carry your backpack and passport/credit cards into a crowded bar or club day or night, spend a few extra dollars or euros to stay in a lodging place that either has a safe, lock box or locker service. Spend a few dollars a few thousand.