Backpacking is usually pretty safe but obviously there are times when we are especially vulnerable. Here are some tips for staying safe:
- Watch your bucket! It is really easy to slip something into the wide mouth of a bucket, sand included.
- I found taxis to be ultra-scammy in Southeaset Asia and tried to avoid them in Bangkok. Travel with a buddy; the more the merrier. Watch the meters in Vietnam especially. They tend to rise strangely fast…
- Ensure your door guest house or hotel door is always locked.
- Check that the windows are locked before leaving (especially if you are ground level)
- Be aware of your surroundings and any new ‘friends’
- If something is too good to be true, it usually is
- If a tuk-tuk driver offers you an exceptionally cheap fare, he will usually make you stop by his friend’s shop. He will receive cash or a gas voucher in return.
- Inspect a room before taking it to ensure you’re comfortable with the amenities, fire escapes, hotel ambiance, and the room’s proximity to common areas
- Plan your schedule to arrive in a new place during daylight hours. If arriving alone at night consider paying for a shuttle or pick-up service to deposit you directly at the door of your hotel.
- Avoid political gatherings; don’t get involved with disputes that aren’t any of your business, even if you are curious.
- Don’t underestimate the power of firmly raising your voice or standing your ground
While I never had anything stolen from me, here are some tips for safeguarding your valuables.
- Bring small baggage locks
- Don’t be flashy with wearable technology, cameras and jewelry; dress for the context
- Bring a combination padlock and ensure it is not the type that has the dial face which can easily be pried off. Use the padlock when provided with a safe deposit box.
- IF YOU BOOK A BUS FROM KHAO SAN ROAD you can expect that your large bag will be pilfered through during transit, especially if it is an overnight ride. Do not, DO NOT pack anything in your main bag that you would be upset to lose. It may not even be worth putting baggage locks on (I’ve read) because they can be picked by these professional travel thieves. Your choice.
- Be wary of leaving your items on the beach when you go for a swim. Have a buddy keep an eye on them.
- Full Moon Parties are notorious for theft. Bring only what you need. Account for the 100 Baht entrance fee, ‘taxi’ ride home, booze and food.
- Be aware of your day bag while travelling on an overnight bus. It is not unheard of that someone may crawl along the floor during the middle of the night grabbing anything that isn’t secured. I brought a silk sleeping bag liner with me on my trip and not only was this great for grungier hostels but I would use it on an overnight bus trip for warmth. I would also place my day bag in the silk bag as well so that it was out of reach for would-be thieves.