Top 10 Tips To Stay Safe In A New City

By Jack Clark 10 months ago

Research The City

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If you're planning on visiting or even moving to a new city, it is of paramount importance that you research the local area and ask people around you if they have visited and what their experience was like. There are going to be dangerous things about any new city you decide to visit, but it is important that you don't put yourself in any unnecessary danger by visiting a dangerous part of that city. Many tourists and people who have just moved to an area can easily lose their wits and let their guard down, which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings

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This one seems obvious and is a tip that everyone should employ, regardless if you're in a new city or not. Staying aware of what is going on around you can quite literally save your life and give you enough forewarning that something bad is about to happen. If you're walking home alone at night and see someone ahead of you then cross the road to avoid a potential altercation, or maybe if you're in a bar and there is someone who seems to be intoxicated and agitated then move along to a different bar to get out of that situation.

Avoid Displaying Expensive Items

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There are plenty of thieves on our streets, especially in European countries. They prey on oblivious tourists and can easily snatch your cell, wallet or other important belongings and, by the time you've noticed that your precious iPhone is no longer on the table, they're long gone, and they've probably already sold it. The best thing to do is hide away any expensive items in a small bag that you keep on you at all times. It is also worth avoiding wearing that new, expensive watch or piece of jewellery as it makes you a high-value target for the more brazen of thieves.

Use Well-Lit Streets

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When you travel to a new city, part of the reason for your visit might be to experience the nightlife, or simply go on a romantic evening date with your partner. Being out past your bedtime on a trip is one of life's great pleasures, but don't let that hinder your normal sensibilities. Thieves and attackers are usually most active during the evening and nighttime hours, and unaware tourists walking home in the dark is their bread and butter. The best thing to do if you need to walk back to your accommodation at night is to use well-lit streets wherever possible.

Stick To Well Populated Areas

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Another great tip to stay safe is to not venture too far away from areas that are full of people. Whilst the more confident of thieves can still be active at the height of day on a busy street, there is way less chance of you being the victim of a crime if you stay around areas that are well populated. This is because there are a lot more people who could bear witness to some kind of theft or assault and, therefore, criminals are way less likely to prey on tourists in these areas. Try staying around areas with lots of hotels and restaurants, or in and around a beach club.

Blend In With The Locals

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This one can be difficult to do, but can help you to avoid nasty human predators. The number one target for criminals in a city is someone who is clearly not from around the area. Tourists tend to make themselves unintentionally known to everyone around them with certain actions such as taking lots of photos and selfies, or maybe asking for directions or recommendations. Criminals have a keen eye for non-local people and the best way to avoid their gaze is by trying your best to blend in. Don't make it obvious that you're from out of town.

Don't Carry Important Docs

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Whatever you do and where you can help it, do NOT carry round important personal documents in a new city. Thieves and criminals will have a field day with your personal documents, and it is important that they do not get into the wrong hands. If you're travelling abroad and need your passport, do NOT use this as a form of personal identification when out and about in the new city - if a thief gets a hold of this you have zero ways of getting home. Make sure that important docs are locked away in a safe in your accommodation, or maybe entrust them with your hotel staff.

Use Reliable Transport

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We're spoiled for good transport here in America. Whether that be Uber, Lyft, Gett or a normal taxi service, we've got an abundance of train lines and we're never too far from an airport for longer journeys. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other countries. Whilst they still have great transport, there are some darker sides to them. Whether that be unlicensed cabs, bad train lines or even dangerous underground services, it is best to book your transport with reliable, trusted and well reviewed businesses so you know that you're going to receive the safest travel possible.

Plan Your Routes

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Another tip that seems obvious, but it is important that you plan ahead the routes that need to take for each day of your trip. Planning on visiting a museum? Know a couple of different ways back to your hotel. Thinking of catching a late night show? Make sure you can book a legit taxi service home, or know where the well-lit streets are. Criminals target tourists, especially those who look lost or are going around asking for directions. It's the best way to put a target on your back. Plan your routes ahead of time to avoid dangerous encounters.

Share Travel Plans With A Friend

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This is a big one. Sometimes people, even if they have meticulously planned their routes and know exactly where they're going, can find themselves in trouble because of some unforeseen circumstance of sudden change in their plan. It is important that you keep a friend updated on your travel plans so that, if something does happen, there is someone else who knows your rough location and can contact authorities if need be. So many people don't use this method and it can land them in trouble if they're stuck in a stick situation.

Don't Share Personal Info With Strangers

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It might seem that someone is being friendly, or even trying to help you out, but it is SUPER important that you don't share your details or any kind of personal information with someone you don't know that well, or even a complete stranger. If you're in a new city, strangers can easily take advantage of your kind, trusting or even naive nature, so it is important that you stay vigilant when conversing with new people. Not everyone in a new city is out to get you, but it is smart to keep a healthy skepticism about a strangers motivations when speaking with them.

Memorize Emergency Contact Numbers

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It can be difficult to memorize your own cell number, let alone other peoples. However, if you're in a new city, it is SO important to memorize contact details of close friends and family in the case of an emergency. If you lose your phone and other important documents, you have no way of getting in touch with people - unless you've memorized someones cell or home number. This can really get you out a jam, especially if you're in a different country and don't speak the local language. It will be easy to get to a phone to make a call, just make sure you know the correct number!

Trust Your Instincts

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This isn't spoke about nearly as much as it should be. Your gut instinct is one of the most reliable forms of self-defence, especially if you're aware of your surroundings or a situation you might find yourself in. There are plenty of people out there who ignored their gut-feeling about a situation and found themselves in a bad spot. You can pick up on changes in mood and environment if you just listen to your gut, and it might just save your life. Keeping in touch if your instincts is one of the most important things you can do if you find yourself in an unfamiliar city.

Be Discreet When Using Phones

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If you can help it, try to avoid flaunting your brand new iPhone when visiting a new city. An expensive phone is an advert to local criminals that there is some easy pickings on their streets and you want to avoid being a fresh target at all costs. Being discreet is one of the best ways to avoid altercations with criminals, as they wont even be alerted to your presence. However, if you constantly have your phone out or on the table, or if you're generally unaware of your surroundings, then it is an easy way to get your phone or personal belongings stolen from you.

Keep A Backup Of Important Docs

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We've already discussed the importance of not carrying around important documents but, should the worst happen and you lose the originals (or have them stolen), it is paramount that you keep a backup of these documents. You can keep them digitally on a secure cloud platform, or even paper copies that you stash away somewhere safe. That last thing you want to do is lose your ID, or worse still, your passport! This is especially important if you're in an unfamiliar place or a new city. So, make sure you keep backups of your documents.

Use Reputable Accommodation

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We've all gone hunting for cheap and easy accommodation, especially if we're travelling around and we want to save money for experiences whilst we're away. However, it can't be stressed enough the importance of using decent, reputable and well-regarded accommodation. It's so easy now to find accredited hotels and hostels that are known for their safety and security, and staying in a place that is cheap but doesn't have good reviews just isn't worth the risk. You might end up paying slightly more per night for safe accommodation, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Keep Emergency Cash

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When people go abroad, most will take their bank or credit card to pay for things as there isn't such a hit on exchange rates. However, those people who only bring their cards can end up finding themselves in a sticky situation if they lose their cards or have them stolen. It is super important to bring some spare cash (in the correct local currency, of course) with you so you can get yourself out of a jam should the worst happen. You might need to pay for a cab ride, or even have to get some last-minute accommodation, so make sure you bring some emergency cash with you.

Don't Get Too Intoxicated

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We've all visited a new city or been on vacation and, in all the excitement, had a few alcoholic beverages (any probably paid for it in the morning!). However, it is important to try and avoid drinking too much (unless you're in company that you trust) if you're surrounded by a new city and new people. When we drink too much, we can often lose control of ourselves, mentally and physically. We can become way more forgetful and even completely incoherent - this can be really dangerous if you don't have anyone to help you back to your accommodation.

Lock Doors And Windows

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When you're staying in a new place, whether you're in a house or an apartment, it is important to keep your doors and windows locked when you're inside. Often times, criminals know which apartments are used for tourist accommodation, and they can target unaware tourists who may leave their doors unlocked when out and about, which can equate to an easy robbery of personal belongings and important docs. Making sure that you keep your accommodation secure by locking windows and doors is a really important step to remaining safe in a new city

Be Cautious Of Accepting Food Or Drink From Strangers

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This is generally a good idea regardless of whether you're in your own town or in a totally foreign country. If you're out at a bar or restaurant, and someone hands you a drink or some food that HASN'T come from the bartender or waiting staff, it is best to avoid it. Even if you're speaking with locals and they seem really friendly, unless you've directly seen them open a fresh bottle or packet of something, it isn't worth the risk of accepting unsolicited food and drink. It is also worth trusting your gut instinct in these situations: if something seems off, it probably is.

Use A Money Belt

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Keeping cash and cards in a loose wallet can often result in you losing it or it being stolen, so it is worth investing in something more secure if you need to carry them around with you. Using a money belt is a really good way of keeping your cash and cards safe when they're about your person. It is securely attached to you AND you can hide it under your clothes (which can be important for the more fashion-conscious travellers). Keeping hold of your money whilst in a different place is really important and the last thing your want to do is lose it.

Try To Avoid Using ATMs

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There's many reasons why you should bring a bit of local currency with you when you're in a foreign country, but this one is probably the biggest reasons. ATMs can be breeding grounds for thieves, and not always in the most obvious way. Obviously, you can run the risk of criminals seeing you take cash out and they'll ten view you as a target. Unmonitored ATMs can also be rigged to copy and steal your card details, which can result in people losing all of their hard-earned money. It is best to avoid using ATMs at all costs, unless in an emergency situation.

Don't Use Public Wi-Fi Networks

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We've all seen those adverts for VPN companies, and for good reason. Using public Wi-Fi networks is a risk to your private information and it is best to protect this at all costs. When using a public Wi-Fi network, your details are way more available to potential information hackers compared to when you use a private network connection. If you're moving to a new city and plan on working in public locations, like a coffee shop or visiting different businesses, it might be worth investing in a VPN that can keep you secure when you're online.

Familiarize Yourself With Local Customs And Norms

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If you're visiting another country, it is worth getting up to speed with the local customs, norms and cultural elements. For starters, the locals appreciate it when tourists make an effort to learn some phrases in their language or respect their ways of life. Second of all, if you become familiar with how the locals act, it's less obvious that you're not from the city, and puts off potential thieves and criminals from targeting you. This is a really important step in trying to stay safe in a new city and it can save you from being targeted.

Use Licensed Tour Guides Only

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When visiting a city, it is always fun to find some local tour companies that take you around the city. They teach you about the city's history, art and anecdotes, and can can be a great way to learn more about the place you're visiting. However, it is imperative that you book a tour with licensed professionals only. There are plenty of dishonest people out there and some of them are fake tour companies that will take your money without completing the tour, so be careful to check the reviews and use a reputable company.

Keep An Eye On Your Bags

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If you've ever been on vacation, carrying around your luggage is one of the downsides. It is heavy, big and awkward and you often need smaller luggage to fit in the rest of belongings. However, you MUST keep and eye on luggage and bags at all times. Even just taking your eyes off of them for a couple of seconds can result in having your luggage stolen or lost. It is important that you don't lose sight of your belongings, especially if you've brought important items with you.

Keep Copies Of Your ID In A Safe Place

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Your ID is super important in a number of different situations. Whether you're buying an alcoholic beverage or if you need to present it to a member of law enforcement, you need to keep your ID in a safe place. If you need to use it whilst you're out, it is worth keeping it in a safe place about your person, and if you don't need it with you then you NEED to keep it safe in your apartment. Don't leave it out in your apartment, and definitely do not just carry is loose in your pockets.

Learn Basic Phrases In The Local Language

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One of the best ways to stay safe in a new city or country is to learn some basic phrases in the local language. This helps you to blend in to the new city to help not be noticed by criminals, but can also allow you to ask for help in case of an emergency. There are plenty of basic phrases you can learn - asking if anyone speaks English, asking for directions or even just basic conversation starters with local people. It is also really fun to try and learn a new language!

Stay Informed About Local Safety Alerts

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When visiting a new city, it is important that you stay up to date about things happening in the city. Looking up local events and happenings can give you some ideas of what you can do, but also being informed about potential safety warnings such as bad weather or dangerous things have happened. If you don't keep up to date, you can find yourself in a sticky situation really quickly, and leave you in a dangerous situation. In order to stay safe in a new city, it is imperative that you stay updated with local safety alerts.

Carry An Emergency Kit With You

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Another way of staying safe in a new city is by keeping an emergency kit with you. Something that carries basic first aid supplies, a flashlight and some sort of personal alarm will be a good start. You never know what situation you might find yourself in - you could have lost your phone in the dark and you need a torch to try and find it, or maybe you've had a small accident and need to treat yourself before you get to the emergency room. In extreme circumstances, you may even need to use a personal alarm to alert other people of your presence.