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11 Sep

Staying Safe As A Tourist; Helpful Tips

1. Don’t wear flashy jewellery

Wearing expensive, flashy jewellery is one sure way to make yourself an obvious target for robbery. Leave it at home, friends, especially if you plan to travel to crowded areas!

2. Drink responsibly

This has to be one of the most important safety tips for travellers.

Lots of people enjoy exploring the local nightlife while travelling, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that it’s even more important than ever to drink responsibly when you’re travelling.

When you’re away from home you’re more likely to get lost or end up in a dangerous neighbourhood, and being obviously drunk makes you an easy target for scams, robbery, or worse. 

Oh, and ladies, never forget the golden rule of safe drinking in public: keep an eye on your drink at all times!

3. Be smart about your money

Any solid resource of travel safety information will tell you that it’s never a good idea to carry huge amounts of cash. Instead, open an account with an international bank or credit card company so you can use local ATMs. If you absolutely must withdraw large amounts of cash at once, leave the bulk of it locked up safely in your hotel or hostel and carry only what you’ll need for the day.

When using ATMs, try to use only those that are attached to banks as these are less likely to have been tampered with by scammers.

Never keep all of your money in one place. Keep cash and credit cards in two or three different places so that if one of your stashes is stolen you aren’t left completely empty-handed.

4. Be aware of popular scams

Research the place you’re visiting to see what the local scammers are up to. Scams range from RFID scanners to ploys using children to play on your sympathy. You’ll be less likely to fall for these scams if you’ve heard about them ahead of time.

5. Know the phone number for emergency services

Be sure to look up the emergency services number for your destination, even before you get there. It’s also a good idea to look up the number for your country’s nearest embassy before you leave. Write them down or save them in your phone so you’ll have quick access to them in the event of an emergency.

6. Use the right bag

Cross-body bags are safer than shoulder or handbags and can prevent people from grabbing your bag as they run or drive by. There are tons of bags made specifically for travellers with features such as slash-proof straps, RFID blockers, and locking zippers. Invest in a good bag that suits your needs and preferences.

7. Bring travel locks and use them

You can save a few bucks by coming prepared with your own lock if you plan to stay in a hostel. Even if you’re not staying in a hostel, having a travel lock that can secure your bag to your seat or chair while dining or in transit will help keep your valuables safe from theft.

8. Keep digital copies of important documents

When travelling, your passport may be the most valuable thing you carry. In the event of a stolen passport, having a digital copy will help make the process of getting a replacement easier.

You may also like: The greatest travel hacking guide you need for a stress-free trip

9. Try to blend in

Tourists tend to carry larger amounts of cash and valuables and are more vulnerable to scams. Try to avoid being an obvious tourist. 

Dress as the locals do, don’t stop abruptly in the middle of busy streets to take photos, and even when you’re lost try not to make it apparent. If you need to ask for directions or consult a map, step inside a shop or cafe to do so.

10. Use reputable transportation companies

Research which taxi companies are reputable before you arrive in a place, and use only those. If you’re ride-sharing using an app like Uber or Lyft, double-check your driver’s vehicle information and verify their name before you get in the car with them.

11. Check in with friends and family often

Before you leave let someone know your itinerary, and update them on any changes in plans. Make a habit of checking in with a close friend or family member back home at the end of each day. 

I know this can seem like a hassle, but ultimately it’s better to be safe than sorry. If something terrible were to happen, you’ll get help faster if someone knows where you were supposed to be that day.

12. Ask locals for advice

When you check in at a hotel or hostel, ask for recommendations about which neighbourhoods are safe and which are not so safe and mark places to avoid on your map.

13. Use apps for emergency alerts

There are a variety of apps out there aimed to provide safe travel information and help travellers safe.

  • Sitata is a great app that alerts users to potential dangers or disruptions to travel in real-time. It also includes tips for avoiding the latest scams and helps users locate nearby hospitals.
  • Smart Traveler is the official U.S. State Department app for travellers. There are many useful features, including notifications for travel advisories and alerts and locations of U.S. embassies. I’m sure there are similar apps for citizens of other countries, but I was unable to find any information about them online.  

14. Stay aware of your surroundings

You should always pay attention to what’s going on around you, whether you are in a crowded tourist spot or walking down an empty street

15. Trust your instincts

If someone or someplace is making you uncomfortable, there’s most likely a reason. Often our subconscious picks up on things that we aren’t consciously aware of, and that’s where our “gut feelings” come from. Listen to those feelings. They will help you stay safe.

Now that you’re armed with these simple safety tips for travelling, it’s time to get out and explore Lagos!