Personal Safety When Travelling Abroad

Techniques for improving your safety when travelling abroad


Travelling & backpacking abroad without the knowledge of self-protection is like going to sea without a life jacket!

One of the most important factors in keeping safe while travelling anywhere in the world is situational awareness. But be aware, situational awareness will be completely different when walking the beaches of southern Australia from walking around the Bronx or Brooklyn, New York. The beaches in south Australia are far safer than the Bronx, but on the other hand, the Bronx will seem like a walk in the park compared to certain locations in South America or Africa. It is all relative.

It is worth remembering that your wallet, camera, and valuables are not worth dying for should you be forced to give them up.

Also remember, 9 times out of 10, when you are selected by a predator for being robbed, that is all he or she will want and will quickly disappear once they have gotten what they want.

Then we have the other type of predator, the one who wants to sexually attack you, hurt you, kidnap you, and maybe kill you to avoid any chance of you being a witness to their crimes against you.


  • Be aware and never relax when in unknown territory.
  • Constant awareness of your environment is your best defence. Always be alert, whether you are in your car, on the street, or in your accommodation.
  • Always keep a rubber doorstop when you stay in hotels, hostels, and other types of accommodations. If someone tries to kick the door down or break in, it could give you vital seconds to get out of a window or alternative exit.
  • Have a plan of action
  • Play a mental “what if” game. Where would you go and what would you do should a dangerous situation occur?
  • Trust your instincts
  • Research shows that most assault victims had a feeling something was wrong just before they were attacked.
  • Take notice; be aware if you are suddenly getting beautiful people paying unwanted attention to you.
  • Keep your senses free. Do not wear radio headphones, large hats, or other devices that make it difficult for you to sense an attacker. Always be alert.
  • If you can afford a tracker GPS phone, get one. (Keep extra batteries and charger units if you are planning any type of trip to the outback.).
  • Try and blend in, Human predators are no different to predators in the animal kingdom, they will target outsiders, people who look lost and are not in their normal environments
  • Always have a plan, an exit route out of your accommodation in an emergency, and when planning a walk through unknown territory, urban or bush, always look at places you can get help before you leave.
  • Full first-aid kit and plenty of water, especially when travelling in unpopulated areas.
  • Always carry duct tape wherever you go, it has so many uses that if you get a bad open cut or wound, it’s strong enough to close it up until you get proper medical attention. It can also be used as a leg splint, or arm sling, repairing a cracked water bottle, a butterfly bandage, to temporarily patch a hole in a canoe, to handcuff someone should the need arise, to mend shoes and clothing, to repair tents, you can even make a drinking cup from it, emergency repairs on a vehicle such as pipes and hoses, to splint a broken tent pole, and probably many other uses.


I am sure you have heard the saying stick to the road, stay off the moors (American Werewolf in London). Sounds like a safe way to travel. My own opinion is to not do what everyone else does. If backpackers are abducted, chances are they were travelling along the side of a road. Predators do not go off the beaten track or wait in the woods on the off chance that a hapless victim might come strolling by. Predators are always on the lookout for potential victims, where potential victims are meant to be. If you are a travelling backpacker and on your own, you are bait for an opportunist predator.

Would you find a fisherman trying to catch a fish by a lake or sitting in the woods near a lake? I would personally say there is a good argument for not traveling by a roadside, you are too easy to spot and extremely easy to grab and be pulled into a car and abducted.

My advice would be to travel just off the beaten track, I am talking maybe 25–50 feet away on an adjacent path or track if possible.

Where is the safest place to sit in a restaurant/café?

The main thing to consider when taking a seat in a restaurant or café is the type of crime that could be committed while you are peacefully having a meal or coffee. The most probable crimes to be committed are robbery and terrorism.

Sit at a table where you can see the entrance, but not next to or close to the entrance. If possible, do not corner yourself or your family. Choose a seat where you can see the door but have an escape route through the back or at least access to a fire exit to the left or right, so try not to box yourself in on a bench seat in the corner.

Also, keep far away from the area that takes the money and payments. If someone is going to steal the place, this will be the focus of any frustration and anger.

If it’s not possible to sit with your back to the wall from the back of the room, position yourself left or right of the door, but not close enough to attract attention, and make it by a window, because that way, if a gun toting nutter comes in, you have a chance of smashing through the window to make your escape.

When you are in a theatre, try and sit and the end of the aisles on the outside edges, preferably near an emergency exit sign.

No matter how many times you have been there and are familiar with the territory, don’t let down your guard, especially when approaching your vehicle. Make sure you look all around you before you take out your keys or open your car boot, as this is a feeding ground for the scumbag criminals, and you are shopping so they know you probably have credit cards, valuables, cash, or even keys for your car.

Places to steer clear of when parking the car. Corners of car parks with no escape routes, walking up dead-end roads with only walkways as a way out that you are not familiar with, flats

If you or your children are going to be travelling abroad during their gap year, make sure they are well prepared on the psychological and physical elements of self defence and staying safe.

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