A good traveler is one that informed and prepared to avert any incidents of theft that they may encounter while on the road. Getting mugged while backpacking is sadly a common tale from one unprepared backpacker to the next. The fear of getting mugged shouldn’t hinder you from traveling to the places you want to go, because crime is inevitable, anywhere.
The best you can do for yourself is to be informed on how to prevent being a target of such crimes. We also got mugged once in Malaysia…Here are a few tips that can help you stay safe on your next trip.
How to Avoid Getting Mugged While Backpacking
Don’t put your credit cards and all your cash all in one wallet
BEST TRAVEL WALLET. Separate your credit cards away from your cash.
It’s wise to keep them in separate places in case you lose your wallet, or if you do end up getting pick-pocketed or mugged. This way, at least you aren’t totally left with nothing, and you have a backup card and emergency cash stashed in a safer location with you still.
Some backpackers even carry around a fake wallet with a few bills and old expired credit cards, along with a fake phone just in case they run into some trouble.
Most thieves will just want your wallet and phone, so this is a good way to protect you and your valuables.
Always be aware of your surroundings.
Remember that crime can happen anywhere, so when you’re out and about exploring a new city, your senses should always be heightened. If you’re walking, always check if there are any people in your vicinity who look suspicious, or if you are being followed.
It can be quite difficult to peel your eyes away from the beautiful scenery, but don’t put your guard down while doing so. If you’re in a crowded area or an area that’s known for being unsafe, keep your phone away.
Being fully present while exploring will not only make you appreciate the place you are in more, but will also prevent you from attracting any thieves.
Don’t look like you have money
That doesn’t mean you have to dress poorly, but this just means to dress in such a way that doesn’t make you look like a walking target for theft. Keep jewelry to a minimum (or none at all), dress appropriately, and don’t flaunt gadgets and valuables. It’s best if you dress like a local, not like a tourist.
Have a companion, or stay in groups
Muggers will mostly target travelers that are alone. If you’re a solo traveler, this might be a challenge. But if you do plan to explore an area that’s notorious for crime, it’s best to find a companion to go with. You can make some friends in the hotel/hostel you’re staying in, and propose to go as a group.
Walk in the opposite direction as traffic
When walking in an unsafe area, it’s best you walk against traffic. This way, you can see if any potential danger might be coming your way (like, if someone pulls up and abducts you), and you’ll feel much safer seeing what’s coming towards your way.
Keep your bag in front of you, and away from the curb
Motorbike thefts are common especially in developing countries. They target people whose bags are located on the side where they can grab it easily as they speed off. Keep your bag tucked away from the side of the road, and it’s best if you can place it in front of you.
This tip is applicable for those who use shoulder bags and sling bags. A safer option for travel bags you can use while sightseeing are crossover body bags which you can sling over to the front side of your body, and money belts where you can store your credit cards and cash in on the front of your waist.
Do your research and know which places to avoid
This can be as easy as doing a quick Google search before heading out for sightseeing, or ask advice from your hotel or hostel’s staff for safety tips and places that must be avoided. More often than not, they will be happy to help you and will give you valuable advice.
Also, it goes without saying that you should avoid going to alleys and streets that are poorly lit, look suspicious, and have little to no people as these areas are usually the perfect setting for muggings to take place.
Look like you know where you are going
Always walk with confidence, even if you don’t know exactly where you are. Muggers like to target people who look unsure and lost. If you openly show this vulnerability, the more these criminals will see as an easy target.
It’s good practice to research the place you are going before heading out, so you have a general idea of how to get there. If you need to check your map or directions on your phone’s map, choose a safe location to do so. Worst Hotel Experience
10 Ways To Get Yourself Mugged While Backpacking
Or if you prefer – here is a nice list of 10 things to avoid doing – do the opposite and keep yourself safer while out on the road visiting all those fun new places around the world.
1. Always carry too much stuff (bags etc.) for too long even when it isn’t necessary. If you have a big, wide, heavy backpack on your back and both hands busy holding some other bags, you’re a piece of cake for muggers.
2. Wander aimlessly around town and look like you’re lost – add a big city map for extra attention.
3. Act and dress like a tourist to make yourself an easy target
4. Carry and always be seen reading your Lonely Planet guide in public.
5. Walk alone at night in dark, empty streets – one person is much easier to mug than two, especially on empty dark streets where there is nobody to witness it.
6. Get drunk, and walk around alone preferably lost – when drunk you’re weaker, have slower reactions, and have no control over your body – You’re a mugger’s dream!
7. Wear expensive or expensive-looking clothes with big known label flashing – that’s a perfect way of expressing ”I like to spend triple the amount of money on the same t-shirt only to get that crocodile (Lacoste) figure on my chest! I’m a walking juicy fat two-legged wallet”
8. Avoid groups of two or more people and walk in dark alleys and side street at night.
9. Carry a Fanny Pack around your waist or neck on top of all clothes – that’s like yelling out loud ”I have gathered all my most precious belongings; pass, money, credit cards and camera in one and the same place right on top of everything. Just come and get it!”
10. And lastly… please see the humor (and warnings) in this post – learn from mine and others mistakes and make sure you take care of yourself while out traveling in the ‘big bad world’ – common sense REALLY is king! 🙂
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid getting mugged while backpacking. However, if you do feel threatened and your suspicion is aroused, look for any police around the vicinity, or duck inside a store for safety and seek for help.