Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who to Avoid When Travelling

We’ve all heard the stories. A great vacation takes a sharp turn for the worse with a confrontation that ends in robbery or violence. Although you should be aware of any particular location-related dangers while traveling, you should also be aware of your surroundings. Criminals are predators, and, as such, are often looking for the easiest target. If you look like an outsider – a tourist or vacationer, for example – you may become a target. There are a few simple things that you can do to maintain your awareness of your surroundings and decrease the likelihood that you may become the victim of a crime.

1) Look for People Who Don’t Belong. Even if you find yourself in an unfamiliar country with an unfamiliar culture, it may still be possible for you to spot the people who look out of place, as if they're watching the crowd, looking for foreigners who might make unsuspecting targets.

2) Trust your gut. Humans are equipped with intuition as a way to keep us safe from danger. If you feel uncomfortable there may be a reason. Don’t dismiss your feeling as nerves out of hand, even though it's certainly possible that you may be going through culture shock and other adjustments as you navigate through a foreign area.

3) Watch the attitudes and activities of the locals. While traveling, whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, keep an eye on the attitude of the locals. If the locals don’t seem to be bothered by a potentially suspicious person, than it’s probably reasonable to not worry as much. Those who live there know which people look out of place in their environment. Locals may steer clear of, or avoid making eye contact with, suspicious people.

4) Watch the actions of those around you. Security personnel look for tell-tale tipoffs, like pacing or constantly searching. If someone is acting like they are nervous, it's probably for a specific reason. Those who are loitering, especially around parking lots or other areas that do not invite lingering, may also be suspicious.

5) Notice clothing. Especially in stores and shopping malls, hooded sweatshirts, baggy clothing, and large backpacks tip-off security guards that someone may be trying to hide stolen goods. The same methods can be used to conceal drugs or weapons. Hoods and hats also serve the purpose of making the wearer harder to identify after the fact.

Though traveling in unfamiliar locales can make you a target, luckily there is something you can do about it. Do your best to follow the local customs so that you blend in, and keep your eye out for anything or anyone that looks suspicious. If you do spot someone who looks out of place, it’s best not to look as though you are frightened of them, as that will only make you look more like easy prey. Keep your shoulders set back and your hands out of your pockets. If you walk with your head down and hands in your pockets, you are demonstrating a submissive posture that is often interpreted as weak. Keep your distance. If an individual seems to be getting too close to you try to escape or try to contact someone nearby. Consider carrying a personal alarm or pepper spray, if it's allowed at your destination.

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