SAFETY AND TRAVEL SCAMS

If you’re a first time traveller, it can be pretty daunting.  Safety is probably one of the first things you (and your family) will think about.   https://smartraveller.gov.au is an excellent site full of useful information including travel advices on what countries to avoid at any given time and those where you should practice caution.

Use your common sense! 

     Be aware of common overseas scams including the hiring of motorbikes, cars and jet skis.

     Take local advice seriously about unsafe areas.

     Familiarise yourself with laws and customs.

     Dress appropriately.  You may be required to cover head or shoulders in certain locations.

     Don’t carry or take drugs – some countries carry the death penalty!

     Avoid fights and if someone tries to start a fight with you, don’t retaliate and walk away. 

     Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking and obey warnings.

     Take hotel business cards with you when sightseeing as these will help in getting you back to the hotel if you get lost.

     Don’t hitchhike.

     Practise safe sex.

     Wear seatbelts even if they aren’t compulsory in the country you are visiting.

     If you take a taxi, sit in the back behind the driver.

     Always wear a helmet if riding a motorbike and don’t hand over your passport as a form of ID.  Either give them a photocopy or provide a different form of ID.

     Don’t leave your luggage unattended even for a moment.  Your luggage can disappear at the blink of an eye whilst you’re busy storing a piece of luggage in an overhead compartment.  Keep it in front of you.

     Don’t leave valuables in parked cars.  Most insurance companies will not cover items left unattended in any motor vehicle unless stored in the boot.  You won’t be covered if they’re left in a vehicle overnight, even if they’re in the boot.

     Beware of people offering to ‘help’ you with your luggage or who ask for assistance which will require you to put your bag down.

     Soft-sided bags are a real target for criminals as they’re easy to break into to either steal from you or place contraband. Best suitcases are hard-sided, latch-closed. Wrapping your luggage with saran or plastic wrap won’t protect it however you’ll be able to see whether it’s been tampered with when you retrieve it.

     Be wary of people inviting you to play card games.  You could end up losing a lot of money.

     Be careful if anyone (male or female) offers to buy you a drink or a meal. You could become the victim of robbery or sexual assault.

     Keep documents, money, etc in a zip pocket or in a money pouch around your waist.  Leg pouches are also a good idea.  Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets.

     Passports, tickets, valuables and other important documents are better left in hotel safes.

     Never show off wealth.  It’s not a good idea to take valuable jewellery on your trip.  In fact, you’re better off not taking any at all.  Tourists visiting South America have been known to have their earrings ripped from their ears.  Wear a cheap watch.

     Always make sure your credit card is imprinted in front of you.  Don’t let them take it away as it’s possible to transfer your card’s electronic strip to another card.

     Guides for women travelling alone are useful.

Where scams are concerned, some countries require more vigilance than others and you should research as much as you can.  Thailand is a favourite travel destination and unfortunately, scams are rife.  Google scams in the countries you intend visiting for a rundown of what to look out for.

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