Stay Safe: Travelers and Expats
My editorial this month addresses safety when traveling, and can be applied if living abroad. Costa Rica is said to be safe and the people are friendly. Well, the reality is that Costa Rica is part of the world, and is not sheltered from the many crimes that are prevalent in other countries. This is not bashing Costa Rica. It is a warning to travelers, as well as expats, to be vigilant.
You can’t ignore the risk of crime as a traveler, or even expats living here.
When you travel to a foreign country, the last thing you want to think about is the risk of crime. Unfortunately, crime is a reality that travelers must face, and it can come in many forms. From petty theft to violent crime, no traveler is immune to the possibility of becoming a victim. In some countries, like Costa Rica, the crime rate is growing and travelers must take extra precautions when they visit. You can’t ignore the risk of crime as a traveler and what you can do to stay safe.
The world is getting more dangerous, not less.
Traveling the world has become easier and more accessible than ever, but with that comes an unfortunate rise in criminal activity targeting unsuspecting travelers. Don’t be a stupid traveler or expat, inviting problems by attracting unwanted attention. Tourists are easy targets for criminals. It’s essential to take precautions and understand the risks associated with travel to ensure your safety.
Tourists are easy targets.
Stupid travelers and expats often make themselves easy targets for criminals. They don’t know the area, the customs, or the dangers of the destination, so they can be quickly taken advantage of. Tourists are usually more trusting and have more valuables than the locals, making them a desirable target for pickpockets and thieves. Tourists often carry more cash, wear more expensive jewelry, and don’t understand how to identify dangerous situations, making them easy targets.
Additionally, they are often too trusting of strangers and may not take proper safety precautions while traveling. This makes them an easy mark for people with malicious intent.
Educate yourself on the crime rate before you travel and make sure you know what areas you should avoid. If you’re heading to places such as Central America, where robbery is particularly common, be extra cautious when walking around and avoid carrying large amounts of money.
When at bars or nightclubs, never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers; these scenarios can lead to dangerous situations such as date rape drugs. Don’t be foolish enough to think you are not a target for crime. Remember, even seemingly safe destinations can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.
While trusting locals is natural when you’re in a foreign country, it’s important to remember that some unscrupulous individuals may try to take advantage of you. Keep your guard up in busy tourist areas; those areas tend to attract criminals.
Be aware of your surroundings.
When traveling, it’s important to be aware of who is around you and what they may be up to. You should always stay alert and be conscious of your surroundings. Don’t keep your money out on a counter in your hotel room or your home. Be extra careful with your passports and identification cards.
Always take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe from theft and any other crime. Don’t leave your doors unlocked or even open, even if you feel like the area you’re in is safe.
Refrain from posting things on social media that give away your plans, or letting people know where you are going and for how long.
Selling items and giving out your location can make you a target for crime. Taking such risks puts yourself and your possessions in danger.
Recently I heard of a couple that had been coming to Costa Rica for a few months every year for a while. They decided to sell their stuff and started posting online that they would be returning home soon. They gave a date of their departure on their ads listing the items they were selling.
Well, needless to say, they got robbed. They were held at gunpoint and the cash they had laid out on the counter was taken, along with some other small items like a necklace. The vehicle they had for sale was also stolen. My friend who reported the incident to me told me the victims left the doors open at night. Easy targets are created by unawareness and just downright stupidity.
You’re more likely to be a victim of a crime if you’re traveling solo.
When traveling alone, you become a much easier target for criminals. Without the support of friends and family, you may find yourself in a situation that puts you at risk. Unfortunately, tourists have been robbed in Costa Rica, and elsewhere, by inviting problems and attracting unwanted attention.
As a solo traveler, you need to be extra vigilant to protect yourself. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t take unnecessary risks, and trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. Have a contingency plan in place in case of an emergency.
Personal attacks, such as assault and sexual assault, can occur even in the most tourist-friendly areas. Women, in particular, are at risk for such attacks, especially if they travel alone. This means it’s important for women to be aware of their surroundings and trust their gut when traveling, especially if they’re solo.
Theft is not the only issue.
When you think of crime, theft is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, theft is far from the only crime travelers face. Personal attacks, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes are all too common in certain parts of the world. Even in Costa Rica, violent crimes are becoming more frequent.
Kidnapping is another dangerous crime that is becoming more common in certain regions. Tourists are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, making them vulnerable to kidnappers who demand large ransoms.
Hate crimes are another issue that travelers must be aware of. There have been numerous incidents of tourists being attacked or harassed due to their race, religion or nationality, and even not being able to speak the local language.
Trust your gut
The best way to protect yourself from crime when you travel is to trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. If you don’t feel comfortable in a certain area, leave.
Finally, always have a contingency plan in case something happens. Have emergency contacts who you can call for help, and keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Don’t let yourself become an easy target for criminals. Stay safe, be smart, and don’t take unnecessary risks.
Your gut feeling is often the best indicator of danger. Pay attention to any warning signs that you may be in danger and act accordingly.
Don’t let fear hold you back from taking trips and exploring new places, but use caution and common sense to stay safe on your travels.