For many, the thought of traveling to another country can be daunting. The truth is there are risks anywhere in the world - even your home town. It is important that while traveling you use common sense to ensure your safety.
Opportunistic theft of personal belongings, passports and travel documents is usually one of the main problems. As in many developing countries, street crime can occur but volunteers can reduce the likelihood that it will affect them by following a few guidelines. You should remain vigilant and avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night. You should take care when using web cafes and similar services as thieves operate in places where people are easily distracted.
Be particularly careful when arriving at International airports. Unwary passengers may be approached by people who pretend to know them or by bogus taxi drivers or tour operators. If you have arranged an airport pick up you should wait for the local contact, don’t go with anyone else and don’t let anyone carry your bags. If you do not have an airport pick up ensure you follow our instructions for getting to the NGOs office.
Be discreet with expensive items and money. For a start, do not travel with jewellery and don’t wave cash or credit cards around. Use them discreetly and put them away as quickly as possible. Most volunteers never experience any trouble and as long as you stay alert and use common sense you should not have any problems.
Try your best to blend in, and even if you take a wrong turn, always act like you know where you’re going. Of course, it is always best to plan travel in advance. If you travel on overnight buses or trains you should keep your valuables (money, passports, credit cards etc.) in a safe place (or on you) while you sleep.
It is recommended to carry a copy of your passport and visa with you at all times.
Ways you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim:
- Where possible stay in a group, especially if traveling at night.
- Avoid street money-changers.
- Watch your belongings carefully at all times.
- If possible lock valuable belongings, passports, and travel documents in hotel safes and ensure you retain control of the key.
- Be vigilant when using buses. Thieves can be good at distracting a target so it is best to keep valuable close to you rather than in the luggage areas.
- Be particularly watchful of your valuables at the beach or in popular tourist areas.
- Avoid leaving your drink unattended in bars and do not accept drinks from strangers.
- Despite these warnings about theft, the most dangerous part of life in developing countries is driving. Always where your seat belt, don’t feel embarrassed to ask you driver to slow down, and if you feel uncomfortable ask to get out (preferably in a busy, well-lit area).
- Do your research. There are a huge number of online resources that offer specific information. See the links below.
- United States www.travel.state.gov
- United Kingdom www.fco.gov.uk/travel
- Canada www.voyage.gc.ca
- Australia www.smarttraveller.gov.au
- New Zealand www.mft.govt.nz