Every year thousands of young people from Briton set off backpacking in search of adventure, excitement and freedom. According to statistics almost a third of British people who travel abroad independently are likely to face a major problem while they are away.
Whilst we we’re backpacking in South America we we’re in someways unlucky to be mugged but in some ways lucky to make it home safely without any really big problems.
The best advice I can give is to be sensible, but also make sure you don’t listen to all the horror stories you hear or you will never leave your hostel room.
Heres a few basic points of advice from the Foreign Office. Most of which are common sense:
- Keep in touch with friends/family – So easy to do in this day and age, there were only a very few places that we traveled that had no access to the internet or telephone.
- Use a guidebook – You may think its hard to get away from the tourist trail if your basing your trip on the Lonely Plant or any of the other guide books but being prepared can help prevent you getting in trouble. They can be vital for providing maps when you first get into cities, allow you to be prepared before you arrive and be aware of scams and no go areas.
- Avoid unlit streets – obviously, but especially true in South American cities.
- Leave valuables in guest house – if you haven’t got valuable possessions to worry about you’ll be able to relax and have a much better time. I do have some regrets for not taking my camera with me but if i had taken it with me it would probably have been nicked. Sods law and all that.
- Carry minimum amount of cash – Obviously don’t carry all you cash with you, we used a Nationwide Debit card as there on of the few who don’t charge you for transactions abroad. We found Travelers cheques increasingly useless though they were of use in some of the more remote areas. Do make sure you have some money though, if someone does try and mug you they may get pissed off if you have nothing to give them. We always had a ‘dummy wallet’ with small change and any more kept in a money belt. Theres nothing more obvious than going to pay for a snack in a market then sticking your hands down your pants flicking through wads of cash.
- Never resist violent theft – When we were mugged we felt like we should have put up a fight (we did struggle at first before coming to our senses). My advice is its only material things, nothing in your bag is worth risking your life for. Get insurance then it wont mater!
- If hitchhiking do so in pairs and avoid hitchhiking at night – I don’t think its a very good idea wether in a pair or not.
- Do not tell strangers where you are staying – Had that a few times, obviously well dodgy, just say you cant remember!