Whether you’re abroad or in your home country, you’re susceptible to theft.
Unless it’s too dangerous to visit, you don’t have to cancel your plant. However, you will want to mitigate anything bad from happening to you. That way, you can spend your time exploring a new culture and having a good time instead of worrying.
Throughout this guide, you will learn some of the most common issues that you may encounter when traveling to a dangerous country. Moreover, you will learn some ways and tips on how to prepare yourself when traveling to a dangerous country.
Common Issues That You May Encounter in a Dangerous Country
There are a lot more issues that you could run into while visiting another country, for instance, I shop charging you more money because you’re from a certain country. However, these are the most common issues you will likely encounter when visiting a dangerous country.
The place that you’re visiting may not have developed the roads. Moreover, they may have more traffic or more dangerous drivers than what you’re used to. Or, the laws in the country may not support pedestrians’ well-being.
Therefore, practice being aware of your surroundings whether you’re walking or renting a vehicle. If you’re driving, make sure that you’re a defensive driver. If you’re walking and crossing the road, ensure you always check every direction before crossing.
This type of theft includes scams, pickpocketing, or someone stealing your belongings that you accidentally left somewhere. This is likely the most common type of crime that you’ll run into in a dangerous country.
You may find a country that doesn’t have strict food sanitation rules, therefore you may find yourself having food poisoning the following night after eating some sketchy food.
No matter where you are in the world, there’s a potential to run into hackers. because of this, you’ll have people resorting to using whatever means possible to obtain your personal information so that they could sell it and places like the dark web.
8 Ways To Prepare Yourself for Traveling to a Dangerous Country
Before traveling to a country that you may find dangerous, you will want to first do as much research as possible. Otherwise, you won’t be prepared for what you’ll encounter. So, drive to section, I’ll cover certain things that you should research in addition to safeguards that you can do to protect yourself.
1. Mitigate Your Risks: Plan For the Unpredictable Ahead of Time
Explore the perspectives of expatriates and other travelers who visited the country that you’re traveling to. Figure out what problems they’ve encountered and what day they did to get themselves out of it and prevent anything worse from happening.
Moreover, you can explore the local’s perspective and see how they protect themselves from crime, unsanitary conditions, and whatever else you may encounter while in the country you’re visiting.
Plan for any scenario possible and figure out what steps you can take to mitigate or prevent it. For instance, you can minimize damage from theft by insuring your items. Or better store them to prevent thieves from stealing them.
2. Remain Alert About Your Surroundings but Don’t Panic
Anything can happen at any second, even when you are in an area that’s considered “safe”. So, pay attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for people staring at you and people walking very close to you.
If you happen to notice somebody following you on the street, make your weight toward a somewhat populated area. However, make sure there aren’t too many people, otherwise, someone could do something to you in the middle of a crowd without anyone knowing. The best way to protect yourself in this instance is to have enough people around you to notice if something happens.
Speaking of, if you’re in a crowd ensure you keep your hands in your pockets around your wallet or cell phone. Otherwise, someone could pickpocket you without you knowing. Never assume that anyone can’t pickpocket you. Because some people are very crafty with their hands.
Move over, you will want to make sure that you aren’t talking on the phone while watching. Because while you’re talking, you will find yourself distracted, which means that you won’t be able to detect any potential threats or anyone who will steal anything from you.
3. Secure Your Digital Information
You may find yourself in a country that doesn’t enforce cyber security laws, or you may find yourself on unsecured Wi-Fi. That’s why you must ensure you take the right precautions to protect yourself on the internet.
To protect yourself digitally, you will probably want to invest in software like a virtual private server (VPN), to hide your IP address. Moreover, suppose you are logging into any websites while traveling. In that case, you will want to make sure that nobody behind you is looking over your shoulder to see what login information you’re typing.
Here is some additional software that you can use to protect your data while abroad:
- Password manager: I recommend Bitwarden
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) applications and security keys: Yubikey plus the Yubico Authentication application for Time-based one-time password (TOTP) and hardware security keys or Aegis for only TOTP (mobile app)
- Email alias creator: go with Simplelogin or AnonAddy
Explore this guide that I wrote a while back to learn about other ways that you can protect your sensitive information while at home or abroad.
4. Remain in Contact With People You Know
Whether you’re talking to your family from your home country or friends, ensure that you set a specific time of the week to contact the person that you know and keep them up-to-date. Whether it’s just the chat or just keeping them updated with what’s been going on at where you’re traveling too.
This will keep your family or friends in the loop and let them know whether they should contact the authorities in the country that you’re in if you happen to go missing.
While setting up a time to contact someone you know, you will want to provide them with information such as your embassy or consulate’s phone number of the law, the authorities, and additional mediums they can use to contact you. For instance, your phone number in the country that you’re traveling to.
5. Enroll With Your Embassy and Stay Informed
If you don’t want to keep your eyes on the news all the time, you may want to consider enrolling with your Embassy in the country that you’re staying in.
For instance, if you are from the US you can sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) program and they will contact you regarding important information as to what’s going on within the country.
6. Plan How To Maintain a Low Profile
The last thing that you want is to have everyone know that you’re worth a lot of money. So, you must maintain a low profile. Some ways that you can maintain a low profile while abroad included:
Avoid areas where you’ll make yourself a target: these include protests and riots.
Blend in with the locals: don’t wear items that’ll make you stand out. For instance, don’t wear shorts when it’s snowing, unless the locals are doing the same. Moreover, don’t wear jewelry or expensive accessories like a Rolex—unless you’re in an upper-class area where everyone else is wearing the same items.
Always travel in a group at night. Wandering through the streets alone will make you a target. If you went to an event or venue at night, consider calling a taxi or a drive-share application.
Avoid locations that are targeted toward your country. For instance, avoid American-themed bars or clubs. Otherwise, doing so will make you stand out among the locals.
If you’re obnoxious when you’re drunk, reconsider getting plastered in public. Alternatively, pace yourself and remain in control of your motor skills and speech. Otherwise, you’ll bring too much attention to yourself.
Avoid breaking laws. Getting in trouble is a surefire way to let everyone know that you’re a foreigner and that you’re causing trouble, which could lead to worse situations in the future.
Do whatever you can to avoid fights or confrontations. Because if you find yourself fighting someone, their friends could come out of nowhere and take you out. Moreover, you’ll likely find yourself on the news and be known as a trouble maker.
7. Figure Out Your Transportation Ahead of Time
Research the public transportation available in the country you’re traveling to. That way, you will better understand what the pricing is like, what types of public transportation you should avoid, and the safest way to get around your country.
Some ways that you can research public transportation are to look into expat forms of the country that you’re going to, reach out to locals and ask them about their opinions and what they do, or consider contacting your government representatives in the country that you’re visiting for more information.
8. Pack Items To Protect Yourself
To avoid losing all your valuables, you will want to pack strategically. Therefore, you will want to create a packing list of what you should take and what to leave at home. Moreover, you want to figure out what you need to buy to protect yourself while traveling.
Some items that you can pack to protect yourself and your belongings include:
- Tracking devices: you can use these to track your belongings
- Copies of your documents: passport, driver’s license, itinerary, etc
- Door wedge and magnetic alarms: that way you can know whether someone has entered your room through a window or door
- Medication for food poisoning: antibiotics, diarrhea and fever medication, probiotics, and electrolyte powder
- RFID wallet and passport holder: to prevent Radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals from stealing your information
- Decoy wallet and cellphone: to prevent thieves from stealing your money and phone
- Taser: for self-defense; however, ensure they’re legal in the country you’re visiting
- Money belt: a backup storage solution for your cash
Don’t Stop Researching, Yet
There’s a lot more that goes into planning how to visit a dangerous country. However, this guide should give you a good start on what to research, how to prepare yourself, and some tips on how to keep yourself safe and mitigate any risks.