Backpacking will always be popular with young people, giving many their first taste of true freedom and the chance to explore new lands and experience new cultures. Unfortunately, backpackers will always be a popular target for criminals.
Backpackers tend to be young people out on their own for the first time, in a foreign country with no local knowledge and usually nothing more than a basic grasp of the lingo, and are usually carrying cameras, phones and a decent amount of cash. As such they are regularly targeted by thieves, fraudsters and scammers.
While this should not put anyone off a backpacking experience, it is wise to take precautions, and be aware of what the most common problems are when travelling.
First of all, try not to appear too flash when travelling. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash if you can, but if you must, keep it in separate wallets. Pulling out a thick wad of notes whenever you pay for something will make you very conspicuous. The same goes for camera and phones – use them whenever you want, but try and avoid having them on show unnecessarily in public spaces.
There are a number of common scams used on backpackers. Fake taxi services take advantage of a lack of local knowledge and can lead you to the wrong destination at inflated prices, while false currency exchange kiosks can leave you with counterfeit notes. It is also advisable to be wary of accepting unsolicited advice from strangers. Many ‘helpful’ locals have ulterior motives, and you may be pressured into buying services or good that you don’t want.
Of course, this is not always so easy, but try to avoid isolating yourself in unknown places, particularly at night. If you do find yourself in such a place, try and remain calm and swiftly make your way back to somewhere public before you begin looking at maps. If you are mugged, have your bank’s number to hand so you can quickly report cards missing and report the incident to the local police. Also, try and avoid confrontations with locals – not knowing their customs, you may find yourself being far more offensive than you had intended!
While you will want to factor enough time into your itinerary for unexpected opportunities and exploring, don’t be tempted to change your travel arrangements. Offers of assistance with crossing borders can be very dangerous, so plan all these in advance with reputable firms. Before flying out to begin your travels explore your booking companies’ website as they have plenty of guides that will prepare you.
While there are dangers to look out for when travelling abroad, don’t let worrying about them hamper the experience. By being prepared and vigilant you can still enjoy an unbelievable backpacking adventure.
Photo Credit: flickr user garryknight