When you’re in a familiar town, life can be pretty easy and predictable, considering the fact that you’ve very likely gotten to know many of the variables of the city, which parts of town to avoid, and take logical steps to mitigate risk. But what happens when you’re in an unfamiliar town?
Basic things like not making calls or texting on your phone while walking in public can help with maintaining your situational awareness, but the variance of unfamiliar locations can provide challenges while traveling.
Jon Gaffney, lifestyle traveler and blogger/photographer recently posted about his and his wife’s year-long road trip. In his article, Gaffney discusses how they traveled from Maine to Northern California, continuously redefining and tailoring their situational awareness and operational security along the way. From his article, we’ve compiled 5 tips for maintaining situational awareness while traveling:
1. Be Cognizant of Social Media
We all know what posting our address, location and daily itinerary can lead to from a safety standpoint, but being cognizant of what you post on social media is especially important to avoid when traveling. A post from the road alerts others not only to your current location, but also informs them that you’re not at home.
We recommend keeping posts general to an area you’re in and lag your posts by a few days so it’s not live from your current locale. As they say, a moving target is rarely a soft one. Even small counter measures are better than none.
2. If You Feel Uncomfortable, Keep Moving
Finding a place to stay after long day is usually the last thing you want to do while traveling. The closest bed and breakfast may be the one you want to stop at, but if it feels wrong, don’t stay. Why risk it? You might lose a little sleep in the short term as you find a better option, but it’s better than a night of restless sleep where you’re perking up at every sound. Prudence is always worth the peace of mind.
3. Talk to the Locals and Be Polite to a Fault
Most locals are an invaluable resource that want you to enjoy your experience in their town. Check in at visitors centers and get recommendations. When you find a coffee shop or bar you like, tip well and talk to the bartender or barista. Ask them where to go, or if there are places best to avoid. Doing this will allow you to figure a place out quicker and enjoy your stay that much more.
4. Secure Your Valuables: Don’t Flaunt What You Have
It’s classless to do so wherever you are, but sometimes it can be dangerous. When all your belongings are in a vehicle or suitcase, this is especially important. Keep important things stowed safely and out of sight. Always double check the locks on your vehicle and if someone starts showing undue interest in you or what you have, it’s time to refer to my second point and move along.
5. Take Advantage of Google Street View
Last but not least, if you are going to be staying at or travelling through a location that you have never been before, take a few minutes to look at the area with street view. Look at the type of people walking down the road, look for gang graffiti and steel bars on windows. It’s not hard to pick out the safer locations from the ones you are likely to take a stray round or get mugged at.
While these tips aren’t anywhere close to being ground-breaking, it’s helpful to keep them in mind the next time you head out for a trip. Safe travels!