10 tips for staying safe while travelling
It pays to be extra watchful while on holiday
Travelling does carry a risk of you being tricked, robbed or scammed, with the holiday ruined in the process.
Since most crimes that target travellers are crimes of opportunity, preventing the opportunity from arising in the first place is often a good deterrent.
The next time you are going on a holiday, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind.
DON'T SLEEP IN AIRPORTS
It may be tempting to switch off and relax in a cosy corner in the transit area once you have completed your check-in at the airport. But you may be targeted for theft, or some pervert might take photos of you while you are sleeping, or you may even be marked for a drug plant.
If you absolutely have to take a nap, be sure to take turns resting (if you have travel companions).
Otherwise, choose a resting place with high people traffic. Or whip out your credit card and see if you are eligible for entry into the transit lounge.
BEWARE OF THEFT ON PLANES
While this is relatively difficult to pull off, it does still happen, especially on long haul or red-eye flights.
As a general rule, keep your passport, money and other valuables on your person at all times - even when you go to the toilet.
If you must keep your stuff in the overhead stowaway, make sure your carry-on is secure and lockable. Invest in a good travel bag with sturdy locks and cut-resistant material.
USE YOUR ROOM SAFE
Remember that throughout the duration of your stay, others will still have access to your hotel room or Airbnb accommodations, so it is always a good idea to keep your valuables in the safe if your room comes with one - and be creative with your passcode.
When you are going out for the day, take only what you need and lock up the rest, especially identification documents.
CHECK FOR HIDDEN CAMERAS
Yes, it is a pain, but you should definitely conduct a sweep for spy cams in your room as soon as you gain entry.
Firstly, you can check for radio frequencies (RF) using an RF scanner that will tell you if any hidden devices are operating and/or transmitting.
Secondly, you can search for the telltale camera lens that all spy cams have. To do this, plunge your room into complete darkness, then look carefully for any unexplained LEDs.
Next, use a torch light or your mobile phone's light and do a complete sweep of your room - you will want to check for the reflections that hidden lenses give off.
Thirdly, physically investigate. Some of the most likely places are objects or decorative items that can be easily picked up and positioned.
Others include smoke detectors, appliances, wall hooks and even behind mirrors.
DOUBLE-LOCK YOUR DOOR AND CHECK YOUR WINDOWS
Most hotel rooms should have a security lock that you activate by twisting a knob or switch.
At the very least, you should be provided with a door-chain. If you are staying at an Airbnb, you can ask your host to provide an extra padlock.
And do not forget to close and lock your windows before you go out or retire for the night.
LEAVE KEYCARD AT RECEPTION
Otherwise, if your pocket gets picked or you lose it, you run the risk of having your room ransacked by whoever picks it up - especially so if you also lose the paper envelope with your room number written on it.
USE RIDE HAILING APPS OR REGISTERED TAXIS
Grab, Uber or any other established ride-hailing service offers the safest option for getting about.
The vehicles ferrying you are tracked, and you can send out an emergency alert through the app on your phone if necessary.
Your next best bet is to stick to registered taxis, which you can check on with nearby security guards or police.
CHANGE OR WITHDRAW MONEY ONLY AT BANKS
If you are short on local cash, you should go straight to the bank to change money or withdraw more. This way, you will avoid any number of scams that moneychangers have been known to use to target vulnerable tourists.
Also, you can never be sure if the ATMs located outside petrol kiosks have been tampered with.
KEEP VALUABLES HIDDEN
Keep your wallet in a front pocket and sling your bag in front.
Use your mobile phone only when necessary. It is a good idea to duck into a convenience store or relatively crowded shop before taking your phone out.
Be sure to stash your shiny new DSLR camera safely in its camera bag until you are ready to take photos.
And if you are going out partying, leave excess cash and flashy jewellery behind.
Go cashless whenever possible, and never leave your drink unattended. When in doubt, order a new drink.
DON'T USE PUBLIC WI-FI
If you find yourself needing to login to your e-mail, bank account or work account, never do so using public Wi-Fi hot spots as scammers can intercept data sent over them.
You are not safe in your hotel lobby either - the Wi-Fi provided there is usually an open network, which means you are taking on the same kind of risks. Wait until you login to your in-room Wi-Fi and always connect through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security.
This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)