Safe travel - and our influence on doing so

How we can increase safety when traveling with our own behavior. From holidays to world trips - we can definitely influence safety on the go.

How can we make our travel safer? What influence can we have ourselves, apart from the usual precautions on the security situation? Self-defence courses and Bear spray are not the only things we can contribute.

We have already addressed the issue of safety on journeys several times. But so far we have never addressed the fact that often we travellers can also make our contribution. I don't want to claim that we can cushion everything, but often we can influence the course of events with our reaction.

Anything can happen on a long journey, the question is how we deal with it if the worst happens. De-escalating early, being firm in the right place - both can help.

When travelling abroad, there is often also the language barrier, which does not make communication easier in the event of a dispute.

Especially when travelling around the world, I think it helps to really think about roadblocks, a robbery, a burglary etc. in theory.

"What if", to deal with how one could behave, which behaviour could lead to which reactions. To agree on what behaviour would make sense as a couple, for example.

I don't want to judge here, but I want to give you a few examples. It is important to put these in relation to the large number of travellers - these are the few outliers that can be found. As a rule, we mainly find vehicle break-ins - in the absence of the travellers. 

We should also always try to put ourselves in the travellers' shoes, they were in the middle of it, were scared/adrenalin-fuelled - and didn't have much time to think about it. It seems to me that theoretical preparation is all the more important, trying to be able to react thoughtfully in the event of such an incident.

An incident in Peru

Rarely has an incident been discussed and documented in such detail. The travellers antagonised the locals, refused to show their papers, tried to flee. It totally escalated, according to the semi-official sequence of events.



How we can increase safety when traveling with our own behavior. From holidays to world trips - we can definitely influence safety on the go.

Since over 15K in donations were raised and supporting bloggers on the ground never received any proof, there is a corroborated scam suspicion here. 

I can at least prove the break-in of my vehicle quite easily, so the suspicion in this case definitely remains in my eyes too.... 

Links: DailymailElcomercioPlanetJacksonHoleFoxnews 

Under fire in Angola 

Here, the travellers were startled by armed people not in uniform, and their escape ended with gunfire and a shot brake line.


A death in DR Congo

Here travellers were ambushed, the altercation unfortunately ended fatally for one of the travellers.

What can we learn from these incidents? How can we prepare for something like this?

It is important to focus on what is important. Our lives, our health, our possessions and our memorabilia such as photos, etc. It is never worth risking your health or life over possessions. Being prepared for a write-off may help you to react more prudently later on.

Documents: Let a policeman or mayor collect them temporarily. This can be dealt with later in a relaxed manner with the tourist police or at a police station, a translator can be found, no one is upset - and no matter where in the world - the delicate official will have more trouble than you, who may lose 1-2 days of travel in the process. Therefore, no official is really interested in withholding the papers. That's why I don't make laminated copies of documents in the first place. 

Backup: A small backup plan with copies of documents, but also of your photos and electrical data is helpful. If you know you are only going to lose today's photos, you may be more confident.  I always carry the encrypted backup memory card(s) in my pocket when I travel. Knowing how to get the originals back even if you lose all your documents can also help you stay more relaxed. 

Possessions: The amount of cash should be such that you would not risk too much for it. Valuables can be insured for the Swiss, for example, via household insurance. If you would simply risk everything for your vehicle, a delayed immobiliser, GPS tracking and also fully comprehensive insurance will help.

Our travel vehicles are usually not very useful for the locals, as we usually drive exotic vehicles in the eyes of the locals. Thefts tend to happen within the EU or the USA - and not on international long-distance journeys. Even as a very attentive reader, there are no examples of this on international journeys.

And even worst-case scenarios are financially quite manageable. In the case of the vehicle break-in in my travel vehicle, the insurance also covered the "UPS/DHL 2 business day international Express" costs for the replacement, which also led to new hardware, among other things. Whether this is "normal" or because it was the first incident in my entire insurance history, I cannot judge.

Behaviour: On international long-distance trips there will be many nights outside the protection of guesthouses, hostels or campsites - because there is no such infrastructure in rural areas. 

When travelling, it is worthwhile either to seek contact (and protection) from locals in the evening or to avoid them altogether. I.e. first ask where you can stay overnight if this is OK. In this way, you also expose yourself a little to the community. What things the locals consume, what disputes are going on, what pressure the residents are under, you are in the middle of it. 

Ask early enough to be able to leave when you notice that your presence is not only a pleasure. 

Always look for a place for the night during daylight, because you can see the surroundings and others can assess you if you ask to spend the night there, for example. 

At the very least, you should be able to explain your origin, the number of people and your next destination in the local language or with your hands and feet. 

It is important that the rural inhabitants can get a picture of you. You should also dedicate at least part of the evening to the locals, tell them about your journey, give them a small gift, etc. I often regretted that I only had chocolate or beer/wine available as a gift, as the "better half" sometimes did not approve of alcohol. 

Often you are integrated into the farm or the village, they walk through with you, show you the stables or invite you for a meal. The insights are exciting but also very exhausting without language skills. 

Or you can go wild camping and look for a secluded spot in the countryside, which is often the safer and quieter option in my opinion. Personally, I start looking for a suitable place to sleep about 2 hours before sunset.

And yes, if the landowner (?) arrives at 0 o'clock because the campfire has disturbed him too much, then the tone of the discussion will be rough. Whether your presence is disturbing or whether he is worried about you may not be clarified in time due to the language barrier. This happened to me twice, it helps if you can at least declare yourself as a tourist and a European - and remain friendly. Learning curve - study the 1x1 of wildcamping again ;-) A wild camp site is really quiet - if no one knows you are there.

In urban areas I often camped in city centres near parks, because this seemed safer than in the suburbs, where you couldn't really stand apart. 

In remote areas (and not only in the Third World), it is quite possible that officials such as police or border guards are also in civilian clothes. Judging whether someone wants to chum up as a fixer ("I'll sort it out for you for a fee") or wants to check you - will develop with the duration of the trip. 

If you have secured and prepared yourself in this way, you may react more calmly in a delicate situation. With these lines I don't want you to hand over the car keys to everyone when they shout at you - but that you react more prudently overall.

Don't let these lines unsettle you, the probability of such an incident is very, very low. Nevertheless, I am glad that I have brought this rather difficult topic to the table. We should always keep an eye on the security situation of our destinations, this is part of the preparations.

You may also be interested in the following links: