Traveling can create life-long memories and even change your worldview, but that doesn't mean you won't encounter unsafe situations. You shouldn't let the possibility of danger keep you from experiencing your travels in a fun way, but you do need to be aware of the reality of any location you wish to travel to. Even the nicest of areas can have unfriendly people and dark corners. London is a great example of this. If you're visiting soon and wondering how to stay safe, here are some tips.
1. Take Reliable Transportation
London is a big city, and getting around can get expensive and confusing quickly. Your best course of action is to research your transportation options before you get there. If you can't accurately identify a city cab, you could get taken for an expensive ride, or worse. Taking the Underground is a more affordable solution, but it is easy to get lost and wind up alone in a car or on a platform late at night. If you travel with a travel company, they often provide guided transportation, which can take some of the guesswork out. Vehicles equipped with fleet GPS tracking devices can be tracked at all times
2. Don't Travel Alone
Traveling alone can be a transforming experience, but it can also make you a target for unsavory people. People in groups are often too much trouble for some criminals to target, and having even one friend with you makes it harder for someone to sneak up behind you. It's bad when you're out late and your phone dies, but when there's more than one person in your group, there's a better chance that someone will still have a battery or charger at hand. Plus, even if you get lost, the memory will hopefully be funny instead of a horror story.
3. Plan Ahead
One of the best ways to facilitate your safety is to plan your moves ahead of time. It's easier than ever to get information online like travel options, opening times for restaurants or tourist attractions, and reviews for experiences you want to have. Make sure you're wearing proper clothing, have directions to all the things you want to see, and have planned travel routes for all of them. Needing to catch a last minute cab or spending time lost in shady streets is time you spend potentially vulnerable. In addition, think about who you can contact in case things go wrong. Have police numbers for emergencies and the number of any places you're planning on visiting.
4. Stay Alert
Even people who live in London can get robbed if they're not paying attention. Stay alert to your surroundings at all times, but don't let it keep you from enjoying yourself. Take in all the sights and experiences, but don't wander around with headphones in. If an area looks unsafe, reconsider your travel route to a brighter, busier area. If you're traveling alone, don't drink so many pints that you struggle to get back to the hostel alone.
5. Don't Look Like a Tourist
If you don't want to be targeted like a tourist, don't present yourself like one. Research current style trends or go shopping when you land. Tourists with big backpacks, cameras, and traveling clothes that talk about taking out cash or trading in currency scream out to criminals. Even if you don't blend in seamlessly, don't talk about the cash you have on you, and don't be too vocal about where you're staying or your plans for the day. Tourists can be distracted easily with their gear, or all the sights, making them very easy to steal from under the right conditions.
London is one of the greatest cities in the world. It's full of culture and history that everyone should get to experience, but it isn't without its faults, either. With a little planning, you can safely and comfortably enjoy your trip.