Have you ever felt like someone was following you? Have you ever found yourself suddenly in a scary situation while walking on the streets late at night? Traveling by foot, car or public transit can be dangerous. Fortunately, a few basic strategies can help you ensure your safety and comfort. Follow these 10 tips to stay street smart whenever you travel.
1) Always Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings
Music, social media, news and more are right at our fingertips these days. However, looking at your phone or otherwise not paying attention to your surroundings is a bad idea. Practicing attentiveness is the single best thing you can do to keep yourself safe. Keep your head up and pay attention to your surroundings.
2) Present Yourself as Confident
Criminals and others with harmful intent look for easy targets. People who look lost, unsure or weak are at greater risk. Try to present yourself as confident and to look like you know what you are doing, even when you don’t. If you are lost, stop calmly in a populated area and look up or ask for directions. Then, confidently follow those directions.
3) Make Note of Police, Fire and Other Important Facilities
Making note of emergency services locations will enable you to get help when you need it. If you know where the nearby police station is, you can go there when you feel threatened. All you need to do is make a quick metal note when you pass by an important facility.
4) Stick to Well-Lit and Populated Areas
Try to avoid going in any dark and quiet areas, especially when walking by yourself. Again, criminals are looking for easy targets. It is much easier to get away with a mugging, for example, if there are no witnesses around. It is much better to take an extra few minutes on your route than to put yourself in danger with a secluded shortcut.
5) Carry Belongings Close to Your Body
Bag snatching is a common method of theft. The defense against this is very simple: keep your possessions under your firm control. Someone who wants to grab a purse and run, for example, is going to look for one that is left on the ground or in a loose grip. As with other tips above, making yourself a less obvious target can make all the difference in the world.
6) Park Near Other Cars and/or in Well-Lit Areas
If you are driving, try to always park near other vehicles and in a well-lit area. Obviously, you don’t want your car to be broken into. However, even more importantly, you want to be safe when you return to your vehicle later. If others can see you, you will be a less vulnerable target.
7) Always Lock Your Car and Close All Windows
When you are exiting your vehicle, lock the doors and close the windows. Do the same if you are waiting in a parking lot or secluded area. You and your belongings will be much more challenging targets if the criminal needs to get past your locks and windows.
8) Stay Away From Hitchhiking
Hitchhiking seems to present a romantic, no-nonsense way of getting around. However, whenever you pick up or ride with a stranger, you are at serious risk. Even someone who looks friendly may have dangerous intentions. Don’t hitchhike and don’t pick up hitchhikers. You only have to be wrong about one person for hitchhiking to turn ugly.
9) When Taking Public Transportation, Travel With a Buddy
Whenever possible, bring a travel companion with you on trains, subways and buses. This is especially important if you are riding unpopular lines or at sparsely traveled times. The risk is low on a rush hour, commuter train. However, that midnight trip to the end of the line may be dangerous. People in groups are always at a lower risk.
10) Don’t Go Home If You Are Being Followed
If you think you are being followed, you may be tempted to rush to the safety of home or work. However, anyone who is targeting you will simply make note of where you live and work. You may be exposing yourself further by trying to get to safety. Instead, head for the nearest public space for refuge. This may be an emergency services station or a populated restaurant.
Stay Smart Out There
These tips for being street smart will help you stay safe. Always trust your instincts. You don’t need special training to get a gut feeling that something isn’t right. If you get a bad feeling in your gut, get to a safe place and call for help. Always report suspicious activity.
If you feel consistently unsafe, consider hiring a private investigator to help. Whether you need to determine if someone is targeting you or need advice on protecting yourself, a PI can help you feel more at ease.