While it’s common for travelers to focus their concerns on violent crime, kidnapping or terrorism, the most common crimes abroad are petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and non-violent theft.
In a foreign culture, it is more challenging to read situations and to assess risks to your physical safety than it is at home.
Learn about the cultural and political environments of the countries you visit to reduce your risk of exposure to crime.
- How do locals view travelers from the U.S.? How should this affect your behavior?
- What are people’s attitudes about gender relations, race, sexuality, etc., and how are they reflected in local laws?
Consider modifying daily activities that may put you at risk.
- Is there something, like jogging or staying at the library late, that you do here which might not be as safe abroad?
- What should you think about/research before doing these same things abroad, or should you perhaps not do them abroad?
Accept that you may be perceived as wealthy, even if you are not.
- Would displaying your iPhone, iPad or other expensive electronic devices put you at risk for theft?
- What steps can you take to be discreet with your devices, especially when out and about?
- What measures can you take in your residence to store valuables securely?
Recognize that certain types of clothing or accessories could increase your risk of crime.
- When traveling in location where anti-American sentiments are present, would wearing college sweatshirts or baseball caps invite unwanted attention?
Understand that traveling in countries where women are more modestly dressed for religious, cultural or societal reasons may require changing your own manner of dress.
- Is it considered inappropriate in this location for women to wear shorts, camisole tops, leggings, short skirts, or tight-fitting clothing?
Trust your instincts to help keep you safe.
- What types of specific situations would make you feel uncomfortable or seem out of the ordinary?
- Are you worried about encountering any specific unsafe or uncomfortable situations abroad?
When in a situation that feels dangerous, always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. Your safety is more important that hurting someone’s feelings!