Search and You Shall Find in My World

27 April 2011

Travel precautions could save you

Summer in the Philippines is actually a school break and has less to do with the seasons. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, there are only two distinguishable seasons here- rainy (usually with monsoon rains) and sunny.

But nowadays, you could not even make a distinction between the two seasons.

Since most of the family members are on vacation, it is during summer that people travel. Go to exotic places, or visit relatives, or attend fiestas which are happening almost everywhere during this time. The whole month of May is in fact, fiesta time for the island of Bohol. They say my province would sink a few inches because every Boholano comes home on May for the fiesta.

Whether you are visiting a place this summer or just gallivanting around your city, people and places nowadays are not safe. Many travelers around the globe have been mugged, robbed and fallen victims to scams.

Here are some few tips from Matador Network, an independent travel website, on how not to get robbed when you travel.

1. Don’t get drunk. Most of us are vulnerable when we are wasted, especially if you are like me who would not miss a pub upon my visit to a place. As Matador puts it- Large, flesh-eating predators on planet Earth have always had a natural instinct to sniff out sick, injured and weak prey. And people-predators do the same. And we almost always make a slip on this rule.

2. Don’t look rich. It is understood that when you travel, you leave behind most of your valuables safely at home or somewhere else. We have heard many stories of people getting robbed inside jeepneys or buses or walking around Colon Street in Cebu. Maybe because they flashed around expensive jewelries or gadgets when they travel.

Of course Rule number 2 does not say you have to travel like a beggar. It simply means to lessen the chance of getting caught by predators.

3. The kids don’t play. Gone are the days when kids were still innocent. Nowadays, especially in cities, kids are scheming brats waiting for willing victims. Some are even used by adults to look for victims. So do not fall easily to their innocence. It could be a ploy. When kids are starting to harass you, it is always safe to leave them and go to places where there are a lot of people. Never argue with them because they may have adult “supervisors” around.

4. Watch the people watching you. You may feel this creepy instinct someone is watching you. Grab hold of your camera and look at people who are eyeing your DSLR. Tell them you know what their plans are. Look at them in the eye. But don’t stare that long. Just let them know you are not the type of person who is an easy prey.

5. Don’t be the low-hanging fruit; be the lion. People who rob are desperate and are willing to take risks whenever possible. If you appear sober, confident and aware of what’s going on around, robbers may wait for another victim. Sometimes your confidence and strong aura hinders bad elements to get you. If you suspect a bad element, show your confidence, look him in the eye and say their language when you know it.

Almost always, they would pass on you for giving them the screw-me-and-you-will-regret-it-look and take another chance on the weaker tourist.

6. Root for the home team. Always blend in. Never be the outstanding person you are in the streets. When you’re in Rome, be a Roman.

7. Put the expensive stuff where they won’t expect it. Some may have experienced their hotel rooms where opened when they were out especially at night. Most hotel robbers are freaks who wanted to get it done in the briefest possible time because they are also afraid of getting caught. Putting your laptop and your camera in a desk is like giving them a bonus.

So don’t make it too easy for them. Place your things in places where they usually care to look. Remember, robbers are not from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (I hope not!). They get what is placed near exits. Randomly place values in your locker, among towels, under your table or chairs.

8. Listen to locals. A good advice from locals is worth listening. So when they say do not go to a certain place, don’t. However, if someone who is beaming and telling you that he just had wonderful shots at that “forbidden” place be sure you are observing the rules above. Be diligent.

9. Be smart about cabs. Getting cabs especially when you are drunk is kind of risky. Be sure your companions know what cab you are taking and have them list down the plate number.

In airports and piers, do not take cabs that are “waiting.” Always go to legitimate companies.

10. Recognize when a bad situation is developing and get out of there. According to Matador, not all crime is skillfully premeditated and executed -- oftentimes it's improvised. Always err on the side of caution, Matador added, and get out of there. Nine times out of 10 they'll realize the opportunity has passed and carry on with whatever they were doing before they noticed you.

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