*This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Traveling around a city can be a fun, leisurely experience, a hurried commute, or a stressful navigation. There are many methods to traveling in a city, and many options available to you. Public transport abounds, as does the use of sidewalks, bike lanes, and roads. However, we all learn very quickly that the population density found in cities can sometimes be difficult to cope with. Travelling could become something that would otherwise be a pleasant time of transit at a time you need to exercise your full powers of concentration to get through.
On top of that, caring for your safety first is one of the wisest considerations to think. Sometimes getting to your destination a little later to ensure this can be more than worth the effort. Even the most experienced and street-wise person can learn a thing or two from brushing up on their safety habits when traveling in a populated area. For the traveler entering new cities and learning new environments, safety tips are absolutely essential.
To learn and know these, bloat will give the opposite intended effect. Practical city dwelling tips must be fast, easy to remember and possible to apply without much practical thought. For that reason we have compiled a small guide to wise and safe city travel, and it is as follows:
Street thieves and pickpockets operate in almost all areas, and they are often very subtle and refined in their methods. Yes, this is a common occurrence in even big, modern cities, and actually especially so. This means that keeping your valuables hidden is important. Holding your handbag or purse with one hand and ensuring its opening can be sealed, adding small zip tie locks to your rucksack (particularly if transporting laptops,) and simple methods like resisting the temptation to pull out your brand new iPhone X in the street can all work to dispel any unwanted attention. A thief or someone with negative intentions will often see the seals and a lack of vulnerable openings and will move on. Also, if you can, be sure to report anyone you see acting suspiciously around others belongings. This allows you to make a small impact of difference in the circumstance.
It’s very easy to simply put our headphones in and shut off the world when we’re walking. This is tempting, because honestly who wants to listen to the continual chatter and droning of hundreds of people and their vehicles in the background? However, being able to hear your environment is often something that allows you attention to circumstances quickly. This could be a speeding car when crossing the road, someone misbehaving or shouting and thus declaring you should avoid them, or people who approach you unwarrantedly.
One thing that is often taught in beginner street self-defense classes is the ability to stay awake. Keeping an amber level of awareness at all times will generally allow you to keep relatively relaxed, but not take anything for granted. Of course, you’re not likely to be attacked or placed in a fight for no reason, but simply ensuring your hands aren’t stuffed in your pockets at all times can allow you to take action more quickly if needed. Stay focused and observant of your environment. You can practice this awareness by personal meditating at home, or simply listening as you walk through the city. Of course, this isn’t to prepare you as if you were facing a battle in the future. However, someone who pays attention will statistically be much safer in the long term, and we’d consider that chance to be worth the effort.
It’s one thing to be aware of your surroundings, but another to be aware of the environment you’re entering pre-emptively. Not all cities are the same, and not all areas are the same. A quick google search can lend you a list of places you may find worthwhile to avoid. This doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding communities or neighborhoods, it could simply mean finding methods to move through the city with the least traffic or pedestrian-dense streets.
Signing up for travel alerts via an app on your phone will also help you understand the flows of the movements in the city, and help you avoid problem areas. Has there been an issue on the roads? Has a fire broken out somewhere along the route you had previously planned? It can be worthwhile to stay active and engaged with these updates as you move around. This is obviously due to the fact that a city is not just a static place. A city is a living, breathing entity as much as the people who live within and shape it, meaning that things can change at the drop of a hat.
All of this sounds like you’ll be entering a chaotic war zone, and of course, that isn’t the case. However, if you’re able to simply understand that things do change, large amounts of people can necessitate events good and bad within a small amount of time, and that cities draw massive amounts of the population, you will feel comfortable enacting strategies that keep you the safest in response.
This is a more subtle approach to travel, but it does work. Knowing the rights of way that you have will allow you to move confidently and consistently throughout cities. It might be that abroad certain signs and notifications mean different things. Learning basic terminology to read road signs could work here.
Also, knowing your rights if you are ever impeded could allow you to pursue litigation if things are actively damaging to you. Auto, train and bus accidents can happen at any time and affect you. If you know the legal framework you can pursue, you might have the chance to either become compensated for the action or reimbursed for your damages at the very least. Knowing your rights as a citizen will often translate into the active means of traveling around the society you occupy. It will help you responsibly and healthily interact with the police if necessary. It will also allow you to stay defensive and know your parameters for that in certain situations.
If you take care of all of this, wise and safety city travel will become the norm, and not an exception.