Traveling in a Third World Country: Safety Tips

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traveling in a third world country

Don’t look like a tourist when traveling in a third world country

Are you planning on traveling to a third world country this year? Travelers from first world countries are considered wealthier than other types of travelers–even if you are a poor college student. If you don’t want to be pegged as a target for theft the second you step off the plane, check out this list of tips.

Related: Rules for Traveling in a Foreign Country

Don’t stand out

  • Dress humbly, like natives in order to give the impression that you “live” in the country.
  • Don’t wear expensive clothes, jewelry, watch, or shoes.
  • Walk fast all the time. Every time you stop you become an easy target.

Be Aware of Common Scams 

  • Fake police. Crooks will often own a police badge and maybe a uniform of local law enforcement.  Be suspicious of anybody who asks you to show them your money. Do not allow police to search you or your belongings outside of a police station.
  • Drugged food or drinks. Always keep an eye on who is preparing your food. Don’t accept food or drinks offered to you on a bus/train/etc. They may drug you and leave you vulnerable to robbery.
  • Money changers. Only exchange your money with reliable sources. Do not exchange money with people who approach you offering a good rate. Often the money if fake.

Avoid Common Scams

  • Avoid crowds where you have to slow down while walking in the street. Slowing down means you are a target.
  • Be suspicious of unusual behavior around you. For example, if someone falls in front of you. They might be distracting you so their accomplice can rob you.
  • Be aware of who is behind you. If the same person is behind you for a few minutes, be suspicious.
  • Use a decoy wallet.  The thief will target your very visible wallet so you can keep your money and other important items in a hidden pocket or money belt.
  • Only use small luggage or a simple backpack. Large luggage makes you stand out and is an easy target.
  • Always ask for receipts at hotels when they make you pay in advance.
  • Only use taxis that are recommended by the hotel you are staying.  Always be weary of taxis you hail on the street.
  • Always bargain the price of a taxi before entering it, even if it has a meter.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who approaches you. In most third world counties this is considered rude–so be suspicious, especially if you are a female.
  • If you are approached by anybody who speaks good English, always be suspicious.
  • In most third world countries of the world women never respond to strangers, not even if they like the stranger. For a foreign woman it is never a good idea to respond to men who approach her. The appropriate behavior is cold silence and indifference.

What to do if you are robbed while traveling in a third world country

If something unusual happens in front of you, or near you, and you are robbed, remain calm. Don’t chase the thief. Instead, follow the person who generated the commotion: s/he is probably an accomplice and most likely a woman or child. Don’t try to stop her/him until there is police nearby.

If attacked while traveling in a third world country

  • Try not to panic and don’t make any sudden moves.
  • Avoid using violence if at all possible.
  • Police may not take theft seriously. However, murder they do. So most likely the thief doesn’t intend to hurt you.

If you get sick or injured while traveling in a third world country

Traveling does come with some risks. If you get sick or injured in a third country you may not have much control over where you are taken or who treats you. Your health insurance will most likely not work the same as it does at home. However, with an emergency medical plan, you will be transported home to be treated by your own doctors. Out of pocket, a medical transport could cost $100,000.00 or more.

But for less than the cost of an airplane ticket, you can have peace of mind that #webringyouhome.

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