How To Stay Safe When You Travel: 11 Essential Tips

 

I’ve been to nineteen countries since leaving Ireland two years ago, and along the way I’ve picked up quite a bit of knowledge about how to stay safe on the road. I’ve never been mugged, never been in a fight, never fallen victim to any serious scams, and I’ve stayed pretty healthy.

That said, I don’t know it all, and there are still a lot of places I haven’t been to. So I decided to recruit four nomadic friends to help with this post. They are:

Catherine Howard, who is spending the year living with 13 collectives of artists in 13 different locations across the globe. She’s already been to such far flung places as the Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, and China.

Graham Hughes, who is the only person to have ever visited every single country in the world without flying. (Yes, you read that right.)

María Ortega Garcia, who has spent the last couple of years traveling and living solo in such places as India and Southeast Asia, while tutoring Spanish online.

And finally the infamous Turner Barr who, not content with visiting dozens of countries, tries to find a random job everywhere he goes. He’s been a bartender on the Greek islands, worked on a reality TV show in Bangkok, and as a pizza maker in Italy, just to name a few.

Catherine, Graham, María and Turner

Catherine, Graham, María and Turner

Before we dive in…

Let me take a minute to emphasize how SAFE world travel is, because if you just read down through the tips below you’re likely to come away thinking that the world is a big, bad and scary place. For the most part though, it’s very safe. There’s a wealth of travel experience between myself, Catherine, Graham, María and Turner, yet none of us have any horror stories to tell you.

Catherine:

“I have yet to run into any serious disasters. The worst experience was my computer charger snapping in half, leaving me without connectivity for several days. The biggest mistake is that I have watched people miss out on a cultural experience — such as eating new foods or going swimming — because they are afraid of getting sick.  I’ve only gotten sick once, and that was eating a seemingly harmless fried food.  Being willing to dive in and experience new things is completely worth the occasional day or two of intestinal discomfort.”

Graham:

“You’d be surprised, a lot of locals won’t let you walk into danger. There will be a guard or someone to stop you because they do not want tourists stumbling into a minefield or a into a town that’s overrun by rebels. These countries, they don’t want you getting into trouble, they really don’t. They like having tourists, and even if they don’t like having tourists they don’t want the bad publicity that comes with something happening to someone.”

María:

“Luckily, I haven’t had any real disasters.”

Turner:

“To be honest, I have never had anything bad happen to me on the road. I am one of these people who tend to believe that certain people in general are ‘unluckier’ than others when they travel because they tend to do stupid shit to begin with.”

So, with that in mind, here are 11 essential tips for staying safe when you travel…

1. Do your research

When I arrived in Iran last year I found that none of the cash machines would accept my debit or credit cards. I had to go to great lengths and trust a lot of strangers to get me through the next ten days. It turned out fine, but it was a stressful situation that could have easily been avoided with some simple research ahead of time.

Graham recommends keeping an eye on the news before you set off some place:

“Things change very fast. I was in Syria a couple of years ago and it was fine, but now it’s in a full-blown civil war and you wouldn’t want to go anywhere near there. Somewhere like Mali, you wouldn’t want to go to Timbuktu six months ago but now it seems to be okay again. You’ve got to keep an eye on these things.”

A handy resource is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. Just choose whichever country you’re interested in and they’ll tell you what the situation is there, info updated regularly.

Another good research tool is a Lonely Planet guidebook. Check the dangers and annoyances section. They also give safety tips for female and LGBT travelers, since some countries can be quite dangerous for single women or gay couples.

Aim not to feel like this.

Aim not to feel like this.

2. Know where you’ll be staying and how to get there

Last year I got off an overnight bus from Romania in an unknown part of Istanbul at four o’clock in the morning and had to wander around in the dark for an hour trying to figure out where my hostel was. Not smart.

Catherine does it better:

“I heavily research the transportation system in the place I will be going before I even arrive, so that the moment I step off the plane I know exactly where I’m going, how to get there, and the exact person I will be meeting when I arrive.”

One trick is to look up the hostel or wherever you’ll be staying at on Google Maps in advance, and snap a few pics of the route from the bus/train station or airport to there. Literally take pictures of the screen. Such pics have saved my ass numerous times.

Or you could just print or buy a map, if you want to be all old-school about it :-P

Further advice from Turner:

“I try look up the address and of 1-2 guest houses ahead of time so if I meet locals or a taxi driver, if they don’t know the name of the place, they may know the cross streets. When you get to a hostel or hotel, grab their business card if they have one and keep it on you to show to taxi drivers when you need to get back.”

I’d add that you should book your accommodation in advance if possible. You don’t want to go halfway across town to reach a certain guesthouse and then find that they’re full up. I use and like Agoda for booking accommodation.

3. Befriend and hang out with locals

Couchsurfing is great for this, but you can also reach out to and meet people through Meetup groups or international organizations like Toastmasters.

One of Graham’s top tips is to arrange a Couchsurfing host in advance, so you’ll have someone there waiting for you to arrive and who can sound the alarm if you don’t show up. You can call them up when you get into town and hand your phone to a taxi driver to receive directions.

Some people are wary of Couchsurfing, but it’s pretty damn safe, as Graham can attest:

“A lot of people seem to think that it’s inherently unsafe to stay with a stranger, but because on Couchsurfing everyone has such a detailed profile you can usually gauge whether they’re genuine or a weirdo by comments they’ve left and how many people have vouched for them. And with Couchsurfing you don’t even have to stay with someone, just meet up for a coffee or something, just so someone knows that you got there safely. Another benefit of Couchsurfing is that it helps you meet and hang out with local people, who can advise you of specific ways to stay safe in their area. If you’re walking down the street with another backpacker, it’s much more likely that someone is going to mug you than if you were with a local.”

Catherine advises similar:

“Find a friend of a friend or a family to stay with so that you know someone will be watching out for you. Staying with families – even ones I only met through a single email – has helped me feel much safer than I felt staying in backpacker lodges or hostels.”

Making friends in India

Making friends in India

4. Don’t do stupid things

Avoid getting very drunk. Don’t go buying drugs. Refrain from hanging around with shady characters or frequenting dodgy night spots. Walk (or run) away from fights or anyone being aggressive.

As Graham says…

“Every time I hear about some backpacker who lost their wallet and their passport and everything they own in South America, the story always begins with the prelude, ‘Well I was buying these drugs…'”

Also learn a bit about the culture and traditions of a place before you go so you’re not walking around offending people accidentally. In Thailand for example it’s not cool to touch someone’s head or have the soles of your feet pointed at them. In Dubai you can be jailed and fined for being drunk on the street.

5. Learn about local scams so you can recognize and avoid them

Forewarned is forearmed. Here are a few examples of scams that you could easily fall for if you weren’t on the lookout for them:

  • The Agra restaurant scam, where they’ll put something in your food to make you ill, then bring you upstairs all concerned and call a “doctor”. The doctor will give you “medicine” which will just make you more sick. The plan is to keep you there for a few days and then try claim off your insurance. Best thing to do if you find yourself feeling ill in a restaurant is to insist on going to the hospital.
  • The La Paz taxi scam, where a plain-clothes “police officer” will get in your taxi and ask to see your money and passport under the guise of a drugs investigation. Often a couple of locals will have gotten in the taxi with you and will be happily showing this guy their money and ID, trying to convince you that it’s all standard procedure. Tell them you don’t have any money or ID on you and insist on going to the police station if they want to take the matter further.
  • Gambling scams. Avoid gambling anywhere that’s not a big casino with lots of security cameras. Poker rooms will often set you up to think you have the game in the bag, get you to throw all your money in, then rig it so you lose everything. You’ll be hesitant cry foul when you’re sat there with a table full of tough guys.
  • The Delhi train station scam, where a man in an official looking uniform will approach you on the way to the tourist office and claim that it has closed and moved to a different location across town. He’ll then helpfully escort you to a taxi and his buddy will drop you in some random location across town for a hefty fee. Insist on checking yourself whether the office is really closed. Don’t just believe what a random dude tells you, uniform or not.
  • Buying discount electronics. Always make sure to test the gadget and see if it works. Watch out for them switching the item when bagging it up. You don’t want to end up with the shell of camera with a weight inside.

6. Stand up for yourself and don’t be a pushover

I personally think this is the most important tip on the list. Don’t feel pressured into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with. Be skeptical and think for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be rude if someone is getting really pushy and insistent with you.

The La Paz taxi scam I mentioned before? Graham actually experienced that first-hand, but because he held his ground and insisted on going to the police station if they wanted to search him, the scammers gave up and the taxi dropped him on the side of a ring road. He had to walk for an hour to get to his hotel, but he had all his money and passport safe.

Turner’s advice:

“Always try to keep your valuables in a smaller bag but keep it on you (on your lap, not by your legs) at all times, especially on a bus. Don’t just put it up because some random person tells you too. I see newbie travelers do a lot of dumb stuff just because they see locals doing it (i.e. jumping into dark water). Just because locals do it, doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

Once in Chennai in India a taxi driver offered to take me back to my hotel for what seemed like a ridiculously low sum. I kept asking him if he’d be taking me directly back to the hotel for that price. The first couple of times he said yes, but when I kept pushing he admitted that we’d have to stop off at his friend’s shop so I might consider buying some items. I insisted that I didn’t have time for shopping and in the end he agreed to take me straight to the hotel for a standard fare. I had to get very loud with the guy before I got what I wanted.

I’ve also had people approach me while waiting in line at border checkpoints in Southeast Asia and ask to see my passport and forms. I’ve learned not to hand over anything just because I’m asked. My default response nowadays in situations like that is, “I’m sorry, but who are you? Do you work here?” Often times they’ll just lie in response to that, but I always trust my gut and tell them I’ll happily wait to talk with the person behind the window at the checkpoint. I’ve probably been over-cautious and turned away some genuinely helpful people doing this, but that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make to reduce the risk of getting scammed.

(You might also recall my story about Kostas the Greek in Istanbul. Same idea. I could have gotten myself in a lot of trouble that night had I not stood up to him.)

Be confident. But perhaps not this much.

Be confident. But perhaps not this much.

7. Smile and be friendly

Don’t lose your cool, even if you’re being searched unnecessarily by police for the tenth time that day. Cops in many countries are on the lookout for tourists carrying drugs or doing anything illegal so they can make nice bribe money. It will all go a lot smoother if you smile and act friendly towards them.

And, you know, if you’re not carrying any drugs.

It’s also good to have a bit of charm and know how to talk your way out of trouble. If someone ever threatens you or looks likely to start a fight, try to deescalate as quickly as possible. Set your ego aside, apologize (even if you have nothing to apologize for), assume a non-threatening posture and try get out of there as fast as possible. Even if you’re clearly not the instigator and believe you can take the other guy down, the local authorities may not be on your side.

8. Be smart and discreet with your money

Turner’s advice:

“I tend to always travel with two wallets. In my main wallet I’ll have local currency and an ID of some sort. In the other wallet I keep at least $100-200 in USD one, five, ten and twenty notes that are clean and not ripped. When in Europe I do the same with Euros as well. I try to have at least 2/3 different ATM accounts and keep half the cards in one place, and the other half in a different bag in case one gets stolen. It’s also smart to carry with you a photocopy of your passport and leave the real deal in a safe place like a locker.”

The two-wallets tip is also great for countries where the police are likely to solicit bribes from you for even the most minor offenses. Have a simple money clip at the ready with just a couple of old cards and a few notes in it, rather than pulling out your main wallet with a big chunk of cash.

Catherine adds:

“I no longer worry about being pick-pocketed. Everything of value is at the very bottom of the biggest pocket of my zippered bag, and I carry no cash or fancy gadgets anywhere on my person.”

9. Get insured, and know what you’re covered for

Travel insurance can be had pretty cheap from World Nomads. I’ve used them myself for a couple of years, and while they’re pretty useless for small claims, they’ll have your ass well covered if any big medical expenses come your way. Just make sure you get coverage for everything you need. Their standard policy doesn’t include coverage for adventure sports, for example.

Also check if you’re entitled to free travel insurance from your home country, and if that covers you everywhere. María found out the hard way that her health insurance was of no use to her in Australia:

“I learned the importance of knowing about the health system of the country you are in. Coming from a country where there is a universal health care, completely free, I had never had a concern about getting an insurance; besides being a healthy person and not a big risk taker, I had never had a mayor health problems or accidents in my travels, until this year, where I suffered from a severe infection in my last days in Bali and first weeks in Australia. If I had had more information about the agreements between countries, I would have known that Spain doesn’t have any agreement with Australia and therefore I would have got an insurance in advance, and so going to the doctor wouldn’t have been such an unexpected costly experience.”

Insurance is unlikely to cover falling from an abandoned skyscraper

Note: your insurance is unlikely to cover falling from an abandoned skyscraper

10. Don’t be a woman

Just kidding with that title :-)

If you’re a woman though, you do need to be a bit more careful.

Maria had this to say:

“I think that the rules / tricks / behavior to stay safe for solo female travelers are the same for all females in general. Common sense and having in mind that although people are wonderful in general, there are isolated individuals than can cause a lot of damage, so be aware of the risks.

I haven’t traveled that much, but in my limited experience, India has been the only country where I felt vulnerable and unsafe, and I really appreciated the company of a male friend. So, in countries like this one, I find it really useful to be part of female traveler groups to learn about potential risks, what to do and what not to do.”

More from Catherine:

“The other big thing is that many woman traveler’s I know carry themselves with fear on their faces. That fear can be a target of weakness. In general, strangers are incredibly helpful and generous. Trusting the world leads to a much more pleasant travel experience because you release anxiety and are open for more positive people to approach you.

Zimbabwe, for example, is a fabulous country to travel and overall very safe, but be sure to have a companion unless you are already very familiar with the location you are going to. Women traveling alone are uncommon, which would cause you to stand out as an easy target. With a companion, though, the country is amazing!”

Catherine also has lots more great advice for female travelers over at her blog: 7 Tips for How to be a Fearless Solo Female Traveler

11. Your top tip for safe travel

Got anything to add? Let’s hear you in the comments.

Travel Ninjas, Unite!

Lastly, if you’re interested in getting more travel-related posts from me, sign up to my new Travel Ninja email list.

Thanks again to Catherine, Graham, María and Turner for helping me out with this post. Be sure to check out their sites and say hello.

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12 Comments

  1. “Safe” is a relative term. Even if you go to a war zone, there is only a small chance of getting shot. It’s not too bad. But as a tourist, are you as safe as you were back home? It depends where you live now, and where you’re going – usually “no”.

    It is a mistake to tell everyone that “X is safe” just because you survived your evening walk down Alexanda in Johannesburg. You end up extrapolating from your limited experiences too much. It is a very myopic conclusion that doesn’t take into account the overall picture.

    Everyone can check the crime stats for countries, and they can adjust based on how they travel, places they visit, how they look, who they go with, etc. Usually, the crime stats for you as a tourist will be substantially higher than for the locals.

    Fact of the matter is that as a tourist;
    (1) You are a prime target for the local criminals in many places. They wait. And your foreign face/skin/dress stands out. They know you carry cash/electronics.

    (2) You don’t know what is safe and what is not safe. This happens all the time; foreigners getting involved with the dredges of society thinking that they are “just poor” like everyone else in this “poor” country and that’s how people live, but not realizing that they are hanging out with the local hoodrats. As tourists, people don’t have the eye to spot dangerous situations.

    (3) There is a difference between staying somewhere, living somewhere, and passing through. You can quickly travel through a lot of places that are most certainly dangerous for you.

    (4) There is a big difference between losing $5 to a cheating taxi/pickpockets, getting extorted for $3000, and getting a knife shoved in your stomach. But somehow, all three types of scenarios just get lumped into one category of “travel safety”. This goes to show you that people look at “safety” from completely different angles, and draw very limited conclusions and tips based on their limited scenarios; a thousand tips, mostly useless.

    Travel is like a casino. Don’t go if you can’t afford to lose. If you do go, bring only what you can afford to lose. Dead tourists and travelers who were robbed/injured rarely post on blogs to tell you to be careful. It’s usually the travel blogger crowd that hypes up travel with inspirational stories, as they try to get a little piece of this multi-billion dollar industry.

  2. We’ve travelled for over a year in Mexico and Central America and have, for the most part, felt very safe. Right now, we’re in Honduras, a country listed in travel advisories as very dangerous. We read up on each country before we go, try to have a place to stay for the first night we arrive and ask questions of our hosts, shopkeepers and expats who seem to go out of their way to make us feel comfortable. Anytime I meet someone who has been to a place we plan to travel to I try to get contact info and again, ask lots of questions. Let your family or friends know where you’re going and check in regularly too. It’s always good to have a safety net! Love your blog and always look forward to new posts. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

  3. It seems pretty obvious that Vito is jaded and has never traveled before, or got totally robbed when he did.

    Although he does bring up some valid points, he is also dangerously wrong on others.

    First of all, travel is nothing like a casino, or rather, it is like an invert casino where it almost always pays out, but there is always the very small possibility of extreme loss, just like life.

    I surround myself with travelers and almost every traveler I have ever met, including those who have been robbed or got their asses kicked, say that traveling is generally extremely safe, as long as you take some prudent precautions, which were well outlined in the discussion above. Most of these people have nothing to do with this supposed travel blogger industrial complex. Travel bloggers are helping people get more satisfaction and joy from travel in a cheaper way that has less of a negative impact on the local people. They do this because they love traveling, they love people and they love helping people. Some of them make a meager income from it and some make a somewhat decent income. You cannot be both a phony travel blogger and a successful one. Deal with it.

    The point about the differences in types of negative things that could happen is valid, but even the worst things can mostly be avoided by simple tips, such as de-escalating aggressive situations, not getting totally wasted, paying attention to where people are actually getting killed, etc. Really, the biggest danger in travel is riding in cars. In the USA alone, with high traffic safety standards and advanced medical facilities, 40,000 people are killed by car crashes each year, not to mention the many more that are injured or maimed. That kind of puts into perspective the handful of tourists who are killed in “dangerous situations” in a year. I’ll take being stabbed to death in some grungy alley halfway around the world than getting crushed by a cement truck on my way to yet another day in some crappy office.

    Your risk may be higher as a tourist because you stick out, but you can reduce how much you stick out, how much you stand to lose, and how you react to losing it. Also, the vast vast vast majority of “danger” is in that “losing $5 to a cheating taxi/pickpockets” zone.

    The media and those people who never travel spend a lot of time talking about how dangerous this or that place is to travel, because they have nothing better to do and don’t know what they are talking about. All this negativity prevents so many people from going out into the world to grow and meet amazing new people and widen their world view and learn that we are all not so different after all. That is a shame. That is why travelers talk so much about how safe traveling is.

    • “every traveler I have ever met, including those who have been robbed or got their asses kicked, say that traveling is generally extremely safe”

      I’ve spent decades living in Washington, DC, and neither I nor my friends ever got robbed or had their asses kicked. Yes, there is plenty of crime here, but most casualties are the people in the drug and crime circles.

      The very fact that you know travelers who had their asses kicked or been robbed should be a clue as to the potential dangers of travel, and how they compare to life in the US. Not everyone walks away.

      You’re right that car accidents account for many injuries. But driving cars is a practical necessity of life for most people. Traveling isn’t. If you think risk is worth it, fine. The point is that there is additional risk and it should be accepted, not denied or marginalized as if it didn’t exist. There is nothing jaded about it. It is reality. (depending on location.)

      Furthermore, most travelers are on the backpacker/tourist trail, and most hang out precisely in the most dangerous spots where they are targets for crime. Hostel areas/hotel areas/bus stations/train station/famous attractions/etc. And most will never “blend in” or have their own transportation to get off the tourist trail.

      Sure, I “survived” Johannesburg, Bogota, Harare, Angola, Kinshasa, Mexico City, Caracas, and some other gems. Just because I made it and others made it doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe, just like home. It is an additional risk. A risk some people are willing to take in the name of travel and others are not. It should be part of the equation for each individual. To discount it is to put your head in the sand.

      Am I a jaded traveler? Maybe. You know what made me jaded? Seeing how the masses travel, sitting in their hostels surrounded by other foreigners and getting drunk every night on their gap years. And then they take the tourist bus to the next destination, to hang on the beach and drink some more with some more foreigners or some locals catering to tourists. Then they snap some pics of local kids in tattered clothes and show off their worldiness to their friends when they come back home.

      Ehh… I like to travel, but I think the benefits of travel are highly overestimated and romanticized.

  4. Wow. Great advice from the some very handsome people.

    Only two things

    1) I have not been a bartender in the Greek Islands yet, I opted out due to time and age constraints (there are only so many 20 year old aussies I can handle).

    2) I will not take it personality that you chose the picture of the elephant trying to eat me. Nor will I be upset by the intellectual property theft, this time:)

    Cheers,

    Miss you buddy.

    Turner

    ps let’s do like a tv show or something.

  5. This was an amazing post! Love enlisting the help of others to provide well-rounded advice.

    I learned a lot, I laughed a bit, I thought a little.

    I’d like to throw in one thing about the cops – don’t let them put their hands in your pockets! Of course, check with the local laws, maybe they’re allowed. As a Bangkok expat, I’ve learned it’s illegal for Thai police to put their hands in your pockets. Instead, simply take everything out of your pocket, turn them outwards, and show them you’re clean.

    The reason for this is that cops, especially in Thailand, are all about that bribe money. They might slip something in your pocket and then solicit a bribe (with a threat of taking you downtown).

    Great post!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience. I believe in using common sense and always be alert, is the most important when traveling. Especially important is the fact that each culture has different customs,traditions and culture cues, which should be respected and honored,to not get yourself into an awkward situation. Mutual respect and understanding will normally follow.

  7. Great advice from all contributors.

    One principle I try to follow which I learnt on my first solo trip is to trust my guts based on what I feel when looking into someone’s eye when they’re offering me help or a great deal on a taxi ride or hotel and whatnot (especially at bus stations and markets).

    Based on that I opted to not trust (or at least be extra cautious) people when I cannot see their eyes at all, like when they wear very dark sunglasses.

    Yes, it’s completely subjective and not full-proof, but on a couple of occasions I learnt later from other travellers that same guys with dark shades who offered me their help turned to be dodgy (no great danger but little scams).

    And like you Niall, “I’ve probably been over-cautious and turned away some genuinely helpful people doing this, but that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make to reduce the risk of getting scammed.”
    I think overall, it’s been more positive for me to stick to this principle.

    More generally, I do think travel is safe as long as you are aware of your surroundings. I think a lot of the bad stories happened because the person was in the wrong place at the wrong time and are very much down to bad luck.
    A good balance between “smile and be friendly” and “stand up for yourself” does wonders.

    @Vito – “Travel is like a casino. Don’t go if you can’t afford to lose.” What a sad way to approach it.

  8. Another fantastic post & video Niall. And a question for you.

    I was wondering if you have any specific recommendations for some kind of global gadget insurance on top of the world nomads?

    I’m planning to buy a shed load of macbooks (& other electronics) in Malaysia to then sell on in Brazil (they retail at double the price over there)..

    • Hey Jonathan,

      I don’t have any recommendations on that, unfortunately. I did insure my gadgets (Kindle, laptop) with World Nomads but then I broke my Kindle and claimed off the insurance and they gave me like $15 or something. After that I realized that it’s almost pointless to insure gadgets with them since the extra amount you pay for the coverage is about the same as they pay out.

  9. Not sure where Vito is coming from making the case so strongly that travel is (or can be) dangerous. Actually, he kind of seems to be arguing against travel in general. Certainly he’s entitled to his opinion, and to each their own, as they say, but I find his truculence on this point a little odd.

    First, if he lives in DC as he says, then he lives in a place that is far more dangerous than most of the places he or anyone else is likely to encounter on their travels. I come from another city on the east coast of the States and I know what I’m talking about. I was robbed in that city and my friends were robbed and carjacked as well. If Vito sticks strictly to the wealthier areas of DC, then maybe he’ll stay lucky, but one thing is sure: if you look at the murder rate of DC, it’s worse that that in many of the cities favored by backpackers around the world.

    For the last 15 years, I’ve been a travel writer and I’ve spent months each year on the road. And, for the entire time, I’ve lived abroad in places which backpackers frequent. I have never been robbed, attacked or even ripped off beyond paying a tiny bit more than locals might have paid in some instances. Okay, once, I was pickpocket in Kathmandu, but a friendly local saw it happen and got my wallet back for me a minute later, with everything in it. And, no, I don’t spend my time only in comfortable backpackers’ enclaves with the masses of other backpackers. I go right out there, both for my job and for my own pleasure.

    I don’t know why Vito is so down on travel. Like anything else, travel is what you make of it. But, in my own experience, travel is what I live for (one of the things, anyway). Travel is enlightening, liberating, educational and incredibly fun. It forces you to confront yourself and learn about yourself, and it brings you into contact with the most interesting people you will ever meet.

    If you spend the entire time worried about being the victim of some crime, well, that’s incredibly sad. If you aren’t able to free yourself from this fear, then I’d suggest maybe you shouldn’t travel.

    That’s why I like this post of Niall’s so much. He and his co-writers and simply stating what almost all seasoned travelers know to be true: Travel is not dangerous. Indeed, coming from where I come from, it’s safer for me to travel than it is to stay in my hometown. No question about it. I was the victim of a crime in my hometown, but it never happened to me in 15 years on the road.

    Finally, I find Vito’s initial closing comment to be a cheap shot. He states that Niall is trying to cash in on the booming travel economy. That’s not true. Niall is writing about self-improvement and growth, he never tries to monetize traveling per se.

    And if Vito thinks that Niall condones the sort of travel that entails spending time with the “unwashed hoards” in places like Khao San Road, checking emails and never mixing with the locals, then he hasn’t been reading Niall’s blog very closely. I know Niall and during the whole time he was in Bangkok, I don’t think he even visited Khao San Road. Read the title of Niall’s blog, Vito. Niall is all about getting away from the rabble, not joining them for banana pancakes and Bob Marley in the backpackers ghettos.

    Vito, if you think travel is that dangerous and that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, fine. You don’t have to travel. No one is making you. But, the four co-writers of this piece have traveled way more than most people can even dream of and they’re merely reporting their experiences, honestly and fairly. They love traveling. So do I. And we’re happy if others can find the same joy in it.