Security -- Isn't it dangerous out there?
by Randy Johnson.
Some people are put off from independent travel by the apparent risks. Not only can you get sick, or killed in a bus wreck, but there may be people trying to rob you, cheat you, rape you, drug your drink, or maybe even put a knife in your ribs.
I wish I could tell you that all of this is rubbish. Unfortunately, these things do happen to travelers. What I can tell you, however, is that in most countries I have traveled, I feel as safe or safer than I do at home. You will hear many horror stories on the Road, and some of them really make you want to catch the next flight home. There are tales of travelers contracting incurable diseases you have never even heard of, being thrown in jail after the police planted drugs in their room, being robbed of all they own and left in the wilderness, or being knifed on the street by robbers. One reason I tell you these stories is so you will not panic when you inevitably hear them recited by other travelers. "My God! No one ever told us about that!"
This is a long discussion, during which you will hear about dozens of ways you can lose your belongings to thieves, and a few ways that you may be physically harmed. It can be discouraging just reading about it. Don't worry, in the process I will tell you exactly what you can do to make the chances of your becoming a victim very small. In many countries the dangers are few and can be avoided with basic precautions.
People often use the word dangerous to describe the danger of theft, not bodily harm; do not confuse theft-prone with physically dangerous. In some of the most dangerous countries and cities in the Third World, there is very little risk of being physically attacked. You can read of innocent people being shot down by mass-murderers in the USA, and terrorist bombings in Europe. Personally, I am far more frightened by these random acts of violence at home than by the methodical workings of criminals in the Third World, who are only after your money. Learn how they work, and you will be safe.
Out on the Road, you enter a new way of life. There are different rules out there, and more precautions to be learned. The local people already know the rules. The sooner you learn them, the more problems you will avoid. When you take precautions, you will be safe. When you feel safe, you can enjoy your trip.
from Randy Johnson's "Footloose and Fancy-Free in the Third World" Used with Permission
All text Copyright © 1992-2004, Randy R. Johnson.