When you enter one of the world’s major cities, its unique local rhythms and style immediately flood your senses. The desire to experience this urban magic is one reason Paris gets 17 million visitors each year, and Istanbul gets over 10 million. However, to truly enjoy the unique charms of an unfamiliar city, you have to take some basic precautions for personal safety. Here are five pointers to keep you safe and make your urban holiday problem-free.
Make an effort to blend in
In general, when choosing travel clothing and accessories, you should attempt to blend in with the general public. In many cities, the standard clothing is dark coloured, and a tourist in bright whites and pastels can be spotted from 50 yards away. Also, avoid showy jewellery and expensive watches, since these will advertise you as a rewarding target.
Stay in well-trafficked areas
Each city has its own complex configuration of areas that are more or less safe, and the degree of safety can change radically from one block to the next. As a new visitor, you have no way of decoding the safety level of deserted areas – so it’s best to simply avoid them. Stay where there are plenty of people and lights, or hail a taxi to whisk you to your destination. Taxis may cost more than walking, but the money will be well spent.
Use ATMs often, and in locations that feel safe
A safe location may be inside a bank or hotel, or it may be on a sunny, wide-open street with plenty of locals standing in line withdrawing their own money. In a big city, there are thousands of ATMs, so you don’t have to carry large sums of cash. Take out just enough money for a couple of days at a time, and you’ll feel more relaxed as you explore.
Be aware of your valuables
When you sit at a sidewalk cafe or in a park, make sure that you always keep your purse close by. Don’t put it down on the floor or hang it behind your chair. Instead, keep it on your lap or somehow wrapped around your body so it can’t be grabbed. Have a few coins ready in a pocket for paying bus fare or donating to street performers, to minimize the number of times you have to take your wallet out. Also, backpacks are for water bottles, sandwiches, and sweaters – not wallets or passports.
Protect yourself with travel insurance
Despite taking all possible precautions, unexpected events sometimes arise. Trip cancellation insurance can be a great investment, since it will bring you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can simply reschedule your trip in the future if something goes wrong. International travel insurance provides you with the safety and flexibility to venture out into a new city with confidence and lets you be totally open to its unique cosmopolitan magic.