The Christmas season is upon us, and for those of us still working, it’s the time of year when the most popular person in the office is your Human Resource Manager, as everyone queues outside his/her office with a leave form in hand. Everyone is booking holiday destinations and making travel arrangements; your inbox is full of “Out-of-Office” auto-replies; and travel blogs are the most popular thing on the Internet. Perhaps your Facebook timeline is already littered with images of your friends on holiday.
Amidst all the planning, we often forget to take into consideration our safety while travelling or once we arrive at our holiday destinations. How much thought have you given to your choice of holiday accommodation beyond whether it has a swimming pool or beach-front?
Let’s discuss safety while on the road (or in the air) to your holiday getaway:
- Travelling via Public Transport:
If travelling with a laptop or a camera, you should make sure to keep it on you at all times, especially when the vehicle stops for a brief lay-over. When alighting from the vehicle, you should get out with your valuables, as opposed to leaving them unmanned on the seat or overhead luggage rack. You should also plan ahead of the journey and arrange to have a trusted person pick you up from the airport or bus terminal as soon as you arrive at your destination. A stranded tourist in unfamiliar territory is an easy target for thugs.
- Being Discreet:
Take whatever measures necessary to avoid making yourself an attractive target for potential thugs. For instance, don’t travel with your iPad, tablet, and laptop on one trip; leave behind anything that you can afford to. Consider not wearing expensive jewellery or openly carrying a laptop bag, as these are cues that thieves quickly pick up on when scouting for potential targets. Also, try to remain awake and alert at all times when in the vehicle, especially when travelling into unfamiliar territory.
- Research Your Holiday Destination:
Make sure to learn everything you can about your intended holiday destination before you set off. Make a note of the local emergency hotlines or contacts and commit these to memory if possible. It’s also advisable to learn and respect the culture, dressing, and other mannerisms of those living in the area, as this will help you to blend in with the locals. This will help you avoid unnecessary confrontation with any conservative locals who might feel offended should you disregard any of their customs. You should avoid looking and acting like a tourist in public situations. Remember, the more discreet you are, the less likely it is for you to be targeted.
- Choosing Holiday Accommodation:
The choice of accommodation you choose is critical in ensuring your safety while on holiday. You can only truly relax and enjoy a holiday when you’re assured that loved ones and their possessions are in good hands, so give due consideration to the security provided at your accommodation facility of choice. For instance, you should give preference to facilities that make use of swipe access cards as opposed to numbered room keys, because should you lose your key, a potential burglar that finds it wouldn’t know which room to break into. After checking in, you should take note of the emergency exits, fire escape routes, and assembly points. Beyond this, you should also remember to keep your hotel room locked at all times, including when retiring to bed for the night.
Lastly, you should exercise caution when you are out and about, especially when visiting popular tourism destinations like the beaches in Mombasa or shopping malls in Nairobi. Avoid carrying large sums of cash and take advantage of mobile money services or credit cards as modes of payment. Consider moving around in small groups or in pairs, rather than on your own because there is safety in numbers. Going out after dark should also be kept at a minimum, but if unavoidable, be sure to visit well-lit and busy areas.
Even as you go on that long-awaited trip to the Maasai Mara or down to the Coast, be sure to leave your home in safe hands as well! Get a friend or family member to visit your home periodically while you are away, or ask your neighbours to make your house look occupied by parking their car in your driveway, switching on your lights in the evening, or hanging their washing on your hanging lines over the weekend.
With these tips in mind, you are sure to enjoy a safe and merry holiday!