I recently got a copy of Travel Safety, an ebook published by Indie Travel Media (the same people behind the Indie Travel Podcast). I thought I’d write a review as I think this book will be of interest to Budget Travel Blog readers.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Travel Safety is written by Craig Bidois (head of NZ travel security company Fear Free) and Craig Martin of Indie Travel Media. Their unique skill sets combine to provide a really comprehensive guide to staying safe on the road – Bidois has extensive experience with corporate security in high-risk areas, and Martin has been travelling pretty much non-stop since 2006.
WHAT IT COVERS
As they say at the beginning of the book, most of the time staying safe while travelling is down to common sense. The thing is, common sense comes about from experience.
As both of the authors have travelled extensively, they’ve seen or experienced a number of scams and threats to travellers. Basically, you get to learn from other people’s mistakes rather than making them yourself.
FOR THE BACKPACKER
Although one of the authors runs a corporate security company which is obviously orientated to the business traveller, a large part of the book is based around travel safety for backpackers, RTW travellers, and those on solo trips.
While some of the information regarding pickpockets is similar to other guidebooks, I found thesection on avoiding cyber crime helpful. It’s good to see that they’re not just focussed on personal safety but also warn about the dangers of things like Facebook fraud and virtual kidnappings (the latter of which I didn’t know about until reading this).
I think the dangers of cyber fraud are often overlooked by backpackers and budget travellers – especially those new to international travel – and from experience I find people more concerned about petty theft rather than having their email or social media accounts hacked.
This mindset needs to change – in reality if you’re pick pocketed of a couple of hundred baht it’s not the end of the world. The effects can be worse if your bank account is cleaned out, or your family is conned into sending thousands of dollars to criminals.
Most people see their hotel or hostel rooms as “their own” space when they’re travelling. While that may be true in a sense, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. There were lots of (dodgy) things about accommodation I didn’t know, and it slightly freaked me out thinking back to some places I’ve stayed in the past.
I learned some great tips (and let’s just say I’ll be putting a post-it note on my room door’s peep-hole from now on).
When travel safety (as a concept) is discussed, it tends to centre around physical safety and avoiding crime. While that is an important part of it, there are other aspects that should be considered too, such as transport.
Travel Safety has a big section on staying safe while you’re getting from A to B, be it by taxi, bus, plane or boat. It even gives tips on how to survive a shipwreck (which does happen, as Adventurous Kate discovered).
THE REALLY BAD STUFF
Muggings, carjackings, kidnappings, sexual assault. Sadly these events can be encountered by travellers around the world. What I liked about the information provided in this book is they don’t just give you the generic “how to avoid getting into this situation to begin with” spiel that is oh-so-common. (You know what I mean – stuff like “ladies, don’t get too drunk and walk down dark alleys in a city you don’t know“).
Travel Safety also gives you information on what to do if it does happen to you. Even if you’re super careful bad things can still happen, and then it’s a matter of ending the situation and getting yourself to safety as soon as possible. This ebook is worth the money for this information alone. Read it a couple of times, and if the shit does hit the fan you’ll be prepared.
DON’T GET PARANOID
I must admit, by the time I’d finished reading the book (especially the part about muggings and kidnaps) I was freaking out. The world can be a scary place, and there are people out there who will do their best to hurt you and steal from you. Just remember, those people are lurking around whether you read Travel Safety or not – now you’re prepared to stay away from them and know what to do if you do become a victim.
One of the most important messages the book has is about the mindset of travel:
If you do have a bad experience, don’t let that ruin the rest of your trip. Take the time you need to process it, talk with friends, try and get something positive from it, and keep going. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, but that’s part of the journey.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, but as always the opinions expressed here are my own.