as safe as you can when traveling

in travel •  7 months ago

A risk you face when you decide to travel abroad is... well.. getting things stolen, being robbed and other unsavoury events that everyone tells you before you depart for a worldwide adventure. Especially, regions that have had a general bad reputation through the media. Colombia hasn't exactly been the safest place in recent decades and the crazy insane stories you hear could not be further from the actual truth when you are traveling through this beautiful country.

Having said that... I did got out the other evening with a bunch of new friends from the place I am staying for some drinks and fun adventures. Unfortunately, I did get pick pocketed by a group of people as I was walking along the street in what is considered to be a safe neighbourhood. They only got my phone, which is a pain but they didn't get my wallet, as that would have made it quite a bit more painful.

An entrance to a artistic store in Comuna 13, Medellin
Click image to view full size

This made me think that no matter how prepared you are when you travel abroad things happen, hence you buy insurance, etc. I was lucky it was my phone and not something else, as I have heard some stories from other travellers the last few days, which makes my experience look incredibly PG rated. One of my fellow travellers was caught urinating in public one evening. Not his finest hour, especially, when the police caught him and threatened him with jail if he didn't pay a bribe. Lucky for him it cost him $40CAD to walk away, as he did talk them down from $320CAD. Lesson here don't urinate in public... Kind of a funny story though.

Other stories involve being pick pocketed in other areas in South America, which can happen from time to time - it is just what happens when you travel through these areas. Personally, to prevent such mishaps from occurring I walk with my hands either in my pockets or against my leg so that I can constantly feel my wallet and my new phone. Not the most ideal but it is for when you are walking through crowded streets, etc.

Basically, a lot of comes down to prevention and using common sense when travelling. If it looks like a dodgy, dark alleyway then don't walk down the dark, dodgy alleyway... make sense? Don't walk off alone with people you don't really know that you just met at a restaurant or bar. Common sense goes a long way...

However, knowing that certain situations will occur won't put me off exploring and travelling more and more throughout Colombia or South America. Well, worth the risk

Do you have any little things to ensure mishaps like these don't happen to you?
Have you any stories of being robbed whilst travelling abroad?

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Hey it's a shame that happened to you. Hope it doesn't ruin your vacations. I don't have any story about being robbed while travelling but in my country (Venezuela) it's so common to be robbed that I have learned how to be always cautious. Be careful about the place you decide to check your phone, because you never know who is watching you and who could follow you if you get out. Try to not wear expensive things or to look to fancy because it will make people notice that you could have something value with you. Act natural, enjoy but be always aware of the people around you.


its not the most fantastic moment of my Colombian journey so far but it is definitely not going to ruin my trip and future trips just a lesson learned for future reference. I really wanted to visit Venezuela but was told by a few locals it isn't the greatest place for tourists at the moment. I am making my way towards Playa Costeno next week, have you been?


No, but I would really like to be there someday, and also visit Cartagena! Yes Venezuela is very beautiful but it's not the best time for having a vacation here, hopefully very soon you'll be able :)


Well, stay tuned for some of my upcoming posts, as I am heading there on Monday to explore around

That sucks but as you said at least it wasn't your wallet.

Your friend is lucky .. $40 is a bargain price. How did he manage to talk them down from $320. That is a big difference. Just goes to show that the police didn't care about the urination. They just wanted to hustle a tourist.


this is true and I was a tad annoyed when it happened but it could have been way worse. I honestly, have no idea how he did it and when I asked him about it, he doesn't really know how he did it either.

I live in Argentina and I can totally relate. I've ever been "almost" robbed once on the way to the airport (that means the bag that was almost stolen had my air ticket, phone, passport and wallet). Fortunately I noticed in time and grabbed the door of the taxi which the thieves had just boarded. The taxi moved, but couldn't move too quickly because I was pretty much hanging on to it and running beside it. A red light saved me.

That happened in the capital. I live in a provincial city so unsafe adventures are slightly toned down out here. The closest I ever got to being a victim again was when a man stopped me in the street during siesta (afternoon nap time, no one was around at all) and asked me for money. I asked him what for. He said to eat. I conveniently pointed to a nearby gas station and said let's go my treat. He then said he had a gun. I acted excited and said I'd never seen a gun would he show it to me? He gave up after that.

Dark dodgy alleyways. I've been down one once. Seven years ago when I was still a tourist and spoke no Spanish. I was following a map (and on maps they don't show you which road was safe) so I walked down a certain dark dodgy alleyway which the map showed to be the nearest straight line way to wherever I was going. Everything around me screamed "I am a tourist rob me", from the paper map in hand to the camera hanging on my neck. Dodgy people peeked out from doorways. Dodgy people were relaxing on their front yards. Dodgy families said hello as I passed. Dodgy people asked me questions (which I didn't understand) as I passed. I wasn't robbed. It wasn't so dodgy after all.

Great post. I know some who have been robbed, even watches/necklaces/rings ripped from them (when in a car/taxi, keep windows up at stop signs, red lights, speed bumps, curbside vendors, etc.). Personally, I’ve been “encouraged” to “donate” to street persons (thus always have a few loss dollars so you don’t pull your wallet out – same trick in LA/NYC). also have walked/run quickly to a safe location as we were being followed. In addition to your recommendations, aside from the obvious (being with others, knowing where you, aware without looking scared), here are the other measures I do / tell others: No watch/jewelry (phone has time), if possible back pockets w/buttons (i.e. cargo shorts), shirt never tucked in, hanging over pockets (avoids advertising, also they don’t know if pockets w/buttons or if you have a pocket knife, etc.). I use a small wallet, leave all but one credit card at hotel/hostel, and as you noted, keep in front pocket with the other holding the phone. I don't put my hands in pockets for defensive reasons but check often. I split cash between front pocket and under the sole of my sneakers/shoes (with the rest at hotel/safe if possible). Also have small dollar/currency denominations. take photos of Passport, Drivers License download to cloud, paper copies of both at hotel/hostel (also bring my expired Passport). If bags/camera case, they will cut the strap, thus strap and hold like a baby. Finally, if possible, get a name of someone important/known where you are which even if you can’t speak the language, you just ask for that person (this is better for islands as larger places my have factions). As you know better than many of us given your travels, it depends on where you go and to adjust accordingly. This year we are off to Cartagena and surroundings.


wow.. theses rules and regulation sure makes me want to abort my planned honeymoon in Paris...


For Paris, just carry around a Baguette (;


Thanks for taking the time to reply! I agree with you completely and have many of the backup photographs of passports, etc. I am actually off to Cartagena on Monday for a week or so. I will let you know what its like

Wow, this is so sad. Living in Venezuela I can totally understand you. I did live in Colombia 2 years and never got robbed. Lived in Mexico 5 years and nothing there either. But i live in Venezuela and I have to be honest. I'm the only person I know that hasn't been mugged here. I guess I have an angel. Still, I don't do crazy stuff and yes obviously, don't walk down the dark, dodgy alleyway.


wow. Can I borrow that angel of yours for a little bit? It is a little sad, as I really wanted to explore and check out Venezuela but was told by a few locals it isn't a great to visit at the moment. Is that true?

nice post is very nice information

nice post

Saludos @thomasjmitchell. Me tomo el atrevimiento de hacerte este humilde comentario ya que me he encontrado tu post dentro de la categoría de #spanish, al abrirlo y leerlo me encuentro conque está todo en inglés, por lo que vengo a hacerte saber sobre un pequeño error cometido. De ante mano quiero que sepas que la intención de este comentario es aportar un poco de educación, yo no he venido a señalarte ni mucho menos a juzgarte, solo he venido a querer ayudarte con un poquito de buen aprendizaje.

En steemit existen tags especiales que son los siguientes: #introduceyourself, #introducemyself, #steemit, #steem, #spanish y #castellano. Los dos primeros son para ser usados en nuestra primera publicación de presentación, el tercero y el cuarto son para cuando hablemos ya sea de la red de steemit, de la blockchain steem o de sus criptomonedas, y por supuesto, los dos últimos son exclusivos para ser usados en las publicaciones que estén escritas en español o castellano, también en publicación que contengan varios idiomas inmersos, entre ellos que esté el español. Suele ser típico, que hayan autores que escriben sus post en dos idiomas, inglés y español, por ejemplo la mitad todo en inglés y la otra mitad es el mismo post pero traducido.

En tu caso, este post está escrito 100% en inglés y usaste la etiqueta #spanish; a esto se le denomina abuso del tag (tag abuse), puesto que acá no hay nada escrito en español. Es como si por ejemplo, yo escribiera contenido sobre criptomonedas y usara el tag "art"; las personas que buscan contenido por el tag "art" les causaría un tanto de molestia encontrarse una publicación que no tuviese nada que ver.

Entonces espero que puedas comprender la importancia de hacer un buen uso de los tags. Por mi parte, una buena recomendación sería que aprovecharas ese cupo del tag #spanish con un tag que te ayude a darle más visibilidad a tu publicación como por ejemplo el tag #art ya que estás exponiendo una obra artística, o también te servirá el tag #photography por la buena fotografía.

Espero ser de ayuda con mi humilde comentario, como te dije al principio, no quiero que te sientas juzgado ni mucho menos señalado, sencillamente te hago este comentario con la intención de aportar un poco de educación y así ayudar al mejor desenvolvimiento.
Hasta pronto.

Excelente post te invito a revisar el mio realizo abras de caridad en Venezuela espero te guste te seguí ayúdame a ayudar bendiciones para tu blog!