Go to safe countries
There will be few enthusiasts to go to Syria on holiday now. Yemen is not very popular either. Anyone following the news knows that there are tensions in certain countries and that it is therefore not advisable to travel to that country. However, even if a country seems safe, there can still be a security risk for a certain region. Examples are regional political tensions, ethnic conflicts, but also natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, forest fires or hurricanes.
On your government website, you can find a complete, up-to-date overview of the situation in each country, as well as travel advice. Check this in advance and change your travel plan if necessary! Check the climate information for that country too so as to avoid a hurricane/cyclone or the tail of one from wreaking havoc in your travel plans. Click on this link to get information on the potential risks for your country of choice.
Everyone has experienced this on a journey: upon arrival at the hotel, you are asked to give them your passport so they can make a copy of it for administration purposes. Sometimes the hotel holds on to your passport for a day or even until you check out. In this way, you run the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud. Incidentally, in Western Europe, a hotel is not even allowed to take your passport and save a copy of it in their administration, that is only reserved for a few (official) authorities.
Although different rules may apply in specific countries, in most countries it will be the same as in Western Europe. You can solve this problem by making some copies of your passport to hand over to the hotel. When you check in, show your official passport so they can check that the copy is yours.
Although occasionally a hotel initially made a fuss, they eventually were quite okay with it. However, if the hotel staff stick to their guns, it sometimes helps to pay in advance for your overnight stays as that is usually the only reason why a hotel would keep your passport!
Safe on the go
To get around safely, it is useful to take the following into account.
Use transport service hotels
Upon arrival at an airport, many taxi drivers “bombard” you. If you have already booked a hotel in advance, they often want to take you to another hotel. On the way they receive a so-called phone call to tell them that the hotel is unfortunately full and that you will be offered an alternative. If you refuse, they often become very annoyed. Therefore, it is better to book a transport service through your hotel in advance (sometimes a free service, but usually for a reasonable amount). There will be someone with a nameplate waiting for you and they will take you to your hotel.
However, that can also go wrong: shady taxi drivers just write the name of the guest and unashamedly stand at the very front with their own sign. Unsuspectingly, you get into the wrong taxi. Therefore, always check with the person that they have the name of the hotel you booked. If they don’t know it, they aren’t your taxi service. Hanoi airport is notorious for this. Hotels in that city often point this out to you in advance when they send you confirmation of the transport service.
In many parts of the world taking a taxi is very cheap, in fact many times cheaper than in the Netherlands. You can of course stick out your hand on street corners. The fact is that within a few seconds an old, rickety car will stop for you. The driver is happy to give you a ride for next to nothing. They are what you would call unofficial taxis. There are a lot of them going around, with no official control over them. This can lead to troublesome situations and they also don’t even know the road (well). It is therefore better to take a registered taxi.
The easiest way is to book a taxi via your hotel or restaurant. They often work with reliable drivers and can also tell you in advance the approximate price for your trip. Always sort it out with the driver before getting in so you don’t have a difficult discussion when getting out.
If it is a metered taxi, the price is fixed according to the meter. But many taxis abroad do not have a meter. That’s why we always advise you to agree on the price beforehand!
Watch your bag on scooters
In many countries you can rent a scooter to explore the area on your own near your place of residence. It is very nice and if you watch out for the many potholes and other unevenness on the road, everything will be fine. However, it is advisable to pay attention to where you keep your valuables during the ride. If you have a passenger sitting behind you with a handbag containing all your money, passports and other things you would rather not lose, you run the risk that, at a traffic light, your bag is pulled from the passenger’s shoulder or even cut loose. The perpetrators are immediately off with their moped and disappear into the busy crowd; you are then the fall guy! Every scooter has a storage place under the seat. Put everything of importance in there. This way you will be able to visit that beautiful temple and not have to drive your scooter to the nearest police station instead.
Hand luggage fixed to the seat on night buses
If you have booked a night bus, it is nice if you can sleep well during the trip without worrying about your belongings. Your luggage goes into the hold and is well shut in. However, in Asia, sometimes somebody climbs into the hold to poke through all the luggage. That is an extra reason to put your bag or backpack in a so-called flight cover bag that closes with a lock. It is very safe and your bag also stays clean in the often-dirty luggage compartment. However, remember to keep all your travel documents, money and other valuables in your hand luggage.
To prevent someone from getting away with your hand luggage during your sleep, you can take some measures. Wear money, bank cards and passports, for example, on your body under your clothes, nobody will know. It is better not to put your hand luggage up in the rack above as someone can easily take it “by accident”. Preferably fasten it with a lock to your seat or something else, so that nobody can make off with your hand luggage. If you want to go to sleep with your mind at ease, a bag or backpack with a metal net inside is ideal. It is then impossible to cut open your bag and take things out of it.