Using public transport is the best way to get around when you’re travelling. You’ll experience your destination like a local, and get to glimpse a different way of life. There’s so many other benefits, too; it’s affordable, lower on emissions, reliable if you get to grips with local timetables and usually easy to use, especially if you’ve made the effort to learn some simple phrases in case you need directions. It’s important when using public transport to be aware of some common risks encountered by travellers. Read on for our top tips for staying safe when using public transport abroad.
Take Time to Plan Your Journey
Wandering a new area can be fun and interesting, but it’s best to have an idea of where you’re headed and how to get back to avoid ending up somewhere unfamiliar where you might be at risk. Know which stop you need to get back to to your accommodation and the routes you’ll need to take. Be aware of when public transport stops running so you don’t get stranded somewhere. Find out if there are local transport apps, you might be able to use them offline or you can screenshot your journeys.
Keep an Eye on Your Luggage
Having your luggage stolen when travelling feels terrible and is costly & time consuming to replace your things. Keep your bags as close as you can to you and your group, in sight as much as possible. If you have to use luggage racks, make sure you lock your bags to the rack with a lock and cable so they can’t easily be taken. Try to keep everything packed away as much as possible on your journey, keeping your belongings out of sight and making it easy to grab everything when it’s time to disembark – it can be a scramble if you’ve nodded off before a 3am arrival!
Keep Valuables on You at All Times
Keep your valuables and documents on you at all times, in a daybag or purse, so they are always in reach and sight. Use a money belt or body pouch to keep your money and travel documents completely out of sight of potential thieves. It’s really time consuming and expensive to replace your passport or bank card when travelling, take the most care to always know they are safe.
Keep it clean to avoid illness
One downside to public transport is that they’re not usually the cleanest spaces. Many people will have passed through, potentially exposing you to illness. Carry a hand sanitiser so you can kill bugs you might have picked up touching hand rails and seats. A surface cleanser is great if you’re on eating from a folding table; you can clean down surfaces before you eat.
Blend in With Locals
Do your best not to stick out and make yourself a target. Tuck your jewellery into your clothes or put them safely away in your luggage. It’s tempting to keep your camera out so you can film or take photos as your travel, but be aware that this may be drawing the attention of thieves. Follow local customs when it comes to using public transport – there may be rules to queuing or where to sit – so you don’t stand out too much.
Avoid Sleeping on Public Transport
It may be tempting to take a nap on public transport, but you should try to stay awake to ensure you’re safe and aware of what’s going on. If you’re travelling with someone else, take turns to sleep so one of you is on the look out at all times. In many parts of the world you can easily take long bus, coach or train journeys overnight, which is it great way to travel a long distance cheaply. Many travellers take advantage of not needing to pay for a nights accommodation and sleep through the journey, but you should be especially wary of this if travelling alone. Try finding a hostel or hotel near the start of your journey that will let you rent a room for a few hours during the daytime. Get some sleep before your journey so you’re awake and alert. You’ll be safer and you’ll also get to see an interesting perspective of the country as you travel through the night and watch the sun rise!
Don’t Over Share with Strangers
One of the best things about travelling on public transport is that you can meet local people. It’s nice to have a chat and practice your language skills, but be mindful not to share too much. Don’t tell people where you are staying or too much about your plans, you may put yourself at risk. Even if the person you are talking with is friendly and has good intentions, you’re in public and other people could be listening in.
Public transport really does provide a great way to immerse yourself in local culture, just follow our tips above and you’ll stay safe. Before you head off, make sure you book in for a travel health consultation so one of our expert nurses can help you get ready for your adventure – book now.