Travelling independently is more exciting when you ride the country’s unique transportation vehicles. It’s fun to use the country’s cards or cash to pay for the transportation. You will be dealing with the GPS devices and maps. GPS? How about if the country you will be visiting has news that many pickpockets and thieves are targeting people in public transport?
Be careful and continue reading for you to stay alert.
#1 Look at the passengers first
If you had a hotel reservation, ask them if they can have a van or shuttle that will pick you up from the airport. If in case that they don’t have this service or it is very expensive, try to research the price of riding a taxi from and outside the airport. If buses and taxis outside the airport are located only a few walks, just go there and ride so you will be saving travel expenses. Be sure to look first if the bus is loaded with innocent passengers.
#2 Be careful with taxis or cab
When getting taxis, remember the official marked names and the plate number. Also remember the driver’s face or name if you could. Text to your loved ones the plate number immediately so they will know where you really are. Learn the routes and streets to the hotel so the driver will not get you anywhere and charge an expensive fare. Keep conversations in a professional level.
If you notice that something’s wrong is going on, ask the driver about this. If it is obviously a trick, attempt to get off the taxi and report this to the police station.
In case of places where you can hardly go commuting, download taxi apps (e.g. “GrabTaxi” app in the Philippines). It usually comes with an additional but not expensive fee. Better to have small amounts of cash so you will pay the exact amount because paying a big bill will have a higher risk of the driver not giving you the proper change.
#3 Avoid trains during rush hours
Avoid travelling within the rush hours. It is common that the rush hours are the time where people begin to go to work. On some countries, you will be experiencing heat, being pushed and meeting hot headed people in the train stations during rush hours. Long lines and crowded train stations are the norm during these times. Be safe and travel on non-peak hours so it will be stress-free and no pickpockets are on your way.
#4 Do not keep things on your pocket
While riding public transportation, never put things on your pocket. Place your backpack on your front so you can get a glimpse if someone’s trying to steal from you.
#5 Observe movement
If you notice that there are groups of people (mostly men) and they go to separate seats, usually at the corners, get off. They might be robbers and it may be a plan to hold up the passengers. On platforms or any pathways, if you walk and your way is being blocked by a stranger and another person is very near to you. Move away.
If riding tuk tuk, motor taxis or tricycles, observe the movement of the passengers. For women, be choosy with your co-passengers. Ride these vehicles if there are children or women.
At night, it is better to ride buses or jeeps (a kind of vehicle in the Philippines) than riding motor taxis. Many will be witness and will probably do no harm if you will ride larger vehicles.
#6 Choose whom to ask directions
If asking for directions, just go to the guards or hotel front desk. If these are very far, just look for innocent and decent looking passersby. Do not accept food and drinks from strangers. Also, remember the saying, don’t talk to strangers. Just project a though look so it will be hard for strangers to scam or trick you.
#7 Do not sleep on your way
Sleeping on your way will give thieves a better chance to take your belongings. Who knows, the person beside you will robbed you and upon waking up, you will notice that your valuables are now gone. If you have a companion, just take sleeping turns.
#8 Just give your belongings
If a robber is pointing you a gun or a knife, better give your things to them because you only live once. Your life is precious than anything. Give your belongings, remember the incident and clues about the robber and then inform the police station.
Learn basic self-defense and use the skills you have learned in case you feel that your life is in danger. For women, don’t forget the pepper spray.
#9 Do not become drunk
Being drunk will make you a prey on the streets. Kids and adults will hang around with you and get your money.
#10 Walk in groups
Walking there is like inviting others to ambush you. Walk in groups or walk to places where many people are there.
Venturing places through public transportation is one of the best ways to experience the locals’ way of reaching places. It’s cheap and you can travel everywhere but be safe until you return home.