Complete Safety While Traveling - Tips & Advice

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COPYRIGHT 2009 thru 2017 - David Woodsmall

I researched most of this information prior to our 30 day African photo safari

I ASSUME NO LIABILITY - You do or do not do things at your own risk

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TRAVEL SAFETY - General Information - Tips

The main thing is to always be alert of your surroundings, the people moving by, do not have anything expensive that passersby could see. If you use that expensive camera around people, someone will notice that you have it. Don't travel down dimly lit streets or by gangs of "idle" people. In may cities and countries, it is best to take an offically sanctioned taxicab at night, and arrange for the driver to pick you up at a preset time (of if your cell phone can reach his, even better). Remove any branded camera Straps and cases - do not advertise that you have. Use common sense - avoid opening your wallet or removing cash from your hidden money stash while people can see you.

CRIME - PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL SECURITY - ATM - ROBBERIES

If you have concerns about locking up your valuables while on safari or traveling to that exotic town, you may want to ask specific questions of the hotel or safari lodge where you will be staying. We had NO theft problems and were NOT robbed, BUT we were a party of a minimum of six pople, and did not walk around in unsafe areas (we were usually driven by our Hosts in large 4x4 vans). We spent over 40 days in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South-Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and London on our last trip. In Johannesburg, South-Africa, our hosts were armed and the places we stayed in towns were surrounded by electrified fences. Most Robberies in Southern Africa occur at ATMs - use one inside a Bank, with armed guards. I've read that many petrol (Gas) stations now have ATM machines. While we had no theft problems nor robbery, I was surprised to find out that: In South-Africa, robbers sometimes follow their victims to their hotel and rob them in the lobby.

CAMERA SAFETY DRIVING THROUGH CROWDS

THEFT FROM CAR WINDOWS

Be careful drIving or walking in crowds your camera can be easily ripped from your hands. If you are driving with the camera strap on your neck, you could, possibly incur a serious neck injury. They can and do steal anything they can get their hands on (this is rare, but it only takes once). Our local guide was emphatic about closing and locking our car windows and doors while driving through crowds of people.

IN-ROOM HOTEL SAFES are NOT Secure

Many safari lodges do NOT have in-room safes, although some of these lodges can store your valuables in a safe at the the lobby (most Safari Lodges do not have this services). I have read reports of some less-safe lodges, wherein the crooks seem to have access to the contents of in-room safes (rare, I'm sure, but check the reviews on the lodge or hotel). Actually, all it takes is a long, thin screwdriver and a little searching on the Internet. I have a Milockie Hotel Safe Lock (Model #MK1000) that will work on Most in-room Safes. It may be possible to beat the Milockie, but at least the crooks now have to go through two locks. It is not cheap - I paid $ 70 USD in late 2010. See also YOUR IN-ROOM HOTEL SAFE IS NOT SECURE

LEG SAFES / MONEY BELTS

I used both a Money Belt and a Leg Safe. For the leg safe, You want good velcro (not metal hooks) to avoid setting off metal detectors - mine did not trigger any alarms. I have seen money belts with a non-metallic buckle. I had a third, over the neck "safe", that could be used as a more obvious method of hiding money (give thieves that one). See also: Complete Money Protection While Traveling

LOCK YOUR TENT

With some Tented camps, SweetWaters fro example, It is possible to lock your tent from the outside, (or inside) if you have a padlock with a long enough hasp - Of course, then the cleaning staff will not have access.

NO LOCKS

There are Safari Lodges that have NO room locks that you can use to lock your room while you are not in your room. Let me first say that no one experienced any crime on our travels, including the people that we met. While the staff were we stayed were very honest, I always wonder about the 15 year kid, next door. The Ark (a lovely place in Kenya) has no door locks - we had no problems. Sweetwaters Tented Camp has no locks, but you can use small padlock on zippers. Several of the better lodges had only one key for a room, so you had to leave it (if you wanted your room serviced).

PORTABLE ROOM DOOR LOCK

While I did not use it, I had a small, lightweight portable lock that could be used to lock (almost) any room door from the inside. I had read that there were many breakins during the night while the room was occupied, in a hotel near the Johannesburg airport - so of course, we did not stay there. This seem hotel had lots of stuff disappear from the locked, in-room hotel safe.

KEYS - THERE MAY ONLY BE ONE KEY

Some Safari lodges have only the ONE key to your room, so if you take your key with you, the cleaning staff can not service your room.

SKELETON KEYS

MANY lodges use "ancient" key types. I have a skeleton key that I got 40 years ago, and it could be used to open any of these rooms. These are the key types used by your grandparents. Hotels that use the "cards" to unload your room door, have to have master "cards" for the staff (which are usually very honest).

TRAVEL SAFES (not worn)

I also took a 20 Liter Pacsafe TravelSafe 20L Portable Safe (model #PE002BK). If you take one, be certain to bring a LONG, THICK cable that you can use to attach it to some immovable object. NOTE that there may NOT be anything to attach the safe to, in your room. Are there any pipes that you can use?

TSA APPROVED LOCKS

Use TSA approved padlocks on your luggage, especially, your checked luggage (so that the TSA can unlock them for inspection,without having to cut them off). Remember that on any flight, you may be forced to check ALL your luggage, because luggage space is limited, so always have spare TSA locks for your bags that you do NOT expect to check (I always have them locked, as well). I have been using the FOUR wheel TSA combination locks (three is too easy to figure out, and I have seen a multi-wheel lock that uses LETTERS, rather than numbers (yielding more combinations). I prefer the combination locks because there are no keys to lose, but it is easier to get into a combination lock than into most keyed locks. Personally, I think that padlocks that open with cards are silly (my personal opinion). You can buy TSA locks that tell you if the lock has been opened by the TSA, but then, what real good does it do to know your bags have been opened? unless you are worried someone will plant something in your luggage (which seems extremely unlikely). I doubt that airport security officials in other countries can open TSA locks without damaging them - I do know that my TSA locks on my checked luggage in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and England were never damaged. Complete Money Protection While Traveling

CAR WINDOW THEFT

NEVER Hold expensive cameras, Binoculars or other objects near your car window, when traveling slowly through crowds - it may get stolen, even with a neck strap (which could break your neck). Our local guide was emphatic about closing and locking our car windows while driving through crowds of people.

ALWAYS LOCK YOUR HOTEL DOOR and WINDOWS

ALWAYS lock your hotel room windows, deck doors and the room door. If not 2-legged critters, any monkeys in the area WILL get into your room and completely trash your possessions. I hear that you can never get the smell out of your stuff.

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Safety Travel Tips INDEX - JUMP Table - Click Once on the Desired Item

ATM Robberies | Car Window THEFT from | General Travel Safety Tips | In-Room Hotel SAFES are NOT SECURE | LOCKS | Follow - crooks may | LOCKS | Lock your TENT | Lock your Room Door (Portable Locks) | NO LOCKS - at some safari lodges | Skeleton keys | Leg Safes / Money Belts | Travel SAFES | TSA Locks | Windows - Deck Doors - Room DoorsLOCK Them | We created these websites ONLY to provide free information to help other people. We are NOT a business of any kind, and make NO money providing this information. NOT responsible for Errors, Omissions, out-of-date Data or ANYTHING. If not a quote, statements are opinions- other people's & mine. Note that some of the links are to companies that make the products they talk about. These are Personal Web Pages - Feel free to link to any of my pages. Privacy Policy - we keep NO information about visitors Terms of Use We NEVER get paid anything for endorsements of any kind David Woodsmall - Main Web page