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5 Safety Tips for Flashpacking South East Asia

Whilst travelling to South East Asia is one of my absolute favourite things to do, it can be a very daunting experience, especially if it's your fist time doing so. Not only is it a long way away from home but arriving there, whether it's into a big, crazy city or a small island without any mobile signal, can be a huge culture shock (that's kinda one of the reasons I love it there so much.)

There is a whole different way of life from what I know here in the UK and whilst that means that there lots of new people, places and food to experience, it also means that there are different things to look out for and think about when keeping yourself safe so here are some tips and some things I like to do to keep myself reassured when I'm there.
Hidden Emergency Cash
The whole experience of having money stolen from you whilst you are out exploring a new place is bad enough; but the aftermath of being left with no money is also not very nice. If you are away from your accommodation on a tour for example, you were probably going to need it for food, water and transportation back so it is always helpful to have a secret stash on you that you can use in emergencies like this.

I also try to take as little cash as possible in my wallet on a day out. Just as much as I think I'll need and a little more I'd say, that way, if it does get stolen, I haven't lost too much. Apart from that, I find it very reassuring to keep one larger note easily accessible, on my body just in case. I'd either put it in my shoe or tucked away in my bra but whatever works for you.
Online Protection
Using the free wifi from hostels, coffee shops and airports when you are traveling around South East Asia might seem like the obvious thing to do when you need to get online but doing so makes it very easy for your online world to be hacked into. With access to personal information, someone can very easily ruin a trip, so installing something like Kaspersky Security Cloud is a great way to protect yourself online.

Having security means that any information input to a website when buying a plane ticket or booking accommodation for the next few days for example is kept safe. Also, things like passwords and other personal information such a private messages and data is protected against hackers; and because it is cloud based, you don't need to worry about it taking up precious memory on your laptop. More space for photos!
RFID blocking cards
Card skimming, also known as electronic pick pocketing, can be done from a distance and can result in credit card fraud and stolen identities. By just walking past you in the street, someone can skim all of your personal information from the credit card in your pocket. Passport and driving licence also have these chips in them FYI.

RFID stands for Radio-frequency identification and RFID blocking cards interfere with the radio waves, blocking the frequencies so that any information held in the RFID chip can't be read. They are pricey for a piece of plastic (I got mine as a gift but they were £8) but once you have them, they just slot into your wallet, in front of the important cards and could save you a lot in the long run.


Know Where You're Staying
This helped me out many times when I was in Vietnam and is something I wish I had thought about the year before when I was in Bali with Andrew. We were staying in a luxury resort but it was down a long, one way road and most of the taxi drivers hadn't heard of it before. If we had had a business card on us, they would have just been able to Google the address and take us there but as it was, we didn't and Andrew spent most of our taxi ride directing the driver which way to go. So this year, when I went backpacking through Vietnam, without Andrew (I have no idea where I'm going most of the time), I made sure to take a business card from the hostel out with me so I could just pass it to the driver and have him take me back.
Try To Blend In
Whilst I was very tempted to pack some of favourite holiday clothes and elephant shorts from my last trip (I snuck them in as pyjamas in the end), I think it is much more important to dress safely than fashionably when you are travelling alone. Instead of a bright pink co-ord that I might have packed if I was going on holiday with Andrew, I opted for a simple grey t-shirt dress so as not to draw too much attention to myself when wandering around the big cities on my own.

It's obvious that I'm not a local, of course, but I'd rather try to look like an expat that knows what they are doing than a tourist who can be easily taken advantage of.
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