After my post offering a few tips on London travel, I got the question I expected.

Did I feel safe?

My travels took place about a week before the story broke about that first van attack on a London Bridge which, just days before, we had walked across as we were exploring the city.  I felt a very personal connection to that story because I had just been there strolling casually past the very spot where a lunatic ran down innocent people to instill terror.  Then it happened again on a different bridge.  In both cases, the British people refused to give in to fear. I admire that attitude and agree that to do anything else would mean that sort of criminal action works to the desired effect.

The question was a fair one though and gives me the opportunity to write about traveling safely.

The first thing to do is put these things in perspective. These desperately ill-conceived acts, committed by people with something very wrong going on upstairs, are quite rare.  Once it happens it is magnified by press coverage for days and weeks, Sometimes, months after it happens because it is news.  You can’t get away from it.  That leaves a lasting feeling of dread in some people. 

I’m not saying it’s not horrible. It clearly is. But it’s not a reason to assume that it’s a common occurrence. It clearly is not otherwise it would not qualify as news.

With that said, it is possible to take steps to help ensure your trip will be as safe as can be reasonably expected.  You need good data to get to that point and there are trusted resources available to help you decide where to visit and where not to go.

If I plan foreign travel my first stop is the U.S. State Department travel alerts website.  That site contains specific information on countries that may not be safe and best avoided. The data is put together by American intelligence services and offers a concise briefing on specific issues and a recommendation on whether or not American citizens should travel there with cautions for those who plan to do so anyway.

Beyond the threat of terrorism or civil unrest, there are some things you can do to better protect yourself and your property. 

First, leave the bling at home. 

Expensive watches, jewelry, and the other trappings of personal wealth are just an invitation to be knocked in the head.  If you are on a cruise and taking a port excursion don’t take a lot of cash, all your credit cards, and adorn yourself with glittering temptations. 

We made that mistake once.  On a cruise line endorsed dive excursion. For some reason, my lovely other half decides to leave cash in her purse on the dive boat.  Why a purse on a dive trip? I don’t have a good answer for that one.

When we got back on board the ship the cash didn’t make it back from the diving trip with us. Not a terribly expensive lesson, but a good one.

Always be aware of what is happening around you.  Thieves are not interested in hard work so they welcome wallets in back pockets and hanging backpacks that with one quick knife slice drops all the contents into the waiting hands of some bad guy who disappears in the crowd. A real favorite of the purse snatcher is someone with a shoulder bag slung across one shoulder.  

If you feel you need more information on this and other good tips, in general, you might enjoy the writings of travel expert Rick Steves.  Just Google the name. He’s absolutely everywhere.


So, did I feel safe?  Sure.


Tom Freel