This question comes up a lot of times. They’re usually along the lines of ‘how do you ensure you’re safe during your trips?’, ‘Aren’t you worried?’ ‘What if something happens?’ and the questions go on and on and on.
I’ll put this out here so everyone’s mind is at rest. No where is 100% safe, even your bedroom. A trailer could crash into your home, that nice international airline you’re in could fall from the sky, you could get attacked at work etc. What you do is take precautions and pray to whoever you believe in to do the rest. The key words here are ‘take precautions‘.
These are a couple of things we try to do : –
- Don’t be showy – We know you love that Cartier watch or those diamond earrings but are they really important when going to a waterfall, exploring a tiny village or mountain climbing? This just draws unnecessary attention to you and sometimes you end up being charged more than normal. Plus it’s just extra baggage. Leave them at home.
- Do not go out late at night in an area you’re not sure about. The worst thing in my opinion is to be in an environment you’re not sure about (in terms of how secure it is) and wandering around at night. Keep your exploring to the day time and do as much as you can in that time.
- Accommodation – A couple of things I usually look at in terms of accommodation are where is it located? Is it central? What are the reviews? Is it located in a deserted area? etc. I usually ask people who know about a town/village for advice and if it’s a place no one knows anything about, google is your friend. If you look hard enough, you’ll find something decent. Now I’m not saying you can’t go to a town and just randomly choose a hotel (I’m guilty of this) especially if it’s an unplanned road trip, but you should scout your hotel of intent before checking in or ask the locals for options.
- Know your route – When travelling by road in Nigeria, everyone knows that some routes are notorious for armed robberies, kidnappings etc. Sometimes there’s an alternative route. It might be longer but at least it’s safer. In instances where an alternate route isn’t available, it’s best not go through those areas when it’s getting dark. Discuss with your driver (or people who are more knowledgeable) if possible on the best available route. If it’s public transport weigh your options as different services may offer different routes; if not, depart early. E.g On a recent road trip, I wanted take a detour and visit a certain area. It was evening, I ran it through my dad and he promptly informed me that the route was a hotspot for robberies and killings and so it wasn’t a wise choice to head there at that time. Of course I didn’t know that prior to my trip and after researching on this, I realised I would have probably not found a decent hotel in that town at the time I was heading there.
- Seat belts – While we’re on the topic of road trips, use your seat belts. I know it seems random but most roads are bad and you never know. Better safe than sorry. *an unraveller once pointed it out to us and we’ve been sure to mention it since then on our trips.
- First Aid Box – Cuts may occur, food poisoning and more so a first aid kit comes in handy. You might not be able to buy a box but a couple of bandages, panadols etc won’t hurt to have in your luggage.
- Learn the customs of the place you’re visiting – You don’t want to be lynched for wearing jeans in an area that is against it or committing some sort of taboo. You’re only visiting for a few days, you can do without whatever it is you find odd about their tradition.
- Listen – Don’t be overly adventurous. If you’re told a place isn’t safe or not to cross a line on a rock, or a guide tells you not to step in an area because the ‘gods’ forbid it, then don’t! Respect yourself and your life and just let it go. Will the gods really send thunder after you? I have no idea but I also don’t want to find out.
- Trust your instincts – It’s human nature to want to feel safe so trust your instincts except it’s telling you to do something dangerous. In that case, don’t trust it.
Most of these things are quite basic but sometimes people tend to take them for granted. It is expected that before you go on a trip you tell at least one person because you really never know what could happen.
I have never traveled with mopol (mobile police) because they’re quite expensive, they draw attention (if you’re with a mopol people will believe they must be something really important about you) and people with mopol still get attacked anyway so really who mopol epp?
Feeling safe and secure while travelling is really important and while this isn’t an exhaustive list, it should help.
What other precautions do you take while travelling?