32 Street Smart Tips That Everyone Should Know When Traveling


  1. Research the city before you arrive. Figure out which areas are good and which areas are bad. Plan your trip accordingly. A good source of local info is the hotel desk clerk. Ask them about the safety of the city.
  2. Don’t walk around looking like a tourist or that you don’t belong. Walk with confidence and with purpose. Don’t wander around looking lost, meek and unsure of yourself. Always look like you know where you’re going, even when you don’t.
  3. If you are riding the subway, avoid getting into empty cars. Being in an empty train car isn’t a safe option for tourists. Always try to be in the car with the conductor.
  4. Don’t go out late at night alone, but if you do, avoid using the subway or buses. An Uber or taxi is a better option late at night.
  5. Never feel like you have to be polite or that you owe anyone an explanation for your personal comfort. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, walk to the other side of the street, change trains, ask for help, tell him to fu*k off.
  6. Pay attention to your surroundings when walking. Don’t scroll through your phone while listening to loud music. Gaining some situational awareness goes far in staying safe.
  7. Plan out your routes and know where you are going.
  8. Don’t engage with people who try to stop you on the street. Don’t entertain or acknowledge street shenanigans. Keep walking and keep moving forward.
  9. Don’t be a walking advertisement. Leave that expensive watch or purse at home.
  10. Don’t walk through any parks in the middle of the night.
  11. Don’t walk through dark alleys or desolate looking areas. Stay where the streets are well lit and where there’s more foot traffic and plan your routes ahead of time and don’t take shortcuts.
  12. If someone is following you, step into a shop, restaurant or bodega. People will usually leave you alone if you go into a store.
  13. Don’t share too much information with strangers. Never share your room number. If someone ask you where you are staying, give them vague answers or lie and tell them a different hotel.
  14. Don’t leave your drink unattended at any time.
  15. Always trust your gut. If an an area doesn’t seem “right,” then leave it and find a safe place where there are many people, or police, or security officers around.
  16. Look at the buildings. The sketchy parts of the city will have a lot of vacant, run down and boarded up buildings, metal bars on windows, liquor stores, cash checking places, etc. The safe parts will be in a lot better shape.
  17. Save the sightseeing for the day time. Don’t aimlessly walk through unfamiliar parts of town at night.
  18. Your chances of being a victim of crime dramtically increases if you participate in illicit acitivies (drugs, prostitution).
  19. As a woman. Don’t walk alone at night anywhere while intoxicated. Go in a group, grab a cab, or get an uber.
  20. Don’t talk on the phone, particularly if it’s late at night and you are by yourself.
  21. Stop using your back pocket. Don’t leave your wallet or phone in there.
  22. Always keep the inside of your car clean and free of anything of value that a thief may want to steal. Nothing is more tempting to a criminal than seeing valuables (such as purses, luggage, laptops, cell phones, cameras, etc.) in a parked car.
  23. Fill up your gas tank during the day time. You don’t want to have to get gas in some sketchy area in the middle of the night.
  24. Only use the atm during the daytime and never count your cash in public even if its in singles.
  25. If you are getting robbed accept it and don’t be a hero. Hand over what they want. Your life is not worth your wallet or cellphone.
  26. Park your car in a well-lit area at night.
  27. There is no shame in running away from a fight. Those who run away, live to fight another day.
  28. If you see something potentially illegal going on don’t look directly at them. Eye contact can draw unwanted attention towards you and put you in danger. Mind your own business. You didn’t see anything.
  29. Walk on the street if you’re in a sketchy neighborhood. Stay away from the alleyway entrances. You want to keep some distance from all potential criminals hiding in those crevices.
  30. When ordering an Uber or Lyft, confirm the license plate and make sure you are getting into the right car.
  31. Always trust your intuiton. If someone seems a little too friendly and you sense that something is awry, get away asap. Your lizard brain is sensing the dissonance between their body language and the message.
  32. Don;t yell back or engage with a group of guys verbally harassing you. Just keep walking. Don’t make a face, don’t change your walking pace, keep going as they’re not there.

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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