The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do To Stay Safe While Traveling

Posted: October 6, 2012    Categories: Travel

I’ve been extremely fortunate traveling. In over five years traveling in over 100 countries I have never been robbed, mugged or even had anything stolen in my hotel room. Cross my fingers, I’ll be able to keep this streak going indefinitely.

That being said, I try not to do anything that will get me in trouble. I attempt to look and act rather innocuous, which means that hopefully some other unlucky traveler will get targeted instead of me.

However, in the course of my travels I’ve met many people and heard many stories of travelers who weren’t so lucky. In a shockingly large number of them, there was a theme which keeps cropping up. A thing that travelers keep doing, which is putting them at significant risk.

I have heard enough of these stories to be convinced that if you just do this one thing, the odds of bad things happening to you while traveling would be greatly reduced.

What is the secret?


Nothing good happens at nightclubs. Nothing. The best you can hope for is to spend outrageous amounts of money for the same stuff you could buy at a liqueur store.

Don’t believe me? Consider the following:

Nightclubs are prime targets for terrorist attacks. In what was probably the largest terrorist attack against tourists, the 2002 Bali bombings targeted tourists in two Bali nightclubs: Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club. 202 people from 21 different countries were killed. Why did they target a nightclub? Because is where you will find the highest concentration of people crammed into a single building.

Nightclubs are fire traps. Every few years you will hear a report on the news about dozens of people killed in a nightclub fire. On New Year’s Even 2009 I was in Bangkok and heard sirens go off in the middle of the night. I assumed it was just part of the festivities. In the morning I found out that 61 people were killed in a nightclub fire just a few blocks from where I was staying. Nightclubs are crowded, dark and will often have an over burdened electrical system.

You greatest risk of getting drugged is in a nightclub. I’m sure everyone has heard horror stories of women getting slipped date rape drugs, or of men who wake up in the morning with all their money gone. For this to happen, you will probably have to drink something that someone has slipped a drug into. The odds of this happening are far greater in a nightclub than anywhere else. Most clubs will very loud and crowded with poor lighting conditions.

Nightclubs increase your risk of getting robbed. Pick pockets require confusion and crowds to do their work. Nightclubs provide both in spades. Someone bumping into you is par for the course at a nightclub. Likewise, if you are going to a nightclub you are going to be bringing money with you and it will be dark outside. This makes it a prime target for muggers who are waiting for people outside.

Nightclubs are expensive. Lets assume your visit to the club goes off without a hitch (as I admit, most do). You are still probably paying an outrageous amount for drinks. I know of travelers who have dropped over $500 in one evening at a club. What is the point??? The money you spend on one night at a club could last you several night going to cafes or pubs.

Honestly, in my heart of hearts, I have no idea why people go clubbing. I especially don’t understand doing it when you are traveling.

Nothing good can happen in a nightclub.

Unless you are Jay-Z or Leonardo DiCaprio, you probably wont get much out of going to a club.

If I still haven’t convinced you, I’ll leave you with this:

Before Nightclubs

Before Nightclubs

After Nightclubs

After Nightclubs

There is no reason to go to a nightclub when you are traveling. Go to a pub. Go to a cafe. Go to a restaurant. Go almost anywhere else, but don’t go to a nightclub.

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