With a growing popularity in outdoor sports likes hiking, backpacking safety is concern. Many backpackers travel abroad to hit the trails in exotic places.
Unfortunately, many become victims of crimes because of poor security practices. Criminals seek out backpackers because they are easy targets.
First, many travel alone to isolated places where a law enforcement presence is none existent. Second, backpackers tend to carry everything with them in their bags. Important things like passports, cash, mp3 players, and credit cards.
So what can you do as a backpacker to be safe and enjoy your trip to a foreign country?
Never hike alone. Travel with a group of backpackers instead. Besides, this will make your trip more enjoyable and give you the opportunity to develop friendships with others who have the same interest.
Inform family and friends of your plans. This will prevent them from worrying after not hearing from you after a couple of days. Many panicked family members and friends contact embassies and law enforcement abroad to start a search for loved ones after losing contact for a couple of days, only to find out later that the “missing person” was in fact up a mountain hiking, with no form of communication and in no danger.
Be sure to carry a small first aid kit with you. This way in the event that you are injured, you will have medical assistance available. You could also help someone else along the trail if they need assistance.
Also, make sure that you are physically able to take on the task of hiking. Here in Quito, Ecuador the altitude is an issue. In fact, it is the second highest capital in the world next to La Paz, Bolivia. Getting accustomed to the altitude takes time. So be careful if you are hiking in high altitude locations. Furthermore, any extreme variation in climate, which is different from that of your home country, can cause problems. Be sure to check out weather conditions ahead of time.
Use a skilled guide who is familiar with the area. This prevents you from getting lost or accidently straying into “bad areas”. Also, the guide will have local points of contact that he can reach out to in order to help in emergency situations.
Leave your passport, extra cash, and credit cards at the hotel in a safe rather than carrying them in your backpack. There is no need for these items in the isolated areas that you are visiting.
For those of you who enjoy hiking, backpacking safety should be a priority.
What other tips would you all suggest?