Hamburg - Any number of things can go wrong when you're travelling, and sometimes they can be truly ugly. One example: getting mugged. In some popular travel countries the crime rate is higher, and so it is advisable to take a few precautions in advance.
But also remember: Don't spoil your travels by worrying too much.
"If you travel with fear on your mind, things won't go well," says Steve Haenisch on his blog site www.back-packer.org/de. He recounts how he was once mugged in Argentina, but because he followed a few tips, the thieves didn't make off with too much.
Here are some pointers:
1. Store important stuff in a safe. This should be done directly after arriving in your hotel, or hostel if this is the case.
"I would always leave my passport and credit card there (in the safe)," Haenisch says. Meanwhile when he is out exploring, he only takes as much cash with him as he needs for the day. Also, he always carries a copy of his passport for provisional ID.
Haenisch believes that the most dangerous part of a journey is when on the way from the airport to the hotel, when the traveller is carrying everything along. "It's best to take a taxi or some organized transfer service," he says.
2. Carry a second back-up wallet. Haenisch says he carries two wallets. One is concealed beneath his clothing and contains important documents and cards. The second wallet contains a bit of cash and perhaps a number of customer purchase cards of less importance.
This is the wallet you want to be stolen.
"You have to have something to give to the people," he says, referring to the thieves. It is with this wallet that he will buy things at the markets. "People are watching you when you pay," Haenisch says. And where you stash the wallet away afterwards.
3. Don't show anything of value. Your smartphone should remain in your pocket if you're out on the streets of some big city. Nor should your camera be loosely hanging around your neck.
In some countries there are people called "spotters" whose job is to observe what tourists are carrying with them. The spotters pass this information by telephone to their friends waiting around the corner just down the street.
Haenisch uses his smartphone in closed rooms, such as in a restaurant, but not on the way there.
He does note, however, that in many central tourist spots in South America there are usually so many police that one can safely pull the camera out to take some snapshots.
4. Don't play the hero. If you really do get mugged, then don't try to become an action hero at that moment, Haenisch says.
"In this situation I'll think it better to hand something over than to end up in hospital." He can't emphasize the point too much: Everything can be replaced - credit cards, passport, camera. There is no point in putting oneself in peril on top of everything else.
5. Block your credit cards. Be sure you know the emergency contact number of your bank or credit card company to call in order to block your cards.
6. Other special precautions for the worst-case scenario: Additional travel health insurance coverage is always advisable, whether you become a mugging victim or not. Extra insurance might be advisable if you have some really expensive camera equipment.
As for passport problems, your country's embassy and consulates are there to help you, but it is advisable to study their security advice ahead of time about the places you intend to explore.