“I came from a real tough neighborhood. Once a guy pulled a knife on me. I knew he wasn’t a professional, the knife had butter on it.”
– Rodney Dangerfield
How to avoid getting beaten up abroad
The other night I was walking home when a guy on a bicycle rode into the middle of the sidewalk and started asking me questions. I ignored him and stepped to the side. As I continued along the dude started yelling obscenities at me, trying to lure me back over. I just kept going.
In every country around the world, including the Untied States, there are criminals who survive by robbing naive tourists.
Whether you’re traveling overseas or visiting New York City, I have a tip that will prevent you from getting robbed or beaten up:
The number one secret that will keep you out of trouble
If a random guy comes up to you and starts talking, walk away. I know that all those Lonely Planet and feel-good travel books gush about how some preppy white college kid learned the secret of life from a one-armed Moldovan beggar, but those are made-up stories.
Even the feel-good story of the century, Three Cups of Tea, was completely fictitious and a front for some fraudulent school building scam. When you travel you make friends, but none of them are homeless people or reformed gang members.
If you were back home and some dudes came out of an alley you wouldn’t say: “Perfect. I can learn the true definition of happiness from these fine gentlemen.”
You’d be running down the street trying to avoid them.
If any random person walks up to you on the street and starts a conversation, give them the cold shoulder and walk off. They’re either trying to sell you something or trap you in a bad situation. A lot of criminals and con men play a lengthy game where they try and engage you for several minutes before liberating your wallet.
Walk the walk
In addition to ignoring people, there’s another easy way to reduce your chances of running into trouble.
The first time I traveled abroad I was 148 pounds. Back then I got heckled fairly often. At least once a day someone would come up and bother me. Right now I’m 180 pounds and very few people approach me. I’ve seen a lot of tourists and backpackers getting hassled, but I’ve only been bothered about 10 times since I got here.
Additionally, I have fairly decent body language when I walk around. This has really helped me. When you shuffle around aimlessly you look like a target. Walking with a sense of purpose will protect you.
While I could probably plug a book on body language, I’m just going to give you some basic tips instead. These are simple but effect and take very little effort to implement:
- Don’t slouch your shoulders
- Don’t stare at the ground
- Don’t shuffle around
- Make eye contact with anyone who talks to you
- Walk with a sense of purpose
- Survey your surroundings before turning onto a new street
Not looking like an easy target is the best form of self-defense. People don’t bother a man who looks like a potential threat. This doesn’t mean that you have to coat yourself in tattoos and look scary, but you shouldn’t come across as weak or a victim.
Nothing deters petty thieves and crooks like a man who can fight back.