Look at the forums on the Internet regarding safety and travel. Numerous comments recommend to stay away from dangerous places and to use common sense. This tends to be naive, however, as something that makes common sense in your homeland may not make common sense in a foreign land.

A very low-tech tool, used by police may be reliable in increasing your chances of not falling victim to a crime while traveling. Being aware of your environment is critical to your safety. But what level of awareness is necessary? The way to accomplish this is to think of different levels of awareness in terms of colors. White constitutes you not being aware of your surroundings due to distractions, being tired or assuming there is no risk of danger. A yellow state of alertness has you in a relaxed state but observing what is going on around you. You are not expecting a physical attack but are aware that it may happen. An orange level of alert is when you are aware of an impending problem that may escalate. This is a very volatile situation buy you have a plan of defense. You may not need to physically protect yourself but should have a plan on how to get away or neutralize the threat. The most intense state of alert is red. This is a situation where, if there is trouble, you need to take immediate action and your whole sense of purpose is to protect yourself by any means.

This skill takes practice and there will be times that you shift in between colors.  Here are some different scenarios using the color tool for safety:

  • White Bars on the window, full-time security guards and alarms may provide such an environment. Living in a nondescript home may also provide you with some protection.
  • Yellow When in public areas, you should at the minimum be in yellow mode. Practice knowing what is going on around you. This may include walking closer to the buildings, making yourself less of a target by holding your rucksack on the side closest to the building. You might shift your gaze from left to right and occasionally glance behind you.
  • Orange Imagine yourself walking down a busy shopping street in South America when a small group of children run up to you and start holding their hands out to ask for money. This is a perfect time to shift into orange alert. While the children may be harmless, you must prepare for trouble from any angle. It is here that you may have a plan in place such as making sure your briefcase or bag is closer to you. You could also look for a business or store to dart into. Being in orange when using an ATM is a good preventative measure.
  • Red In this mode, your safety is at risk and you must react immediately. Your adrenalin is running at 100 percent and you must take control of the situation. You must take decisive action to reach safety.

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