How to Avoid Getting Mugged while Traveling

19 January 2013
How to Avoid Getting Mugged while Traveling
Avoid Getting Mugged while Traveling

We’ll be honest here: it’s hard to stand convincingly and present one specific plan of action that everyone should follow when confronted with a potential mugging.

After all, there are many variables, including:

  • The physical location: in an alley, in a park, in the lobby of a building, close or far from other people.
  • The traveler’s personal circumstances: age, their physical fitness, their ability to defend themselves, etc.
  • The mugger: armed or not, working with an accomplice or not, etc.

It would be hard to say that a well-trained military officer or off-duty police officer should take the same steps when confronted with a mugger as an elderly couple would, for example. Still, we’d like to present some of the most highly recommended steps to preventing a mugging.

6 Steps to Mugging Prevention

Legal professionals agree, however, that there are a number of things everyone should do to avoid being mugged, including these steps:

  1. Do a little research before you leave so you know what areas are considered dangerous by locals.
  2. Don’t look like a wealthy tourist, even if you are actually carrying something valuable.
  3. Don’t let distractions get you in trouble (including answering your phone or texting). There are all too many ways thieves use distractions to get travelers to drop your guard: a pretty girl asks for the time, for example, while her partner shoves you into an alley.
  4. Don’t get caught out after drinking too much. This puts you in a position that’s far too easy for someone to easily rob, kidnap, or rape.
  5. Stay aware and watch the body language of others around you. Your intuition is an excellent indicator and if you get a ‘feeling’, get out of the situation.
  6. Look like you could and would fight back. Walk confidently and assertively. Your body language is being read by those around you and a mugger wants an easy, timid victim – not one likely to fight back.

The following topics will also help you avoid being a victim:

Ultimately, a mugging is a crime that thrives on the element of surprise and keeping your head about you and remaining aware can go a long way to help you avoid unhappy surprises.

When confronted with a mugger

When confronted with a mugger, the key thing to remember is self-defense and survival. Your goal is not defending your wallet – it’s defending your person and your life. Getting home safely to your family is job one when confronted with a mugger.

  • Give them what they ask for – especially when a weapon is involved. It’s not worth playing hero if you end up seriously injured or dead. Of course, if you’ve got your fake wallet that’s even better.
  • Distract them, if possible. If you’re positioned where you think you can get back into line of sight of others, complain while locating your fake wallet then toss it near the mugger and away from the direction you intend to run. Given the choice of chasing you and snagging your wallet and getting away, most muggers will take the second option.
  • Do whatever you have to to avoid being shoved in a vehicle. Scream, fight back, run – anything you can to avoid getting in the vehicle. Remember to use your knees, elbows, feet, and palms – not your fist. Unless you’re trained in it, punching is the least effective and can result in a broken hand (yours).
  • Shout or yell – with anger, not fear – to attract attention from others and discourage further pursuit from your mugger if you’re on the run.

After you’re safe and away from the situation, report the details to the authorities as soon as possible. If you’re unfamiliar with the local legal system, or are unable to find someone to help you contact the local authorities, get in contact with the nearest embassy. If your passport is stolen, you’ll need to contact the local embassy as soon as possible anyway.

See these steps for information on replacing your passport.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.