There is an enormous amount of research and literature on a topic known as situational awareness, which in laymans terms is about:
"being aware of what is happening around you so to understand how your own actions will impact you both now and in the future."
What does it have to do with travel?
A poor travel related decision can have serious consequences, and unless you practice your situational awareness you will be more likely to make poor decisions.
So, how do we ensure that we have good situational awareness when we are traveling?
If you ensure that you always have an answer for these 4 questions then your situational awareness will be high and the decisions you make will probably be the right ones.
Scenario: You have traveled to South America, and you are setting off to explore the city.
What are the dangers to me right now?
Because you have done your research, as we will discuss in the next chapter you know that foreigners are a target for pickpockets and bag snatchers in this city, and you also know the areas of the city that this regularly occurs. You have confirmed this by talking to the hotel staff and confirming with them where the dangerous areas are for you as a foreigner.
What's going on around me?
As you walk around the city you are constantly aware of:
â€¢ Who is ahead of me?
â€¢ Am I being crowded?
â€¢ Am I walking too close to the road?
Is it safe to be here?
â€¢ Am I the only foreigner here?
â€¢ Am I attracting attention?
â€¢ Do I stand out as someone with money?
â€¢ Are my valuables secure and hidden?
What is my plan if things go wrong?
â€¢ Do I know where I am?
â€¢ Who do I call if I need to?
â€¢ Where can I run to if I need to?
Decision... Now you can make one!
Situational awareness is not a checklist of questions, but rather a way of thinking.
If you practice it you will find that it will begin to come naturally to you - then you can truly say you are an experienced and safe traveler.
You can practice it at any time. Sitting in a restaurant, driving a car and even selecting a hotel.
It is the foundation to safe travel.