As with all good Self Defense, the process always starts within the mind. Thinking ahead almost in the way that we should drive on the motorway, with a focus upon the road we are about to enter, rather than just focused upon the space we are currently on. We also practice safe behavior in the home to try to prevent disaster though we have an awareness that things can go wrong so we have a plan b in case of emergency. A fire extinguisher or the fire service as a last resort. Personal safety on any street can be thought of as the same. Throwing punches are the last resort for emergency action, though there are many steps we can take to avoid this outcome completely. We can develop safety routines that become as natural to us when walking down a street as locking our front doors are to us when arriving home. By developing a streetwise mind, many bad turns can be avoided.
So here i am going to list a few ideas/techniques that can increase your awareness and therefore overall security and well-being.
1. Depending upon where you may be heading in the world, having a look at the home office website to check to see how safe the country is considered for travel is a must.
2. Most good travel guide books will have a section that will inform you as to what scams/dangers to look out for at your chosen destination. Which are the official taxis, Which areas of the city are a no go at night, pick pocket dangers, or carjacking potential. Being open to a possibility makes you much more able to see it developing.
3. Although not as vital nowadays with smartphones in every pocket, though still useful in case of no signal. Have a look at the skyline of the city you are in. Find a building that is visible from many places in the city which can then be used as a reference point for navigation if you get lost. A language barrier may make it difficult to get directions. Also be careful who you approach in certain parts of the world with the line, "hi im a tourist and im lost". How do you know you wont be directed down a dead end for a mugging.
4. Try to develop a General awareness of your immediate surroundings. There is a reason why very drunk people get mugged attacked beaten up and fall in to canals. Judgement and awareness is down. Though sober people can learn a lot from switching on more in their everyday. I live in a busy town center, and it is almost daily that someone with an ipod or just fixated on their phone steps out in front of my car with not even a glance. Yes i am talking about the students of this world. Its a good job that i am aware of them, though the same people are just as guilty the next day. When away recently i witnessed a tourist glued to a map with their back to the street and eyes down almost get run over. If you face the street with back to a wall whilst holding the map to eye level, you will still hold your surroundings in your wider vision.
If when walking down the street a very attractive person where to be walking towards you from the other direction, most people are likely to have their attention shifted as it is built in to our nature to notice. If a dodgy character where in your immediate eyeline our awareness should be the same. Though this should also involve the space behind us, especially when in a secluded area.
We would all love for the world to be a completely safe and fair place at all times, though we know that walking across a park drunk at 2 am is not a sensible pastime to take up. Walking a well lit route or taking a taxi is the way to go. Be aware of the dangers and this way you can avoid rolling the dice and taking the chance. Knowledge and wisdom always loads the dice in your favor.
5. When you arrive at your Hotel room or apartment door safety is a must. When is the last time that you changed your front door lock? Have you changed it since the last occupant? The point being, anyone could cut a spare key, so it here is not a deadbolt on the inside of the door, there are a couple of options to keep you secure while in your beds. A safety door wedge can be bought on line. Or a trick that i picked up from the film conspiracy theory from a paranoid Mel Gibson is to place an empty beer bottle on the end of the door handle, balanced to drop off in the event of the handle being turned. This will only work if it falls on to a tiled or wooden floor of course. Though my favorite is a bookcase or heavy bit of furniture wedged against the door. Might sound like too much effort but the warning stories are out there in the public domain, its up to you if you wish to listen to them, though i know if nothing else i sleep better because of these measures.
6. Another good idea in case a mugging situation happens is to carry a second wallet, in which you place some old credit cards and a few real notes separated by bits of paper. as it may be obvious that you are a Tourist a mugger wont believe that you dont have any cash on you so a second wallet should cause a quick resolution to the scenario.
7. Be mindful of being followed in to a public toilet. No one will notice if you decide to stop in your tracks, hold the door open for your pursuer, and walk away deciding to go somewhere else. If you are in dought get out of there. Though stay switched on. To show a shifty character you have spotted them can divert them, though depending on the scenario it could also escalate the situation. Always stay focused until safe. Never your back to the danger. Learn to use your wider field of vision.
Remember that the huge majority of physical confrontations are avoidable with awareness, approach, training and absence of ego. Therefore when you develop this forward thinking approach to your personal safety, actually needing to use your physical self defense is less probable. With a Self defense mindset the priority is always to look for the peaceful way out of a situation so that you can get home safe, and ponder on the close call you just had. If punches are thrown its because there was no other choice. Otherwise you choose to fight and played a pivotal role in creating the pending violence. The best approach to self defense is always without ego. You are no good to your family in prison or perhaps worse. Though if things do actually get violent there is no substitute to actual self defense training, taught by a school that specializes in this.