We believe that in the tropics safety must always be your first priority. You are going to have a GREAT time and enjoy wonderful beaches. These tips are collected from seasoned tropical travelers.
1.) Traveling: BE SURE TO SCHEDULE YOUR TRAVEL FROM THE AIRPORT WHEN YOU ARRIVE AND BACK TO THE AIRPORT WHEN YOU DEPART DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS. This is often overlooked. It is not wise to travel at night in an unfamiliar country. How are you getting around? Its very common to rent little motorcycles and quads. These do not mix well with drinking. The most frequent way tourists are injured is when using a motorcycle ATV or boat. A car is the safest. If you will be out late arrange a cab for safety. If you are going to be out after dark travel by car and in a group of people. Know where you are going, be familiar with the route and ask around. Never go out after dark alone. It is best to stay in groups all the time.
2.) Swimming in unfamiliar waters without proper footwear or safety arrangements can be dangerous. At a minimum educate yourself about rip currents.
3.) Crime tourists are often the targets of crime in tropical countries. Common sense applies but lets look at a few strategies to avoid being the victim of crime.
Avoid carrying bags especially handbags. Very often tropical pirates see women’s hand bags as pirate treasure chests. They love snatching them. PLEASE do not carry handbags. We know, sometimes you need to carry some things to the beach. We prefer cheap plastic grocery bags. It is the opposite of cool but also very unappealing to would be thief’s.
Leave your flashy jewelry at home, keep your expensive phones out of site petty crime pirates LOVE snatching things especially gold chains.
We prefer to carry $40 US dollars in a dummy wallet. Because we are careful we have never been robbed but if we were we would prefer to hand over some smaller amount and have larger amounts hidden carefully. In the very unlikely event someone holds you up for money give it to them and consider it your price for safety.
Don’t engage in prostitution for a long list of reasons but from a health and safety perspective its a bad idea. Very often police get involved with shaking down men who get mixed up with prostitutes.
If you have anything valuable you do not want to lose it MUST be watched at all times. If you leave your home unguarded you will be robbed at some point. If there is nothing there you don’t mind losing maybe its fine. Otherwise you must have someone watching your place at all times.
Be VERY careful about walking deserted stretches of road. One place we lived there were long stretches. Literally every high season we counted more than 10 muggings. The victims were always walking alone and mostly women.
Be creative about how you hide your keys and money when at the beach. This one can be challenging. If you like to swim a lot as we do where does this stuff go? We usually have keys money and phone in a water proof container. I like to sit down in the sand with towel and plastic bag and sneakily bury my valuables below the towel shoes and plastic bag. Sounds over careful I know but believe me if you leave everything in a backpack on the beach….just think about losing your keys, wallet, passport, phone ..everything to some bag snatcher. Not good. Be careful. Oh and dont leave your stuff where the tide will come in and wash it away 🙂 .
5.) Drinking water in the tropics. Where will you get your water? If there are larger supermarkets around you can buy your water there. Always check that any water you purchase has proper seals. If you dont have access to or dont want to pay for the more expensive bottled water there are some options. Bring bleach tablets for water and purify your own. Bring a small handheld reverse osmosis filter and filter your own. Use a distilling appliance. We used a distiller but were there for a long time and it is a large appliance. Often cramps can come with dehydration. Bring a good quality magnesium supplement to help deal with them.
6.) Know where you are and where you are going. Ask around a bit. Dont explore with only one or two people. Go in groups. Don’t walk alone at night or at all if possible and where possible be unpredictable. If you hire a guide ask to snap a photo of them to send to your family and send it while he is there with you before you leave. Make sure people you trust know where you are.
7.) The tropical sun is powerful and can be devastating. Manage it. It will burn you quicker than the sun where you come from.
8.)Power supply there are frequent power outages in the Dominican republic. If backup power is important to you ask about it. Many backup systems can not run Air Conditioning but can run fans. If you are there in the high season fans should be sufficient to keep you cool. In the Dominican republic summer some people will prefer to have Air Conditioning available at all times. Your host cannot predict the future but they can give you an idea of how often the power might go out. In Santo Domingo for example there are areas where it is shut off at certain times of the day every day in summer. In many areas power outages are around 3 hours a week. Chances are you will not be affected but it is worth considering.
This article applies to more than 25 tropical countries that are not considered “first world” (an unfortunate term) but certainly could apply to other areas. It is open to comments and will be amended based on logical, reasonable and location specific input from readers as it comes. This article will be most useful for people visiting the tropics for the first time but can also be a useful reminder/refresher for more experienced expats. This article does not generally describe the environment at a resort that is well patrolled and walled. Inclusive resorts are generally very safe the main safety issue related to resorts are travel to the resort, water and mosquitos .
8.) Do not go out at night. Many expats simply never go out in the evening. Things get a little weird at night. If you do. Go in a group, go in a car to a well-lit well populated area and don’t stop for anyone that tries to stop you including the police. In the unlikely event the police try to stop you at night pull over somewhere there are a lot of eyes on you. Or simply don’t go out at night.
9.) Stay in a walled compound with a security guard and a lot of other foreigners. Always stay where there is a security guard at a minimum.
10.) If you are a woman travelling alone. Don’t be. If you do, realize you have a massive target on your back and act accordingly.