Last week I went to Porto, Portugal with my best friend Ellen. We had an amazing trip; discovered incredible viewpoints in Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, tried new foods like a Francesinha sandwich, and took a boat trip along the River Douro. When we were doing research for our trip, we had fun plotting everything from must-see sights to cheap bars (I’d recommend Base, it’s an urban garden bar in the city centre!), but we also stumbled across this handy advice for keeping safe in Porto and, indeed, every country in the world!
However, there are still some extra steps we took to stay safe during our holiday.
1. Stay together and #StickWithYourMates!
The easiest and most important thing you can do on your girls’ trip is to stay together! As with everything in life, you are much less likely to have problems if you are with someone else. Whether you are travelling as a duo like us or in a group of ten, don’t let anyone be wandering around alone. This will help all of you to have the best holiday you’ve been manifesting in the group chat for months!
2. Turn on your location sharing with your group
Almost every phone has the ability to share your live location with other people. For example, on iPhones, you can use Find my Friends. If you don’t have compatible phones some apps such as Facebook Messenger let you share your location. Ellen and I made sure we had our locations turned on with each other so that in the event we were split up we could find each other again much easier. We even shared our location with our families at home for that extra piece of mind! This function can also help you if someone loses their phone – make sure your travel insurance covers your phone too!
3. Pre-book transfers from the airport
We were able to pre-book our airport transfers with our holiday package deal. Arriving in a new place can be overwhelming and we were really glad we chose to pre-book our transfer rather than trying to figure out the public transport or find a taxi on our arrival – which was late at night due to delays.
4. Sometimes it is best to lie!
Of course, a great part of going abroad is meeting new people from all around the world from different cultures and backgrounds which is an amazing experience and can broaden your horizons! However, it is worth noting that sometimes it is best to lie or not to disclose information from people you meet whilst being abroad to keep you safe. Ellen and I were watching the sunset one night on a popular hill viewpoint, and we were approached by a man who invited us to a midnight party. We declined yet he remained persistent. However, once we said that our boyfriends were coming to meet us shortly, he left us alone! So, if anyone is asking you to leave with them, inviting you somewhere, asking for personal information such as where you are staying, don’t feel like you have to tell them the truth. After all, how will they know it’s not the truth?...
5. Keep your bag ‘Shelby Safe’
This tip was taught to me by my Philly roommate Shelby during my year abroad, and I have used it ever since both at home and abroad! If you have a bag with a long strap ALWAYS wear it diagonally across your body as this makes it much harder for anyone to take. You should also make sure that the opening/zip of the bag is facing forwards so that no one can subtly open your bag whilst they are behind you. The final step of keeping your bag ‘Shelby Safe’ is to wear a jacket on top of your bag, rather than putting your bag over your jacket. This helps keeps your bag hidden and less obvious to any pickpockets.
These are all really simple steps you can take to have a fun time abroad with your girls this summer – and back at home too! Remember to read the FCDO Travel Advice, sign up to email travel alerts and follow me on Instagram at @emma_cathro for more travel tips!