One of the premises of my (long pending) book on travel safety is that travel should be an enjoyable and enriching part of life. This may not be everyone’s view on this but one assumption that seems universal is that nothing in life is certain. The object of the book is not to make you ‘ten foot tall and bulletproof’. Nor is it to make you overly cautious and restrict your life to your hotel room. What I am hoping to achieve is give you some new ways of looking at the world around you and some practical advice that you can use to put the odds in your favour.
I’ve named this concept the 10% advantage (TPA) because individually much of what is covered here relates to simple concepts which in and of themselves provide only a slight benefit. The real magic occurs when you make these into habits so that if trouble does strike, you have a TPA over anyone else in a similar situation. Let me illustrate this with an example. Suppose you are walking back to your hotel from a restaurant with a friend are accosted by two thugs as you round the corner. For most people, this is the point where they start to think about what to do. Ie. About 2 seconds before someone puts a knife in their face demanding money – which is way too late! You and your friend however have been thinking ahead so already you are aligned in your thoughts and action and are:
- walking on the best lit side of the road so you can see the area and individuals in it
- positioned in the middle of the footpath as far from the road and the alleyway entrances as possible so that you’re at least 2 to 3 metres away from any would-be assailants as you round the corner and have room to move towards or away from the roadside as appropriate
- subconsciously aware and half expecting that anything or anyone could be around this corner
- carrying some loose cash in a convenient pocket
- displaying an air of confidence because you monitor your environment and know you can arm yourself quickly if needed from a pile of loose bricks and rubble that you have just walked past
- you take a couple of subtle steps to position yourself such that a streetlight is over your shoulder, leaving your eyes in shadow but the eyes of your would-be assailants clearly lit for you to monitor along with other body language
- you and your friend adopt non-threatening but ‘ready to move’ postures (not only does this position you in a ready position but with both of you in the identical posture this sends a subtle message to the two thugs that you have clearly had some training)
- you have placed yourself so that there is a street sign or a bin between you and them such that they can’t charge you without having to go around it
- your friend has adopted a position behind and to the side of you and is continually checking behind to see if they have allies behind you
- you assess that although they paused after seeing your reactions, they are desperate for some money so you toss a handful of small denomination notes on the ground to one side
- your friend knows this is the pre-arranged signal to run like the wind and the two of you are back at the hotel lobby before your assailants have finished counting the cash...
Now will this approach work all the time? Of course not. Every situation is different but in this scenario you already had 11 distinct points of advantage built in to the situation compared to the ‘average’ person on the street. I’ll call this an ‘11% advantage’. Not a lot and certainly not strictly speaking, 11%. The point is that however small the advantage any individual item can offer you, they all add up to a significant edge. None of them require you to change your life, carry weapons, hire bodyguards or stop traveling – just for you to give some thought and discussion to how you move and think.
We’ll talk more about what sort of actions and thought processes you might choose to use and the where/when/how of these things but by the end of this book, you’ll have a shopping list of ideas to choose from.