“The Devil you know is better than the Angel you do not know.” -Unknown

You might think that you have experienced the worst case scenario in your home town, but it’s not until you change locations and travel to a ‘foreign’ land, that you realize that the challenges in your former residence were better than the supposed advantages of the new residence. This article aims to show you possible tips on how best to approach moving to a new environment and navigating its associated challenges. Certainly, there are advantages to moving as well – traveling to new places allows you to witness new things and have new experiences. However, like in everything, there is the need to be cautious and prudent in your decisions.

I have personal experience of the need for caution when travelling. This past September, I travelled from Benin City to Anambra State. Going to Anambra was a delight for me because it is my hometown. I had gone for a burial ceremony with my mum and dad. After the burial, mum offered to escort me to the park while she stayed back to carry out some customary duties because I was not so familiar with the environment. When she proposed to escort me, I was not keen on the idea. I felt too mature, secure, and confident. However, I was totally oblivious to the current happenings in the area. So, my mum convinced me to let her be my escort, and she took me to the park that bright Sunday morning. I am forever grateful that she did! Just as we arrived at the park, some men approached us demanding our phones. They were seven in number and pressed on us to collect both our purses and bags! Never have I been more frightened in my life. My mum was quite taken aback because the men seemed to be heavily drunk. Worse still, as the harassment continued, every passerby, and those present in the park were all ‘minding their business.’ I frantically beckoned on a guy for help, but he stared warily at me and went away. Luckily, mum was brave enough to scare them by threatening them with her nails. She was ready to leave scars on an unfortunate face. Soon enough, the men ran off. From this experience, I learned that it is important to take precautions while travelling in areas you are unfamiliar with.

So, how can you stay safe while travelling, moving, and migrating? Quoting Katherine Torres, she says: “even if you are not moving to one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world, it’s still perfectly normal to be concerned about your safety and the safety of your loved ones when you’re relocating.” (www.safewise.com) Therefore, it is necessary that you take precautions both before and after travelling.

There are 5 basic measures you can take to stay safe while migrating, including:

1. Informing a close relative of your travel plans

Following the first basic measure, it is important to inform at least one person of your destination and planned route. This is very important because you will be certain that there is someone who knows where you are and can look for you if necessary. If you encounter difficulty while migrating, they can help you from afar.

2. Reading and asking questions about the new environment

The second measure serves to give you an upper hand. Since almost every information is available on the Internet, you should be able to read up on certain characteristics of your destination. This second point resonates with Chinua Achebe’s words, “if a child washed his hands well, he will eat with Kings.” Translated in this case, the statement implies that: the more aware you are of an environment, the less insecurity you will experience. You can also research travel warnings to have a better understanding of what’s going on in the country you’re visiting, and know of especially dangerous areas you may want to avoid. Part of this research could include working opportunities, dress norms, types of food, certain cultures, and lifestyle in general.

3. Making yourself aware of common travel scams

The third measure is as critical as the others. Once you have familiarized yourself with your new environment, it will be easier for you to be on the alert and stay clear from crafty scammers. Be warned – no one is too smart to be tricked or robbed. It’s important to take note of and look out for certain scams like; the one chance bus in Nigeria; the milk scam in Cuba; ‘broken’ taxi meters in Costa Rica; the famous ring scam in Paris, and so on.

4. Saving emergency numbers on your phone

What more? Since it is said that “luck is when opportunity meets preparation,” the fourth measure for staying safe while travelling, empowers you to prepare by arming yourself with emergency numbers in case of an attack or accident. Most people already have the habit of saving contact numbers, on their phones and in a diary. If you save the local emergency numbers on your phone, they will be easily accessible in times of emergency.

5. Building healthy relationships with your new neighbours and the locals

Wrapping up the basic measures to protect yourself while travelling, is establishing cordial relationships with new neighbours. The famous phrase, “no man is an island,” cannot be outdated (even with the most extreme technological device). People who migrate to a new vicinity should be open and willing to make friends with the locals there. If not for anything, the locals will get to accept you as a citizen as well, and they will not view you as a stranger or an unwanted visitor. In addition, they can help you understand the culture of your new environment, which will improve your ability to make safe decisions.

In conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry. To stay safe, please put these measures into practice – even in your ‘homeland’ and neighbouring areas.

Author: Elochukwu Emeasoba





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