Wherever you are, staying safe must be among the top priorities. When students, especially girls, travel to other towns to study they often have to depend on hostels for accommodation. Sharing space with strangers is no cake walk especially if it is your first time, so keeping a few safety tips in mind would be common-sense. Staying calm always helps and also don’t trust any claims made by the hostels without checking out reviews from others who may have stayed or currently reside in them. It is crucial to pack right too before venturing out. Invest in a waterproof and lockable backpack or waterproof cases which will keep your stuff protected from inclement weather and prying eyes and fingers. We recommend that you also carry a strong flashlight, long lasting food items, pepper spray, water, medical kit and of course your own mental and physical alertness.
Choosing your Hostel Wisely
- Ensure that the hostel is located in a central place. This will not only ensure safety but will keep you in the middle of all that you need – walking distance to markets, access to places of entertainment, a local police station and more comfortable surroundings.
- Check out the security arrangements of the hostel too. A round the clock manned entrance, security guard, locked doors with security codes and proper checking of any outsiders and even vendors, would mean that the place is committed to keeping its residents safe.
- Preferably stay in a single room or a double accommodation. It is much simpler to keep your stuff safe when there are fewer people around. Even then, keep all your stuff locked at all times. For ladies, it would be highly recommended to stay at a women’s only hostel not just for safety but also for privacy and avoiding any uncomfortable situations.
- Ensure that your room has space for lockable storage or at least the hostel has lockers in which you could store your more expensive belongings (like cameras, passports and such) which are not used often. It is best not to flaunt these items as they would only attract the wrong people’s attention. For stuff that you need daily, make sure that it is protected by your own set of lock and keys. Keep the keys on your person and never lend your locking devices to anyone.
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- When you start out, carry just enough cash to last 2-3 days. There are enough ATMs and banks around to make withdrawals when required. Always choose ATMs that are in the market and not in secluded locations and never visit ATMs at hours when there is hardly anyone around. Don’t let strangers know of your ‘withdrawal plans’ – remain as inconspicuous as possible.
- Ensure that you carry copies of all your important documentation in a waterproof pouch and keep them with you at all times. One set must remain with your family and another set must be kept locked in a safe place, but apart from the original documents.
- Ensure that your phone is always charged and you carry a charger with you too. Keep phone numbers of family and local authorities on speed-dial and also written neatly in a diary or small notebook. Let your family have the number and contact information of the hostel you are staying at and also keep it with you.
- When you are staying with others over prolonged periods, you are bound to get friendly with them. Remember they too are dealing with issues of privacy, safety and being away from home. Be respectful of their space and things if you wish that for yourself too. However, it would best not to divulge too much information regarding family, money situation and the stuff you have.
- While staying ‘independently’ creates a kind of adrenaline rush that a lot of people love, it is best not to throw caution to the wind. Keep safe by letting your family know where you are, who lives with you and whether you are planning any trips outside of your current location. It is better to be safe than jeopardize the safety of your loved ones and your own.
Even while staying at a hostel you could remain safe and comfortable – all it takes is a bit of planning and prudent thinking.
Go ahead, experience freedom!
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