Three Weapons You Can Use To Defend Yourself While Traveling

Personal safety is something many travelers put a lot of thought into when first striking out from home. It can be scary roaming into uncharted waters, unsure of what you might come across or whom you might meet. Traveling to a strange, far-off place makes one consider the possibilities: “What if I get robbed? Or attacked? Or assaulted by an angry mob? How do I defend myself!?”

Safety is key when traveling by yourself or even in a group. And while it is usually unnecessary to carry a weapon of any kind to defend yourself from such possible attacks, there are three weapons you already have  in your possession that I recommend you use to defend yourself while on your travels.

Your Smile

The first and best way to defend yourself is to travel with a smile. No matter where I am in the world I’ve noticed that a simple smile can make all the difference. When you find yourself in a strange or scary situation, smile at the people around you and they’ll almost always smile back.

Often times, travelers think that the people around them look scary and threatening. But what you don’t realize is that the people you are looking at see YOU as a possibly scary and threatening person. It’s like that expression your mother used to tell you when you were just a small child and you ran across a snake, bear or spider: “He’s just as afraid of you as you are of him.” The same is true much of the time when you travel!  The people around you are more afraid of you than you are of them. So, smile at the people you meet and let them know that you’re a friendly person who means to do them no harm.

A warning about smiles: When you smile at people, you need to be careful what your smile is saying. You don’t want to smile in such a way that it makes you look scared or lost. That is only going to make you into a bigger target. And you don’t want a smile in such a way that it makes the people around you think you are laughing at them. That could get you into big trouble as well! Ideally, your smile should make your look friendly, confident, and trustworthy.

So there’s your first weapon of self-defense – a big, confident, friendly smile.

Your Voice

The second best weapon you have is your voice. And I’m not talking about yelling and screaming at possible muggers to get them to go away… or yellowing and screaming as a means of calling for help. I’m talking about using your voice as a way to get people to respect you first before they even consider messing with you in any sort of way.

Consider this, you are walking down an alley at night and two strange men approach from the opposite direction. What do you do? You could turn around and run. Or you could keep walking and hope that they don’t say or do anything as you pass?

The better option, however, is to use your voice to your advantage. As soon as you think the men have made eye contact with you, call out to them in a strong, confident voice, “Hey guys, how’s it going!?” (Feel free to alter the wording here. This is just an example of what I would likely say.)

The trick here is to be the first person to speak. You want to say something to the men before they have a chance of saying something to you. Letting them speak first puts them in a position of power. But if you speak first, you’re the one in charge. So acknowledge their presence; say something to them in a loud, confident voice; and speak first if at all possible.

By saying something to the men in a strong, confidence voice, it lets them know that you are in charge of yourself and your situation. If you act confident, they may think you know them or you at least know your way around the city. Heck, if you speak first, they might even join you in conversation and turn into good friends, instead of potential muggers.

There are situations that happen like this all the time where a strange person (a beggar perhaps?) approaches and most people don’t know what to do. Most people try to just ignore the person and keep walking. But I’ve found that it is usually better to acknowledge the person, act confident and say something to them first before they have a chance to say something to you.

Here’s a funny little tip: If you see someone who is obviously begging for money and it looks like he or she is about to ask you for money as well, approach them first and try asking THEM for money! Taking this approach you will 1) deflect the advances of that individual, 2) not have to give any money to the beggar because he or she won’t know how to respond, and 3) you might actually brighten the beggars day by making him or her laugh.

Your Confidence

Confidence is your biggest and most powerful weapon.

If you walk around and carry yourself with confidence, few people will ever mess with you.

Hold your hear high, pull your shoulders back,  act as though you belong, and believe in yourself.

Think about it! If you’ve ever been to New York City (or any big city in the world actually) you know how easy it is to distinguish between the tourists and the people who actually live there.

The tourists are the ones walking around at a super-slow pace, with their heads and necks craned up at the sky, looking about in every direction – sometimes with a big old map stretched out in front of them. They’re taking photos, they don’t know where they are going, and they’re dressed like complete outsiders.

The people that actually live in the city, however, move in a completely different way. The residents walk quickly, because they know where they are going. They walk confidently, because they have an understanding of the city layout and they know other people in the town. They dress like the locals do, because they are one! And they certainly aren’t carrying a camera around their neck or a map of the city in their back pocket.

If you want to look like a local in a foreign city or state, dressing the part can certainly help, but confidence is key. Walk with purpose! Don’t stare up into the sky while turning your head in a million different directions. And most importantly, act like you know the place and the people in the area – even if you don’t!

The chances of you encountering evil-doers on your travels is very slim indeed. But those chances become even more slim if you carry yourself with confidence.

So act confident! Speak first! And use your smile to your advantage. Because those are three incredible weapons that, if used properly, will keep your safe for a very long time to come.

Photos by Scarleth White, SuperFantastic, and Mickael Casol.


33 thoughts on “Three Weapons You Can Use To Defend Yourself While Traveling

  1. Colleen Welch says:

    I agree as well. My dad wanted to give me a gun to carry on my trip down the Pacific Coast. I felt far safer with my smile, common sense and my winning personality (well maybe not the personality part)! Besides, most people are kind and generous. The news only tells the bad stories. There are far more good stories.

  2. Jeff says:

    While these are legitimate points, I think these three strategies still suffer from a bit of naivete. They may help deter some low-level, opportunistic thievery, but there is nothing offered here to help in a true attack. There are bad people in the world who will hurt you. A lot of so-called “defense” training is aimed more at feeling safe than actually being safe. True safety first requires recognizing the threats that do exist. Only after that step can you begin to plan for and address those threats.

    Do research. Gather data about your destinations and intended routes. Talk to the locals. Bad people exist everywhere in the world, but there are certain areas that are known to hold more of them. Avoid the bad places. Sometimes that means avoiding a neighborhood; sometimes it means avoiding a country. The State Department does a great job of evaluating the overall crime risk in large areas. They don’t collect data to break things down into smaller areas, though. Sometimes there is a safe way through an otherwise dangerous area, but finding it usually requires local intel. We all have differing degrees of risk that we are willing to accept. At 19, I would have gone almost anywhere in the world. Being older now, and married, there are places I wouldn’t take my wife, and some places that I wouldn’t even go alone. A little risk adds excitement to life. Excessive risk is just stupid. To make a logical decision, you have to know both the relative danger present in an area and also your own level of risk acceptance.

    Be alert. Smiling at people and talking are two ways to demonstrate your alertness. Walking around with your head in a guidebook will get your pockets picked in some areas and could get you killed in others. But it isn’t enough to smile. Pay attention to who is around you. Even in foreign cultures, troublemakers can often be spotted. Stay alert so that you see them early and can avoid them, or at least prepare for them. Don’t stumble drunk back to your hotel–drunks are the low-hanging fruit of the world; they are targeted for crime everywhere.

    Blend in. This is hard to do on a bike. Cyclists, to some extent, invite the stares. But when you are walking around, try not to stand out. Yellow jackets may add safety on the road, but they don’t help to look like a local in an Argentinian village. Ditch the spandex and cycle shoes. And have some modesty. In many parts of the world, a woman walking around in skin-tight shorts will be viewed as if she were walking topless through Nebraska. Learn a few words of the language. At least, Hello, Excuse me, Please, and Thank you. That can go far towards helping you go unnoticed.

    I personally carry some tools to assist in my defense, but I’m not going to launch into a discussion of what to carry or of the alternative uses for a bike chain. For those topics, I would encourage someone to seek out that information from a source more centrally focused on such things.

    Don’t live in fear, but don’t be oblivious to danger. Ride safe.

  3. Stephanie Samek says:

    I agree with Colleen — don’t be stupid, but don’t be paranoid either. The media makes people believe they can’t do anything outside of their comfort zones without great risk. It’s not so risky if you know where you’re going, and have done your research, as another poster suggested. I traveled for a week alone in Northern Michigan (so scary!) and you would have thought I’d climbed Everest the way people acted. People are friendly 90% of the time. Next time I’m going to try camping outside of state parks!

  4. Siavash says:

    i agree with Stephanie…i want to go traveling around iran with my bike and nothing can’t stop me because i must to go and i need it! but well i should have done my research and it’s enough…i have a problem in my country and that’s TOURISM have no position in this country and a few presons care about it….but we try to fix it, it’s a long long way…….

  5. Pete Gregoire says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the advice given by Darren. I walk with confidence and I rarely get messed with. Everyone that commented on my recent 800 mile ride expressed their concern about my safety in riding alone, but for me I didn’t even think twice about confrontations with people. In fact, everyone I met, and I mean everyone, was extremely nice and usually very helpful. Of course I was riding across the upper midwest so I didn’t have to worry much about cultural differences.

    The one thing that I did learn though is that dogs do not respect their boundaries and I have the scar on my leg to prove it. I learned quickly after my first attack and was more prepared for the 2nd one, unclip and get ready to kick! In hindsight I wish I had some pepper spray.

  6. Defensive Cycling says:

    This is a good post and what you say about portraying self confidence is solid advice, a strong body language will deter most low level crime. Jeff’s post is excellent and should be combined with the original post to put together a full defence system. Getting intel is absolutely crucial before starting out. The first rule of staying safe is to avoid dangerous areas. We all love adventure and we all need some but to wander ignorantly into potential danger is at the best bad planning and at the worst sheer stupidity.

  7. Paul Fish says:

    I have slept off the road on a bicycle trip, been in bad areas of a city, I usually do try to keep an eye out for strangers comming up to me in the field. I am friendly and do at least say hello to others. Traveling on bike is very familiar to me, it is the getting me started that is where the effort comes into play.
    A word of caution about carrying a handgun on a bike, I happen to have the Police Mountain Bike book about trainning, mannuvers, what can be done and not done on a bike. A handgun CANNOT BE FIRED WHILE ON THE BIKE. A dismount has to be made first; usually onto the left side, the bike is pushed over and thrown down by technichque, then once the feet hit the ground, then one can shoot. The libility is just to great to make a mistake.
    I agree with the article about talking first and to ask for money first, I usually as for a fifty dollar bill or a hundred dollar bill and they will laugh it off. I tell them that I am very short on funds as well and do need the help. They get away from me.

    What I do watch out for is this, if a person I really don’t know comes up to me and is too friendly, I watch out, especially if they want me to share a hotel room with them for free. If I know this person, then I will, if I don’t know them then I will not. Part of my personal experience strength and hope comes from hitchhiking accross the United States many times. I have gotten stuck in places that I truly did not want to be stuck at. Some places I could not get a ride to get out of there. So with a bike I can keep on ridding.
    In closing I did meet some good people in Kentucky and Tennisee that were friendly and had good motives. I just listen, and will take a chance, if I am wrong then I know how to leave… Paul

  8. Steve Abrams-Fleming says:

    If there is anything good to say about being 55 years old now, it is that I have a more realistic view of people. While it rather depresses me and makes me kinda anxious that I carry a light pistol when I take long rides in the USA…it is a fact of life that bad things happen to good people and I feel that I must be prepared for that situation. I feel more secure and confident knowing that if my smile and intuition fail me, I have at least 6 painful lessons ready to fly at the bad guy doing me wrong. Does that kinda clash w/ the image of the “carefree spirit” ridin’ the American “open road” like in a Kerouac novel? Probably. But I’d rather be a LIVE cycnical spirit than a DEAD naive one. Of course, if I’m riding w/ a large group of people, the S&W usually stays at home.

  9. Steve Abrams-Fleming says:

    PS…I, of course, have a “Concealed Carry Permit” for my state. When travelling through others though, do consult the internet for their particular firearms policies.

  10. Jeff says:

    You are not alone. The stereotypes around cyclists and CCWers may seem to be mutually exclusive, but there are plenty of well-prepared riders out there. I may trim back to a good folding knife if I am shaving weight for a race, but on any non-race day you can expect to find a Glock 19 among my riding kit. When touring the world, you may have to leave the guns behind in order to not run afoul of another country’s laws. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have something (like a good knife) for defense. I feel better able to smile and enjoy the company of strangers when I am confident that I am prepared to deal with problems should they arise.

  11. ConnieD says:

    I have a mirror that fits on my eyeglasses.
    Even so, my greatest concern is aggressive drivers. I had one car literally brush my jacket. I recall the woman who deliberately hit a line of four or five bicyclists. I actually overheard a man who bragged he rode motorcyclists off the road.
    This is, actually, the reason I purchased a folding bicycle: I drive to bicycling destinations, places I feel are more safe for bicyclists.
    I think having a gun, where it is legal, makes good common sense. However, as a practical matter, there are very few circumstances for a gun. That, and the information at the NRA website is unreliable: I know that first hand. I even added a courtesy inspection of my vehicle by a police gun range rangemaster. He gave me bad information. Lawyers refuse. The criminal law lawyers only want to be hired after the crime. The DA’s office refused to give out information. It used to be possible to call BATF in the state, you would be traveling, ask questions and be okay. I did not find they would still do that.
    Even pepper spray is illegal in places.
    My nephew rode from Portland, OR to Portland, ME. He said, he has a squirt gun with vinegar in water for dogs. He said, that works.
    As for two-legged predators, I think alertness, awareness of your surroundings, and the “good bearing” that arises from true confidence prevents becomming prey.

  12. Jeff says:


    Gun laws do vary radically from state to state, which makes long trips difficult to plan. And some state won’t let you carry at all. The best online resource I have found is this:

    As always, don’t accept what you read on the internet as gospel truth. But the info on this site is fairly reliable. It is much more frequently updated than the NRA’s site, which is important since gun laws seem to change with the wind.

    I’m a criminal defense attorney and I’m always willing to talk to people about what they can and can’t do–BEFORE they find themselves in need of my services. But I practice law in Alaska, and I’m just not knowledgeable enough to give advice on what is legal in other states. And for advice on interstate travel, you would ideally want to talk to a lawyer in each state. That’s not very practical, though. I do my own research before travelling, and I will make minor adjustments to how I do things in order to comply with another state’s law. But I will also sometimes just flat-out make the decision to break the law. There is certainly a risk to it. You play by big boy rules, and if you get caught you’ve got to pay the price. But–to use an old adage–I’d still rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.

  13. aaron says:

    I guess it really depends on where you are riding and what you are doing. I would not be so concerned about having to use weapons against people, but if you are the type to do remote back country tours a gun might be useful (even if just as a noisemaker to scare off a bear). on the other hand, I usually will carry a knife when spending long periods outdoors, a good knife is not just a weapon, it is a tool that can help in many situations.

  14. Paolo says:

    Well all this gun tottin’ has got me not wanting to hag out with the american cyclist now!
    In a reality unless you are tactically trained or in a position where you actually have the advantage in firing, I would argue a gun is going to be of little use. because if you are confronted at close quarters by 2 or even 1 attacker you have to draw your weapon, fend off the initial physical attack and then aim and fire in a way that disables the attacker or stopping them dead! In all rationality this is a lot going on in a few seconds which definitely removes the ability for either party to back down!
    So be confident smile and take the charge! also plan a little and understand what is happening around you.
    Happy and Weapon free cycling!!!
    p.s. a knife is not necessarily a weapon it is a tool for eating and preparing food but at close quarter is probably one of the most effective weapons if one ever needed to resort to such an extreme measure!

  15. David says:

    For those who like to carry guns with them…. don’t try that in the UK unless you want to extend your visit here to see the inside of our prisons. I think it’s a minimum 5 year term for unlawful possession of a firearm, and carrying one around on a bicycle definitely wouldn’t be lawful here.

  16. JeffP says:

    One piece of advice I didn’t see in the article – take your riding glasses off when you approach people or start a conversation. It seems to make the other person more comfortable and friendlier, and so less inclined, maybe, to evildoing.

    I carried an expandable baton (a very useful weapon, better than a knife if you know how to use it) in a holster clipped onto my Camelbak strap on a recent tour in Eastern Europe, ‘for dogs’ I told anyone (including certain border guards) who asked about it. They seemed amused and let it go. I’m not sure that this would pass in Western Europe, though.

    A gun? Yeah, I do, a very lightweight Keltec .32, when overnight touring in my home state, where it’s legal to do so. But if you elect to follow suit, I’d highly recommend that you take some kind of rules of engagement course for your state, so that you understand the legal parameters and repercussions of actually using the thing. The presence of a gun can escalate an ugly situation to highly nasty in no time at all, and one can get into a lot of very serious trouble very quickly if one makes a rash decision.

  17. BigAl says:

    Having watched the son of a friend go to jail after using a knife to fend off two attackers, with his knife fatally injuring one of them, carrying weapons in many states puts you at very serious risk of jail if you use them. Stand your ground laws are the exception, not the rule, and finding a way to escape is far better than standing and fighting in nearly every case.

  18. Matamoros says:

    I would much rather go to jail, than allow some lowlife harm me my family or I. If more men stood for what is right and just, instead of cowering behind the potential ramifications of what may happen if you defend yourself, we would all be much safer.
    It’s been a sad decline in justice from the days of the past when men could and would call each other out and demand civility. You can never legislate it, it only comes from men (and women) willing to put their lives on the line for what is correct. Like my brothers in Afghanistan…
    I can hear what some of you are thinking, “But my bike isn’t worth my life!” Really? How about you child’s life, or a loved one’s? When do you say enough is enough? The second you assault me in any fashion, you have just abrogated your right to life. You started it, and i will finish it.

    Good points made:
    Training is important, the better trained you are, the better your chances.
    Be aware, and be prepared.
    Don’t go places you don’t belong!
    Be stealthy, not sneaky.
    Dogs are more of a concern than two legged predators.
    A1911 in the hand is better than two cops on the way.

    Last but not least, I am frequently asked why I carry a 1911.
    Because a cop won’t fit in my pannier.

    Santiago Matamoros

  19. Nish says:

    I will put here some advice for you to consider:

    1) carry a pepperspray of good quality, and practice before ever need to use it. You need one that shoots far as possible and each shoot last more than a few seconds. This is for dogs and humans alike. You have to have the spray near you, on you, at all times.
    2) take a self-defense course, will raise your self-esteem on the road and might actually save your life one bad day
    3) never ride in the dark. Make a plan to have reached the destination 2 hours before the sun is due to set. You need those 2 hours of afternoon daylight in case you did not reach the destination on time, to search for ‘wild camping’ or to find another hotel.
    4) don’t ride into cities, I think more dangers are found there regarding mugging/attacks than in the country side.
    5) stick to your plan, really research your entire trip and ”go the trip’ with google maps before you attempt it. Set milestones and plan the trip as comfortable as possible.
    6) Stay strong. To do this you need to shower with hot water every day you tour with the bike. You need to flex and relax the muscles. Eat well, avoid starches and flour/sugary stuff, pile on lean protein, vegetables and fruits, nuts and lots of water (not soft drinks). you might need dry fruits and nuts for those moments in between meals. Take a multivitamin. Have a first aid kit always with you.
    7) Technology: GEt some kind of gadget to recharge your celphone even a little in order to do a possible emergency phonecall. You never know. This gadget might save your life. Get a celphone that is simple and light and will recharge easily. POssibly a cheap one that is light, not a smartphone.
    8) Get a smartphone for internet /maps from google but know that if you are in the middle of nowhere and have no battery you are ‘done’. Do have a paper map with you and take care of that.
    9) As Daren Alf says often, don’t stik out as a rich tourist. Wear simple clothes and downplay them even more when off the bike. Mingle with locals. It helps to merely immitate them and pretend you are a local.
    10) Communication. Don’t admit to anyone that you travel alone. Taxi drivers, hoteliers, even police, don’t tell them you are completely on your own. Say you are going to meet a friend from your country who lives in the local area and throw a name and an areas name to make it ”true”. Use your smile but in a way that shows confidence not fear.
    11) Have a B-Plan or have the ability to make b-plans while on tour. Dont be afraid to stop or change the trip if something is not going according to plan (some area got flooded etc). Dont take risks. If your route is under water because of a flood, dont do it thinking you are just a little over water. Unless you are in a big team and there is someone to rescue you when you need it but even then its not a good choice. DETOUR !!!
    12) Hotels/empty hostels: Carry a door stopper to use from the inside to stop any weirdo cheap hotel/hostel employees from creeping in at night or drunk people.
    13) Don’t trust people no matter how good they sound. You may be presented with a great opportunity. You should really take it slow and think hard. A luxury room offered by the hotelier? Maybe he will ask something from you in return afterwards, and god knows what that may be….
    Don’t accept freebies unless they are given in public (with third parties witnessing the agreement/offer and those third parties being also trustworthy).
    14) Women: Must really learn to communicate boundaries with men. In many countries even looking a man in the eyes is communicating ”romantic” interest (same could be true for gay men). You may find wearing glasses a nice solution to avoid such issues. If its nighttime,wear glasses made for the night (yellow). Try to mind your business and say you are meeting a friend in the village/town/area. If a man asks you personal questions, completely ignore him.

    And a final note: About warmshowers/couchsurfing/other networks: Also be very careful (especialy women) with those too. The fact that someone has many references does not mean you are super safe. One rape case in England came from a guy who had several positive references on his profile. Many people are okay but when they see an opportunity for attacking others, they find little inhibitions. Use your critical mind when sleeping in strager’s home and maybe only sleep with women/couples/men living in shared flats. It helps to have a b-plan, visit the guy/girl from the network but if something is wrong, know which hostel is nearby. This b-planning and detouring will possibly save your life.

    Hope that helps!

  20. Philip says:

    Scary to read some of your comments… I’ve rod from Calgary AB down to San Diego. Nothing happened. I’m from Switzerland, and traveled by my self for two and half months across US. Just met wonderful people I have to say.
    I was a bit scared about crossing some bears in Montana and California but I had the chilly spray with me, which was suggested to buy at MEC in Calgary. Did not use it once :). Dogs are a problem in some remote areas, especially close to farms. I had my 40km/h speed rush to escape one angry dog. (Fully charged).
    Cycled through inglewood LA, day time, nothing happened even if it was a bit scary.
    I think all the reason Daren wrote are usually enough.
    Safe journey to all!

  21. Ian Pavey says:

    I can’t believe I’m reading some of these comments, regarding carrying guns and other weapons. Is this symptomatic of the current culture of fear and paranoia in the US? I’ve done a stack of cycle touring, mainly Europe, and when I was a lot younger, plenty of hitchhiking. I agree with the author that your demeanour, and how you carry yourself is probably your best friend. What you should avoid is naivety, and a bit of research about the common scams or dangers in a particular country is not a bad idea. The worst thing you can do though, is listen to the doomsayers who will try to dissuade you from travelling anywhere interesting or a bit off-beat. If they start telling you how awful or dangerous a place is, ask them this: “Have you ever been there?” If the answer is “No”, then politely ignore them. Oh, and if you’re in Australia, please don’t carry a gun. Despite the efforts of some fringe groups, we don’t have a gun culture, and we’d like to keep it that way.

  22. Andrew Hendrickson says:

    I’m honestly not sure what some people are so terrified about.. At the age of 20, I set off by myself on a 6 month bike ride across the US (Oregon, Maine, Florida), which I’m still on. In the last 5 months, I’ve not met any unfriendly people, I’ve only been chased by dogs that either couldn’t keep up, or were truly terrified of me, and so posed no threat, I have seen a coyote, but even in north Idaho or Montana (where people carry guns because of animals, more than for people), I’ve not seen any animals bigger or more threatening than a deer (I camp out half the time).

    Yes, there are risks to traveling, and occasionally someone will get hurt or killed.. Yes. You do have to be smart. Riding through Juarez one would have to be more careful than, say, Cleveland. I wouldn’t sleep in a park in a city or large town. (Churches work well, though, particularly in suburban areas). I honestly think it’s safer to travel through many of the places I’ve been than to live there, and I have avoided cities which locals have repeatedly told me to avoid (Gary, IN, Camden and Newark, NJ).

    But the greatest risk by far (by a huge margin) is cars, and you’d have to worry about them if you drove to work anyway..

    I take great pleasure in reading the recommendations of the paranoid, and checking off a list: “Tell people where I’m going? yup. Tell people how much money it’s costing, or how much I spent on equipment? yup. (of course, I got some really good deals, and am living on very little). Stay with complete strangers? all the time. Carry gun, pepper spray, billy club, stun gun, katana? nope. Self defense training? nope. Ride after dark? frequently. Trust people? always. (though no one has made an amazing enough offer I had reason to be suspicious). Be friendly? always. (ok, this is a huge safety measure right here). Paper map? Nope. (though I do have a good charger for my phone).”

    I would have to be more careful if I were in a more lawless country or city, but I’ve never felt unsafe on this trip.

  23. Sam says:

    Only people that don’t carry are those that have yet to be in a life death situation, or in other words, the slave to another person. The reason “The News only shows bad things” is because well bad things happen. How hard is that to comprehend? One thing for certain in all bad things, the person having the bad thing happen to them, well, they were the ones smiling, until the news reported them raped, stabbed, killed. I don’t go to other countries that won’t let me carry my glock, therefore I’m not going to worry about jail time there.

  24. Amy says:

    This is anything but helpful. I was hoping for some real life advice not naive suggestions. I am a female traveler and this is silly. I have been attacked twice. Both with and without other people. The only reason why I was able to get out of those situations is because I either had a weapon or was able to fight. Please if you travel, especially as a female, be aware and have more than your smile and confidence.

  25. Rob Myran says:

    I gotta call BS on this one. Your smile, your voice, and your confident demeanor will take you far with many situations, but the examples you cite: being robbed, attacked, or assaulted by an angry mob are ones of criminal intent, provoked or unprovoked hostility with harm as the purpose and mob action which is very difficult to reason with.

    Your best defense for robbery may be giving the robber something. Your best street-wise strategy is to not have much on you or easy to find but have, for example, a wallet with a few bucks in it for immediate purchases like meals, but not carry ID or credit cards in that wallet.

    For attacks or mobs your best strategy is probably to run away. (live to ride another day). If you can’t escape you may need to fight for your life. No rules, hyper aggression, and anything you can grab as a weapon.

    As always, situational awareness, and keeping your head on a swivel, and asking people about areas to avoid as you travel is best.

  26. JimM says:

    Pepper spray can be illegal in a lot of places but a squirt gun or small spray bottle with straight ammonia is highly effective against dogs. It knocks out their vision and sense of smell plus it makes it a little tough on their breathing. Doesn’t require a direct hit. No long term harm. If asked about it at a border, it’s a disinfectant that’s sold everywhere.

  27. Sheelah A Kayser says:

    Hey there Darren, I hope you are well. WOW, this topic really struck a chord with many of us. I agree with everything you said and you taught me some new things as well. I especially like the one about asking the beggar for money! lol that is really clever. As far as protection, I would certainly bring my firearm with me if I was on a long ride but if outside of the US, that is really not an option. Can one even bring a decent knife with them on a trip overseas? If I were to travel overseas, I would certainly invest in some self-defense training. Knowing how to deflect and catch an attacker off guard would certainly be an asset. On top of that, I think the most valuable thing is to be alert to your surroundings in the first place. I personally used to be a VERY flighty sort of person, taking everything at face value and not really paying attention to those around me. After 911, that really changed for me, but only for a couple of years and then I returned to the complacent person I was before. I have had to force myself to get back to being very observant at all times. At first, I did not want to live that way……always looking over my shoulder and scrutinizing those around me. I finally found a happy medium and now almost make it into a game to see how well I can remember details around me. Once I got into this habit, it stopped feeling like I was on guard all the time and just has become something I do naturally. It no longer feels like the stressor it did initially. So, while traveling, whether alone or not, or by bike or whatever, being alert is first and foremost in my opinion. Once you see a red flag, then you need to know what to do. That is where self-defense comes in and all the other suggestions you and other have made. I have yet to go on my first long-distance bike tour, so I look forward to having this to worry about 😀 Take care

  28. Rich says:

    Where I live, many folks legally carry, and I mean openly. I mean on your hip in plain sight. I don’t, yet it doesn’t offend me. I am an older guy preparing for a ride across my home state of Arizona. I am confident that my largest risk by far is that of vehicles.
    I am undecided about taking my 9mm. My wife actually is pretty adamant that I do.
    Darren, I appreciate that you allow this conversation.
    Again, I appreciate lol that you do.

  29. kaz says:

    DARREN san,
    Thanks in advance for providing many useful tips for bicycle touring via Web site and YouTube.
    I am a Japanese cyclist, thinking about long bicycle tour abroad outside Japan.
    Viewing some comment here, I remind my lack of caution, and recognize how vulnerable am I in such environment.
    As described in the article below,

    some bicycle tourer like me had better keep in mind threat of gun still exists in some area in the world, especially USA.
    I love American culture and want to visit some scenic places, but shoud not underestimate the risk as mentioned by many people in this topic.
    If possible, I would have RISK map of USA. World’s RISK map provided by MFA of Japan shows USA is not specified as risky county, but it might not shows real life.
    I am not joking, very serious.

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