For a practical traveler like me, there are loads of emergency worst-case scenarios to anxiously envision before traveling abroad. From injury to kidnapping to theft, a lot of disorienting things can happen in a foreign country. And the farther from home you are, the more confusing and scary that can be!
That kind of anxiety can make you so nervous that traveling sounds more like a nightmare than a dream come true. And letting your anxiety keep you from traveling would be a real shame.
But there’s also a nice middle ground between “don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine” and worrying so much you never leave the house, and that middle ground is where you take reasonable precautions and prepare yourself to face any of those scary circumstances that can pop up on a trip.

Step one, I think, is to take a deep breath and acknowledge that something bad might happen – and that it’s all part of the adventure. And most things either aren’t as bad as your imagination makes them out to be, or aren’t as likely as the news – and your overly concerned parents – would have you believe.
For example, although everyone’s heard horror stories of being mugged and left stranded while traveling abroad, in my personal experience, most theft while traveling abroad is an opportunity crime: make one rookie mistake and you become an easy target.
And it’s not just traveling abroad, either. I was robbed no less than 3 times when I moved from the safe, friendly Midwest, to the big city of San Francisco. In my first 3 months, I had my phone and ID stolen twice, and my purse was stolen out of a locked locker at a gym (stupid cheap lock). I even had a man attempt to mug me in broad daylight on a crowded street at 5 pm in front of my office!
Am I just like,  a walking bad omen? (Yes). But other than attracting catastrophe like a magnet, I can point to a few things I could have done better in each instance:The first time I had my phone and ID stolen, they were sitting in my purse in plain sight on the floor of a restaurant, with easy access to the door. Nowadays at a restaurant, I keep my purse underneath me or the table where they can’t be accessed easily.
  • The second time I had my phone and ID stolen, they were in my jacket pocket … but I took my jacket off at a dance club, stuck it in the corner, and hit the dance floor. I wasn’t watching them, so I never saw them get taken. I don’t do that anymore.
  • The locked locker was kind of a fluke – although I no longer use cheap locks – and I’ve learned to keep things in the trunk of my car instead. 
  • My attempted mugging? My mistake was that I was staring at my phone while walking down the street instead of paying attention to my surroundings. (My second mistake was that I fought off the guy who tried to mug me – that’s a really dumb move. Don’t do that. Phones are replaceable.)
Now that I’ve I wised up and built my city-slicker street smarts up, I have not been robbed a single time since at home or abroad. 
But that’s not all: combined with the other precautions I take, I know that even if I am robbed, I have a way to access money, insurance to replace my belongings or cover me in case of injury, a network of people who know where I am at all times, and copies of the necessary legal documents to return home. That brings me incredible peace of mind so that I can actually enjoy my trip!

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