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How to Stay Safe in a Big City

Know before you go, where not to go

Steering clear of unsafe zones when traveling

If you're a seasoned traveler, you've probably experienced at least one adventure into an area that should have come with a "Do Not Enter" sign. For some traveler's, this is part of the adventure, but for many it can leave a negative impression of a city.

travel tips to stay safetravel tips to stay safeAs a travel agent, I make knowing where the less desirable areas of cities are a priority so I can equip my clients with the info they need to stay safe - before they leave home. I've found being able to share this information prior to departure helps alleviate stress and make for a more enjoyable holiday.

Here are a couple of examples of how easy it can be to wander into undesirable areas of my favorite cities. But just because you know where not to go, doesn't mean it's okay to let your guard down - petty crimes will always be an issue for unsuspecting travelers.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco Tenderloin districtSan Francisco Tenderloin districtSan Francisco is so rich in beauty and culture that I keep going back - even after my first trip took me through the heart of the Tenderloin at dusk on my first day. Sandwiched between Union Square and Civic Center, you might end up here accidently if you have a love for theatre or high-end art galleries - one block can make a world of difference. The Tenderloin is clearly marked on most tourist maps, which should be your first indication you may not want to end up there - particularly at night. Even though the area offers amazing theatre, it can't be downplayed that the Tenderloin is known for its violence and criminal activities.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver, CanadaWith the beauty of the ocean and mountains that Vancouver has to offer, it's hard to believe the Downtown Eastside even exists. Many tourists who disembark from cruise ships wander through historic Gastown and end up taking a wrong turn or going just a little too far. Suddenly they're in the middle of skidrow and in possible danger. If they had just taken a right turn or gone straight from the cruise terminal they would have entered the heart of Vancouver and enjoyed the best of what everyone raves about.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, WashingtonSeattle, WashingtonOne of my favourite areas of Seattle is Pioneer Square, with an abundance of quaint gift shops, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and in the evening it comes alive with dancing and live music. The area is also host of one of my favorite city tours - the Underground Tour. If you're in town to see baseball or football you'll likely wander through Pioneer Square as it borders the stadiums. With all this neighborhood has to offer, it's also dubbed as Seattle's skidrow, while not as threatening as Vancouver's, be advised to use caution and stay aware of your surroundings. If you're traveling through the area after dark, stay on the 1st Avenue corridor where the bars are located and only visit the shops on 2nd and 3rd avenue during the day.  

what to do safety tipswhat to do safety tipsEven if you do accidently end up in a neighborhood you should have avoided, keep calm and backtrack the way you came. Avoid looking like a target and continue to move with confidence and as if you know where you're going. If you're truly lost, find a store or gas station and ask them to call you a taxi or send you in the right direction. And don't let your one wrong turn disrupt your enjoyment of the destination. Every city has rough neighborhoods.

If you're working with a travel agent, tap into their knowledge and expertise to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable vacation. They want you to have the best experience possible and will be happy to go out of their way to ensure satisfaction.

And read blogs (like GoGirlfriend) on the city you'll be visiting. Likeminded travelers love to share their experiences.  

How do you learn about and avoid the danger zones when you're traveling? Do you work with a travel agent to get insider tips before you travel? Tell us in the comments! Find us on Twitter or Facebook and let's start talking!


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