So there I was, wrestling a guy in the corridor outside my hotel room … completely naked. Funny thing is I don’t often sleep naked, but on this occasion I just couldn’t have been bothered to dig my jammies out of my suitcase. Neither do I make a habit of leaving my hotel room door unlocked, but on this occasion I was naked and didn’t feel like getting out of bed to lock the door.
At around 02h30, I sensed a bad guy in my room and woke. Spooked, he grabbed my bag and ran off down the corridor with me in pursuit. I had visions of schoolboy rugby games and, being relatively fast, I made a classic, aggressive, winger’s tackle from behind. As a rule I don’t like tackling strangers from behind at any time of the day, especially when I’m in my birthday suit, and I was relieved when the would-be criminal jumped up and fled in terror through a fire escape, leaving my bag on the floor.
This encounter had a good ending, but upon recounting this story, I was shocked to hear how many people claimed that they never lock their hotel rooms. Folks, are you crazy? Security when you’re travelling is your responsibility and before you go on a bash-South Africa tirade, that’s true around the world. I’ve survived being held up in Nairobi, an attempted robbery in Madrid and during a year in South America I foiled three attempts to relieve me of my daypack while waiting in bus stations.
Travellers make natural targets no matter whether they’re in a hotel, a campsite or waiting for a bus or train. So be aware of your surroundings and take basic precautions, such as locking your hotel room door. Whatever you do though, don’t become overly paranoid. Embrace your travels, trust your instincts when you meet strangers and engage with locals – your journeys will be richer for it.
Read the full ed’s letter from the November issue of Getaway (on shelves now) and check out what’s inside here – www.magazine.getaway.co.za