Questions You Shouldn’t Answer Honestly
Do you know how to behave with strangers and what to say to them to keep yourself safe? Here are some tips. Check if you know all of them.
You’re on vacation and traveling solo. There’s a long line of people waiting to check in at the hotel. It’s your turn, finally, and the inexperienced receptionist happily announces that your room number will be 321. I know you’re tired and can’t wait to get into the room, but for your safety, ask the receptionist to give you a new room and write the number on a piece of paper this time. No one in that line needs to know where you’ll be staying.
Before entering the hotel room, make sure there’s no one in the hallway. Lock the door the second you get inside. Before going to sleep, put some things in front of the door. If someone gets inside the room at night, they’ll fall and wake you up.
If someone in the hotel lobby asks you if you’re traveling alone, always tell them: “No, I’m with my friends.” The same rule works for planes, trains, and any other transportation. You never know if your fellow passenger is asking that out of curiosity to have a chat or if they have something mean in mind.
When someone asks if you’re staying at that hotel, don’t rush to answer “Sure!”. Instead, tell them you’re waiting for a friend or colleague.
If you ever need directions, and someone offers to walk you to the place, politely reject that offer: “I know how to get there”. All they have to do is point you in the right direction. You never know where a stranger might take you if you blindly follow them.
If a stranger asks, “Where are you staying?”, avoid the answer or give them some popular hotel name, like Hilton. Those hotels are everywhere. If you want or have to be more honest with them, narrow down the area you’re staying in but never mention the exact hotel name.
If a passerby gets too interested in you and won’t leave, act weirdly. Pretend you don’t speak their language, even if you just did like 2 minutes ago, make weird faces, or start singing. The more attention you draw to yourself — the better. No one will do anything to a person everyone is staring at.
When planning your travels, try to avoid arriving at a new place when it’s dark outside. It’s always easier to find your hotel in the light of day when there are more transfer options and people around. You’ll feel more secure and save some cash.
Speaking of cash, I guess we all know the good old trick of hiding it in your underwear, money belt, or other accessories. But always make sure to have at least some money in a dummy wallet. If the worst happens, and someone wants it, you can always throw it at them not to make them angry because you have nothing to give them.
When ordering food, you don’t have to give them your real name. If you feel uncomfortable inventing a fake name for yourself, just say it’s for someone else and use some common name.
If you ever have to give your address at a crowded pharmacy or the store, say, sign up for a loyalty program, never say it out loud. Whisper it or write it on paper, so strangers don’t hear it.
You’ve just finished some successful shopping. You return to the mostly empty and dark parking lot at the mall and get in your car. Wait, is that a jacket on your windshield? You decide to get it off. Stop right there! This is a trick bad guys use to get in and drive away in your vehicle. Let security know about it and ask them to escort you to the car and wait until you go away safely.
The same trick works with flat tires. If you notice it after a visit to your favorite store or restaurant, go back in and ask someone to help you. If you approach your car alone, someone might come up to you and offer help. And that someone will most likely be the person to blame for your flat tire.
When you exit your workplace, no matter if it’s a small store or an office, never answer the question about your working hours directly. Tell whoever is wondering they aren’t fixed, and the manager decides about them. And if someone is wondering if you’re working alone, always tell them there’s someone else in the back.
Did you enjoy making up secret languages and code words as a child? You can now use this skill for your safety! Agree about a secret phrase with your family or close friends to share if you can’t talk or text usually. “No worries. I’m going on an adventure.” could stand for: “Send help ASAP!” You can take this life-saving game to the next level and decipher the name of the highway you’re on or the mall where you got in the car with someone you no longer feel comfortable about.
Knowing some basic self-defense techniques never hurts. Even if you (hopefully) never get to use them, remember the most vulnerable spots to aim for are the eyes, the nose, the jaw, the Adam’s Apple in the front of the neck, the solar plexus just below the ribs, the knee, and the instep.
If you ever have to share an elevator ride with a stranger, stand with your back to the buttons panel. This way, they won’t be able to stop it between the floors.
Never check in on any social media when you arrive at a restaurant, hotel, or new mall. Do it after you leave. Your friends will be just as excited or jealous, whatever you’re aiming for, and you’ll protect yourself from digital stalkers. Those people can track down anyone, especially if you have a public account.
If you don’t feel comfortable living alone in your new area, make it look like you actually don’t. Drop a couple of pairs of slippers of different sizes on the outside doorstep. This way, whoever is interested will get the idea several people live inside.
Get to know your neighbors. You may or may not end up making new friends. But at least you’ll have some people who know you and will react if they notice some suspicious action around your house or apartment. Once you see you can trust them, you can also let them know when and how long you’re leaving your home.
Check the lighting in your building. Let maintenance staff know about any dark spots or missing light bulbs in the hallways. Parking lots, storage rooms, mailrooms, stairwells, and other common areas need proper lighting to avoid dangerous situations.
When you’re walking home alone, resist the urge to play some music in your headphones or call someone to feel safe while talking to them. When you’re on the phone, you’re more distracted, without peripheral vision, and with only one hand to protect yourself if you have to.
Imagine someone is following you in the street. You cross the street, and they do the same. You get off the busy road, and they do the same again. Don’t get too far from the main road. Stop and pretend you’ve forgotten something. Pat your pockets, act like you’re looking for something, say, your wallet. Don’t pretend to be looking for the phone — the stalker might believe you don’t have it and get their hopes up.
Start walking in the opposite direction. It’s unlikely they’ll want to follow you in a busy street. Plus, if your acting is good, they might lose interest in you since you don’t have money. If the stalker is still there, try walking into the first coffee shop you see. Head straight to the bathroom and wait for 5 to 10 minutes. If the stalker is still there, ask staff members for help when you walk out.
If you have to wait for public transport when it’s dark, try to stay near other people who are also waiting. If there is not one, stay inside some building in a well-lit area until your transport arrives. When the bus is finally there, look around. If someone is acting weird or seems suspicious, let the driver know. Since there probably won’t be a lot of passengers, don’t go to the farthest corner of the bus. Stay closer to the driver to ask for help if you have to.