There’s a general perception that the U.S. is a less safe travel destination compared to European countries and Canada, among others. According to Statistics Canada, the rate of homicides per 100,000 people is 1.8 in Canada and 5.5. in the U.S. This data tells us that in the U.S., there is more deadly violence but doesn’t tell us whether travelers are at a significantly higher risk of becoming victims of crime.
That being said, here are a few tips on how to stay safe while visiting the country.
Things to know about safety in the USA
Crime rates in the country have declined in the last decades, and this phenomenon is part of a global trend. That being said, the U.S. still has higher crime rates compared to Canada and several other parts of the world. Potential explanations for the relatively high crime level include the existence of a gun culture and the presence of inequalities that give rise to crime-ridden ghettos.
Crime rates vary significantly by location, with large metropolitan areas generally having more crime compared to rural places. However, none of the U.S. largest cities are among the country’s most dangerous ones. According to a report described by Forbes, St. Louis (Missouri) is the most dangerous city in the country, followed by several other smaller cities. Honolulu, on the other hand, was recently named the safest large city in the country, with New York City being ranked fifth in the same category.
Like everywhere, there is a correlation between a district’s income and crime levels, with poorer neighborhoods being generally less safe than wealthier ones. Not surprisingly, violent crimes are more likely to occur in specific locations and affect specific demographic groups. In other words, travelers who stay away from neighborhoods known to be affected by gang crime and other types of violence will reduce their risk of becoming victims themselves.
It may also be worth knowing that criminal incidents associated with drug trafficking occur more frequently near the border with Mexico, in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. As such, you should pay attention to any red flags concerning criminal activity if you are going to cross the U.S.–Mexico border by car.
Finally, highly popular destinations such as New York City or Los Angeles also experience crimes that target tourists in particular. When in such locations, it’s best to pay extra attention to signs indicating you might be on the verge of becoming the victim of ploys targeting visitors.
One example of this type of crime is targeting travelers leaving airports or other tourist destinations on the highway. In this ploy, tourists are being signaled to stop due to an issue related to their vehicle, and once they do, con artists grab exposed valuables. Sometimes, items are thrown at the windshield, obscuring the view of the road and forcing drivers to pull over.
Other examples include pickpocketing and purse snatching, which occur relatively often in tourist locations and crowded urban centers. To avoid the worst outcomes of such crimes, it’s always best not to carry all of your money and credit cards on you when traveling, meaning you should leave some of them in a safe place at your accommodation.
Additional tips on how to stay safe while visiting the U.S.
It may be clear by now that the safety concerns in most places in the U.S. are not that different from the ones in Canada or Europe. Here are some additional tips that should further lower your risks of becoming a crime target:
1. Research the property you want to rent
If you are going to stay in a large metropolis, it’s probably best not to book accommodation before ensuring that it is located in a safe neighborhood, especially if you plan to go out at night. The best way to do so is by checking what other travelers have to say about the accommodation, including its location. Another way is to reverse search the address on Nuwber, especially if you’re renting an Airbnb or sharing a place with the host.
2. Be extremely careful around strangers
If you are going to meet someone you’ve previously talked to online or, again, are considering staying at an Airbnb-style accommodation, you need to be extra vigilant. While it is never possible to be completely sure a stranger can be trusted, there are a few precautions you can take. For instance, whenever possible, try to find additional information about the people in question by looking at who their contacts are, what activities they do, and how others review them.
Besides looking at people’s social media accounts and other online activities, you can also use people search websites to find information that is not readily available. On people search websites, including the above-mentioned Nuwber, you can find phone numbers, criminal records, social media profiles, and other useful details. One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes people use fake names or don’t really have any negative track record; always be careful and pay attention to red flags.
3. Stay informed about current events
Even if a location is generally safe, temporary disruptions can make a big difference. Before researching a destination, you may want to check the latest news related to it and also use government travel advisories. Potential problems that you need to be aware of include travel restrictions or security alerts.
Bottom line: The U.S. is generally a safe destination
There is no controversy in saying that the U.S. is not among the safest countries in the world or that it is one of the least safe developed ones. That being said, much of the crime that takes place in the U.S. affects specific locations and communities. As long as you stay away from unfortunate neighborhoods, you will most likely not experience any violence while visiting the country.
Regardless of the place you visit, always do your research and follow the most basic safety tips. Be careful about where you go, when you go, and who you meet. As long as you do, you should have a blast.
Also Read More: Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life