14 tips to stay safe in a private tour
In one of our trips, we encountered a dangerous situation. This was one of the scariest moments of my life! While dangerous situations can be encountered everywhere, your hometown, even in the safest places on earth, certain signs and tips can make your stay safe.
Through this article, I will share a personal story and I will share tips and lessons on how we got out of these set of circumstances.
Our personal story
We were travelling from a hotel located in a very remote area to a city with all the travel arrangements made by our tour company. The company had previously brought us to the hotel and made us fell comfortable in all the other day trips we undertook during our vacation. The trip has been a wonderful one up until the following point.
The day of our check-out, the driver, who was not a direct employee of the company - he was a subcontractor - showed up 2 hours late. Upon his arrival, the driver had a “colleague” saying that the road from the hotel to the place we were heading to was very long that they will have to switch drivers mid road. While having a second driver in the car seemed odd, this explanation made sense at the time, and we decided to start our trip. While on the road, the driver was driving extremely fast, above the speed limit and even got a speeding ticket by the police. At this point, we were starting to get anxious by the bad driving and to top it all, the driver told us that they will be picking another one of his colleagues while we were supposed to be in a private tour. This, for us, was the sign that we might be in danger. Luckily, we had the number of the company and called the person who had arranged the whole trip to ask if it was normal that we had a second driver and that we were supposed to pick up a third person. The company calls the driver immediately to understand the situation and tells him to drop off the second driver on the road and that we should continue with our itinerary as planned, without picking up the third person. Problem solved, or so we thought.
While we continued driving, we activated our data and we saw that we were taking another route than the planned one. This, for us, was our third red flag and we decided that we needed to go with a different chauffeur. We requested the driver to stop at the next gas station and we decided not to go back in the car. While at the gas station, we called the company and asked to send a new driver. Luckily, the tour company was really helpful and sent over a new driver immediately. The new driver was excellent and the end of the route went down smoothly, as it should have been all along.
Looking back, there were red flags all along that we did not see. While nothing bad happened to us, this saga really scared us! Out of this experience, we took notes of these red flags and compiled them into the list below.
14 tips to stay safe in a private tour
Always have the number of the tour company with you! If you feel unsafe at any moment, contact the company directly. You might have to activate your data/ roaming, but spending a few extra dollars on your safety has no price.
Check if the driver has papers or credentials from the company and ask for the name of the driver to the company beforehand to see if they match. This way you know that you are taking the good driver.
Check the state of the car, if the car is in a bad shape, you might have to request for a new car, especially if you are doing a long trip.
Does the driver have a “colleague” on your ride? If this was not part of the arrangements, call the company immediately! You never know who this second person could be.
Midway the trip, the driver tells that he is picking someone else? If you were not supposed to pick up other passengers, call the company immediately!
Check the road that the driver is taking and confirm with your mobile maps application if it is the good route. If it is the wrong route, ask why you are taking a different route and request to stick to the original route. If it is a completely different route, call the tour company.
The driver is driving dangerously, like speeding or texting, ask politely to drive safe and call the company.
If the driver is adding unexpected stops that are off-road, be vigilant when coming down and see if you can change drivers as soon as you can.
If the driver is being aggressive in any way, do get out of the car as soon as you can.
If the driver is giving you sexual insinuations, do get out of the car as soon as you can.
If the tour company is not being helpful or not responding, ask the driver to leave you the nearest city. There, you can take a bus, a train or another taxi to drive you to your planned destination.
In certain countries, it is advisable not to take a taxi or a driver on the street. It is always preferable to ask for a driver at your hotel.
If at any moment, you feel unsafe because of your driver, ask to stop at a store, gas station, or somewhere where you can stay for a while by the time you contact your tour company and wait for a new driver.
The most helpful tips of all, stay calm and think of a way out of this situation.
Hopefully, these tips will help you stay safe while travelling or even when you ask for a taxi in your hometown.
Don’t let moments like these scare you off travelling because of safety concerns . As I said, this can happen to anyone and anywhere.
Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments below, I will be happy to complete this list with other tips!
Photo credits by Unsplash
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