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How to Stay Safe in a Big City

Don't let your fears or your naivete stop you from having fun in the city. Find out what others have learned to become street savvy.


  • Step 1: Map out the day Map out the day, literally. If you're headed for parts unknown, consult your map and write down directions. Take the map with you in case you need it again.
  • Step 2: Dress for your adventure Dress simply and wear comfortable walking shoes. Leave the jewelry at home. Pack a fully charged cell phone and slip extra money into a front pocket. Never put valuables in your back pocket.
  • TIP: Women should hold their purses close to their bodies or use cross-shoulder bags instead. It's convenient and a great organizer; and also easy to slip off quickly in a tight situation.
  • Step 3: Get an attitude Prepare yourself mentally before you open your door to leave. Adopt an attitude that projects confidence.
  • Step 4: Act the attitude Act the attitude. Let the attitude show in how carry yourself. Walk briskly and with purpose. Put a little swagger into your step. And, for heaven's sake, don't pull out your map until you're in a store recess, out of view.
  • TIP: Experts recommend never making eye contact with strangers in a big city.
  • Step 5: Always be aware of your surroundings Stay on well-lit streets. Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If your instincts give you a nudge, pay attention and move away.
  • : Watch out for sudden activity or commotion by one or more persons – it may be the start of a con to distract you so someone can pick your pocket or snatch your purse.
  • Step 6: Exercise caution on public transportation Exercise caution when using public transportation. Sit near the driver on a bus and in the conductor's car on a train or subway, especially during off-peak hours.
  • TIP: Sit in the center of the car – seats near the doors are vulnerable to a purse snatch when the doors open.
  • Step 7: Cross the street if someone's following you Cross the street or change direction if you think someone is following you. If they continue to follow you, head for the nearest open store or restaurant, and don't be afraid to yell for help.
  • Step 8: Enjoy yourself Don't forget to enjoy yourself. Now that you're armed with street smarts, you can take on the city.
  • FACT: Crimes are typical in Hogan's Alley, a tiny "mock" city in Virginia built by the FBI in 1987, to train new recruits and local, state, and Federal law enforcement in investigative techniques, firearms, and defensive tactics.

You Will Need

  • A map
  • Walking shoes
  • A cell phone
  • The right attitude
  • A confident walk
  • Awareness
  • Trust in your instincts
  • Caution
  • A cross-shoulder bag (optional)

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