General Questions about staying safe on the road from other people (1 Viewer)

somber

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So, this is my first post on this site, cool.
Anyways, I've been interested in train hopping and backpacking through the US for almost a year now, and since it's starting to get warm out again I think its about time to catch out for the first time. I have some questions though, since im a little worried about the danger of it (I know that this is obviously somewhat dangerous.)
So out of your experiences, how often is it that you have to interact with undesirable people, or people that try to rob you or fuck with you etc. while youre hitchhiking or trying to sleep and stuff.
I'm an 18 year old male, and im 6'0 but im also pretty scrawny and ive never been in a fight in my life so I don't think id fare well if I had to fight someone or defend myself. Is it pretty easy to stay out of trouble and avoid the nasty people on the road?
 
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croc

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Common sense will keep u out of any avoidable bullshit.
Confidence (whether feigned or genuine) will HELP keep u safe in unavoidable bullshit.

I was worried about this too but these two things go a looonnngggg way. If u have common sense, u know who to hang with and who not to. It's just a matter of listening to your own instincts.

Carry a weapon or two. Learn basic self defense (where and how to hit someone to where u can flee). Stay away from drugs and heavy drinking. Not that those people are necessarily bad or dangerous but that shit attracts bullshit and violence and sketchy situations. Find smart sleep spots that are less vulnerable.

And for trains... Research train safety. If u can, read Duffy Littlejohn's book about freight hopping. The first time I was scoping trains to get on with @Koala i went between the cars. Stuuuuupid mistake just bc I didn't know better. Slack action could've pulled that train straight into me and I could've lost a limb trying to get out from under it. (thanks, koala for telling my dumb ss what's up)
I think trains are actually a pretty safe mode of transit if u know and utilize safety info.

Go for it, stay aware, trust very few people u meet on the streets/road.
 

AAAutin

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There are a lot of variables involved. Personally, I am in the privileged position of being a burly white cis dude. In my three years of doing this, I have never felt threatened by another person. (In fact, motherfuckers tend to cross the street when they see me.) I am much more concerned with wildlife—especially members of the porcine persuasion—but I tend to keep to myself and away from people in general.

(Cut to: my mugged/murdered corpse an hour from now.)
 

BardoBard

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Stay sober enough to maintain situational awareness and physical readiness, dont trust people too much.

Also highly recommend not staying in cities, personally I always camp out in the woods / desert.

If we pass eachother on the road, I'd be down to work on some boxing fundamentals
 
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I never had a problem traveling military or civilian the past decades all over the world.
Three years ago I ran into a guy at a hobo camp here in Wisconsin and he was drinking out of a Jim Bean bottle. He asked me if I wanted to hang and party with him until a train came by. I refused and lied to him I have other people coming in a minute I need to meet and I just disappeared in the bush. I don't know if this guy is an escaped fugitive or he just committed a felony crime but whatever, I avoided him.
Always look ahead and watch your surroundings. If you see a group of people hanging out underneath a bridge, take another route. Someone is bothering you, just tell them I got some people meeting me in a minute and they are on their way.
Always carry a fake decoy wallet and an expired cell phone in case you are robbed. The robber is going to take your decoy stuff and run. You on the other hand just take off and leave the area.
Be alert like the others on here said, avoid alcohol and drugs with strangers you don't know.
I like to quaff a few cold beers by my self alone hidden in the woods!
Be alert and safe!
 

Coywolf

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Ive had VERY little experience with danger from others, minus in big cities and gang violence. If you see a group of people mobbin', avoid them at all costs, IMO. I agree with not staying in cities, get out into the forest/desert/marsh/whatever.

Definitely carry at least a knife, always. I usually carry a lethal and non lethal form of protection, knife and bear spray, and Ill pick up a big stick, like I just had to do in Sacramento, if I feel really threatened.

Ya know what IS dangerous, though? Dogs. Fucking dogs. Every fucking god damned day. If I have one piece of advice to give you, its AVOID walking through neighborhoods, period, unless its some yuppy suburb or something. Ive been attacked multiple times, Ive had to kill one dog, mace another, and kick multiple. So, theres that. Dogs hate large packs. Every time it was either a Pit or a Rottweiler.

Everyone else on here has good advice, especially watch who you hang out with. Also, Bridges. Dont SLEEP under bridges unless you absolutely have to, or have vetted the area by saying there a while, if it looks like homebums are around all the time, I would avoid it.

When it comes to trains, thats a whole other story and there are multiple threads on train safety like:

StP's Guide to Train Hopping

Read all of that. And also read alot of the safety related threads in the train hopping section.

Good luck, welcome to the site and hopefully the world of travelling. Safe Travels!
 

roughdraft

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look angry, like you're angry enough to kill

appearing vulnerable and unalert or any type of whimsical seems to attract predatory types of any variety

i consider myself soft in attitude apart from being 5'7" and not exactly the best form. I have never been involved in an actual violent situation apart from once drunk putting someone in a headlock and putting them on the ground (blackout wasted and 16 years old) and the person and i settled it peacefully not even 12 hours later. i just dont fuk with it. i have never gotten mugged or attacked regardless of spendin time in certain places

but walking around bad company safely en route to good company has so far boiled down to presenting myself in a manner that at least in my head makes me seem like a bigger or comparable threat. For me just look like you're pissed off and got nothin to lose
 
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BardoBard

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Ive had VERY little experience with danger from others, minus in big cities and gang violence. If you see a group of people mobbin', avoid them at all costs, IMO. I agree with not staying in cities, get out into the forest/desert/marsh/whatever.

Definitely carry at least a knife, always. I usually carry a lethal and non lethal form of protection, knife and bear spray, and Ill pick up a big stick, like I just had to do in Sacramento, if I feel really threatened.

Ya know what IS dangerous, though? Dogs. Fucking dogs. Every fucking god damned day. If I have one piece of advice to give you, its AVOID walking through neighborhoods, period, unless its some yuppy suburb or something. Ive been attacked multiple times, Ive had to kill one dog, mace another, and kick multiple. So, theres that. Dogs hate large packs. Every time it was either a Pit or a Rottweiler.

Everyone else on here has good advice, especially watch who you hang out with. Also, Bridges. Dont SLEEP under bridges unless you absolutely have to, or have vetted the area by saying there a while, if it looks like homebums are around all the time, I would avoid it.

When it comes to trains, thats a whole other story and there are multiple threads on train safety like:

StP's Guide to Train Hopping

Read all of that. And also read alot of the safety related threads in the train hopping section.

Good luck, welcome to the site and hopefully the world of travelling. Safe Travels!
Damn man, used to get attacked by dogs a lot on Miami, but never had to kill one. Did bear mace a stray dog out in the country near Yakima

Thinking about getting a tazer in place of the bear mace
 

Matt Derrick

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i think sleeping under bridges is fine if it's clear nobody's been there for a while. also, find wooded areas, especially near highways and railroad tracks (check google maps if you don't know where any are).
 
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somber

somber

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Damn man, used to get attacked by dogs a lot on Miami, but never had to kill one. Did bear mace a stray dog out in the country near Yakima

Thinking about getting a tazer in place of the bear mace
I’ve considered carrying around pepper spray with me but ive read around the internet that in some states its illegal or something? Do you know if thats false? Same with carrying around a knife or anything that the cops could consider a weapon.
 

Matt Derrick

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I’ve considered carrying around pepper spray with me but ive read around the internet that in some states its illegal or something? Do you know if thats false? Same with carrying around a knife or anything that the cops could consider a weapon.
nah, i've never been given shit by police for having pepper spray. i'd say you're fine to carry that in almost every state (except on airplanes).

knives, as long as it isn't a switchblade/butterfly knife (folding/open assist is okay) and is under 3 inches you should be fine for anything other than getting on airplanes.

greyhound buses won't let you have pepperspraay or knives, but they do such a piss poor job of checking your bags (when they even have security) that they have never found mine cause i just put it at the bottom of my pack or in my sleeping bag.
 

BardoBard

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Cops never hassle me over the spray, but I think its new england where they have restrictions, and Ive never spent much time up there.

Actually ordered a tazer, have bear spray for large animals, and my metal cane. Really doubt I'll ever have to use any of it, probably going to ditch the bear spray
 

Robie

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My belief has been, the best way to avoid a fight is not be there when it starts. Weapons can be useful if you know how and are willing to use them but they can be deadlier if taken from you. Defensive weapons such as bear spray and tasers can certainly be useful.
But your best weapon is the one on your shoulders. Hone your instincts! Stay sober, im not saying dont drink, just dont get drunk. At first you will likely be scared of everything and rightfully so. Book knowledge will help but experience will bring it all together. Finding a stable and experienced road dog can go a long way. But in the end it is all on you. Best of luck, hope to see you on the road someday.
 
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I've been in a couple of rough spots but it mostly boils down to knowing when to bounce. The phrase I like to use is knowing when the party is over, leave an hour early. Now, not everything can be avoided, so a few tips. For everyone who doesn't have much experience in defense, mace or wasp spray (really, wasp spray will fuck someone up) can be your best friend. Attack joints. There's no such thing as a fair fight so if your pinned down, there's no shame in grabbing a finger and snapping it. Also, if your outmatched, there's no shame in running your ass away. I'm lucky cause I'm a stocky dude who wrestled in high school and had a couple years of MMA training afterwards. But for real, wasp spray, it can save your life.
 

Thx

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I usually carry both pepper spray and I often have a rock in my coat pocket...

(The rock is for bad people, but more so for cars that try and mow me down when I am in the crosswalk with the right of way... they look right at me and keep on coming and just push me out of the way... Next one's getting some scratches or a broken window for their trouble.)

Now, I imagine one might get in trouble with the rock, but I have been stopped with it and while it raises questions, I tell them it's for squeezing when my diabetes acts up...

Then the 22 y/o cop lends me their expert advice on diabetes...

The worst situation I ever found myself in was around 2001 in an old abandoned house.

(I had been homeless on and off since 1991...)

I was squatting in the garage, and ten teenagers with baseball bats came along at 2 am and rushed the house.

Fortunately, the house had a basement and they rushed down there and never bothered to check the garage. I managed to scurry away undetected.

SO, avoid obvious places like under bridges and abandoned houses. (and of course, doorways downtown etc, camp at the outskirts of a town, and ideally you want to be in a small to medium-sized town, one that might have a few services like a hot meal or food bank, but not so big they have full-blown missions.

Something else I learned... during a 2003 trip to Nashville, I started looking in the real estate classified ads to find out where the good side of town is... rich people have bushes too, so I camped in Belle Meade Tenn, one of the richest suburbs in America... "Old money" wealth.

Stayed near one of the biggest mansions, more or less across the street from the cop shop, stayed there 6 weeks and never saw a soul.

So people make the mistake of assuming they need to be where all the other tramps are too, avoid those places!

Keeping yourself reasonably clean is not that difficult, and when I hit a new town, I ditch that overstuffed backpack in the berry bushes as soon as possible.

I'm going to "utilize" this town, and I'm going to practice "LNT," "Leave No Trace" wherever possible.

I will break my camp every morning and never leaved it pitched... because you don't know who might come along during the day when you are not there and come back later that night with friends.

When you wash up in a gas station, take some TP or paper towels and wipe that sink and floor even down, leave it better than it was, if no one knows you used something, then it's not a "problem," is it? (Think about the next camper guys, let's stop pissing in our own well water, (so to speak) :D)

And NEVER leave a trashed camp, the two things that will get you busted more than anything are having a fire and having a trashed camp, c'mon guys, the world is our living room, let's not trash it out and have more bad feelings toward the homeless.

If I think of a few more I'll come back to the thread, safety first folks, right? :)

OH! And don't forget Google Earth, use the "street cam" function and pre-scout a town and get a look at it! ;)

Thx :)
 
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Matt Derrick

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SO, avoid obvious places like under bridges and abandoned houses. (and of course, doorways downtown etc, camp at the outskirts of a town, and ideally you want to be in a small to medium-sized town, one that might have a few services like a hot meal or food bank, but not so big they have full-blown missions.
I think this part is a little overly paranoid, but otherwise, good advice.
 

Thx

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You wouldn't if you had encountered the ten that night.

Now, if there is no other way and the place doesn't look too frequented, then maybe just this once, say because it is raining and maybe you don't have a tent... (better than getting pneumonia, yes.) predators are lazy and don't want to suffer the inconvenience of going out into the rain... cops are the same way.

So in that particular circumstance, I guess it would be okay. And I've stayed under many bridges, but after the abandoned house incident I realized how risky obvious places are.

No sir, I cannot recommend staying in obvious places like that, one has to make it difficult for the predator wherever possible, not easier.

It's "all good" until it isn't.

Thx :)
 
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Matt Derrick

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I'm sorry you obviously had some bad experiences, but as someone that has squatted all around the USA for nearly 20 years, abandoned houses are some of the safest places you can stay. Under bridges aren't terrible either.

Your personal experience doesn't always equal the same truth for everyone else.
 

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