Travelling has become one of the best ways to meet new people and connecting with them. Through flirting, we get to feel empowered and we create links that are more than mere platonic friendships but less than romantic commitments. The surge of different emotions surrounding this unique practice adds spice to our lives and the travels we take to escape reality.

However, the thrill of the chase may leave us blind to some of the risks dating strangers may bring. We get so excited that we may spontaneously decide to just go on and pursue or follow someone without certain precautions. The following items will serve as a checklist to do when we decide to go with an interesting catch:

Be wary of your surroundings

Stay in well-lit areas with a sizeable crowd and CCTV cameras. Creeps and criminals prefer places where they won’t be easily recognized by a lot of people. Bright lights and noisy crowds scare perverts because they won’t be succeeding in doing their sketchy acts if they are easily detected. Staying in places where there is a police station or outpost in sight is very important. If there are none nearby, make sure to be familiar with the local nearest police station’s hotline so you can contact them immediately if the need arises.

Lay it heavy on the “getting-to-know” stage

Conversational foreplay reveals a lot about the person you’re meeting. In such a short time, you can already gather a lot of insights about the person you’re talking to. You can ask about their job and other mundane details about their lives and you should reciprocate but only about the things you are comfortable sharing. But more than what they say, you can also get a feel of the person’s personality by how they describe themselves and their lives. Since we all have different types, only go with the person you are comfortable enough to actually talk to rather than just see.

But more importantly, make your intentions clear from the very start. Set your limits and tell them what you’re willing to do and not. This will make them know whether you guys are suited to each other in the very short span of time you can spend. Don’t immediately jump in to what they propose and think about the purpose of your trip and that is to enjoy. If you don’t think that the person you’re talking to is a good match, respectfully and subtly end your conversation and move on to the next prospect. Remember: the more time you spend with the wrong person, the less time you spend with the right person.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your friends

Your friends will probably be the most important factor in ensuring your safety while exploring Palawan. From the very start of the trip, you should already have an understanding about how you will support and take care of each other. I recommend that you go by the buddy-buddy system when going to bars and clubs in order to prevent being preyed upon by malicious opportunists. It will also help when you have that one friend who’s the “parent” so he or she can look after you and accompany you to the restroom if need be.

But aside from this, you should also introduce your new friend to your group. This might seem embarrassing especially if they are not on the same page as you but once he or she knows that your friends know his appearance and a couple of details, the carrying out of unsavory plans will immediately go nil. If you plan to leave your group to spend more intimate time with your new pal, make sure that at least one of your friends gets his or her number so that they can contact him/her whenever you’re taking too long to get back. You should also update your friends all the time as to what you are doing through texts and chats so that they can be aware with your status with your newly met friend. Tell them where you’re going, the plate number of the vehicle you’re going to ride in, when you have arrived in the destination and other pertinent information. If possible, set a curfew for yourself and update your friends from time to time whether you’re going to stick to it or decide to continue bonding with your new friend and set a new time when you’ll expect to get back.

Don’t agree to go to far places that might take you hours before you can get back to your group

If the person wants to bring you somewhere that’s quite far from where you met, this might be dangerous especially if it’s your first time visiting that place. Make sure to stand by your decision to stay near your original area as for your own safety and peace of mind. If he or she understands this, this means that the person isn’t trying to force themselves upon you and actually gives importance to your well-being rather than just their enjoyment.

Trust your gut

If anything at anytime feels wrong or out of place in spite of all the precautions you’ve made, it’s best to listen to your instincts and follow them. It is also important to know the fine line between the thrill of meeting a new friend and anxiety about being brought somewhere seemingly unsafe or doing something you’re uncomfortable about. Besides, there are a lot of other people you can meet and if you’re already worried about something that will probably take out the fun and excitement from the whole experience.

It goes without saying that safety and self-preservation should go first before enjoyment. We might be risk takers but our otherwise fun trip will be ruined if we don’t take the necessary precautions. With these tips in mind, go forth and enjoy safely!