When moving to a new or big city, staying safe can be a big concern. I moved to London for university and I know that one of my major worries was crime in the capital, especially since there's so much on the news about it. It can even be enough to put you off, but there are plenty of things you can do in order to stay safe.
First of all, it's important to know your routes. Before I moved, I found a few different ways from my flat to the tube station; one is quicker than the other but the longer one is more public and well lit. So, when it's dark out, I take the safer one even if it takes a bit longer because it's a small price to pay for feeling safer. It's also worth having a few alternative ones for your everyday journeys - for example to college, university or work - in case a road is closed or public transport is down.
Secondly, it's good to get to know the public transport links in your local area. I learnt my tube route to university as well as a bus route, because if one is not available it ensures I can still get there. It may take a while for it to become familiar but once you've fully learnt them and got used to them, it will be like second nature. It may also be worth getting an idea of wider city transport in case you are visiting a friend or somewhere a bit further from your local area.
Routing apps are also very helpful. It ensures that you will definitely get to where you need to be without worrying and they usually have live updates as well. One really useful one is the Official TfL app, which has live updates on tube statuses, as well as any planned closures and works. Another really good one is CityMapper, as it applies to other major cities outside of London and includes more methods of getting to where you need to be, such as cycling and walking.
I’ve also found that Uber is amazing when the night tube isn’t on. It costs quite a lot more than public transport, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more then it is totally worth it. Always make sure your driver has a proper picture, good ratings and check the type of car and number plate before you get in. You can also connect your app up to your friends’ phone so they can get live updates as well.
That brings me onto the following point, which is keeping your friends informed. I usually get mine to message me once they're home, and vice versa. You could also use things like Find My Friends or Snapmaps; these have been super useful for me on nights out when people have left before others and not been able to tell everyone. I don't keep mine turned on all the time, usually only when it's agreed with my friends so we can make sure everyone is in the right place.
Personal safety is also a major thing. For example, keeping a bag that is not easily accessible on public transport or in busy areas. Pick-pocketing and theft are huge issues in busy cities and people who do it are more subtle than you might think. Keeping things like your phone, laptop and wallet in a properly shut backpack or zipped up bag will usually help deter things happening.
I also carry portable chargers and emergency cash in case I need it. For example, if my phone dies and it means I cannot access Apple Pay to cover a tube or bus fare, having the emergency money is super useful. I've also been using my phone for a lot more since I moved, so the portable battery is usually an everyday item that I carry. You can get very light and small ones in Primark and on Amazon, and I just charge it every night before I sleep and take it with my phone the next day.
Big and busy cities can be intimidating, but don't let it put you off. The amazing experiences that it can offer massively outweigh the negatives and I’m so glad I did it.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.