How to Run Safely in a Foreign Country

Entering the Singapore Botanic Gardens at DawnWhen I am on vacation or traveling for work, I like to keep up my running and I prefer not to have to stay indoors and use the hotel treadmill.  It’s relatively easy to find running routes in the U.S., but it can be a little more challenging running overseas.

Here are some things to think about when you are running in a foreign country:

Carry ID - I always wear a RoadID on my running shoes.  It’s also a good idea to carry a business card with the location of your hotel on it.

Run Safely - Run where there are other people around.  Run with a partner.  Tell someone where you are going, what route you are taking and how long you will be gone. 

Recently, I ran in both Singapore and Bali, two very different locations.  In Singapore, I like to get away from the busy streets and run in the Botanic Gardens.  Even at 6:00 AM, there are dozens of runners, walkers, and people practicing yoga and tai chi in the Botanic Gardens. In Bali, I stuck to the paved walkway along the beach, where there were other runners and walkers.

I also ran with my wife and two boys (see photo above) on some of the mornings, making the runs safer and more enjoyable for all of us.

Map Your Route - Even though I used to live in Singapore and ran in the Botanic Gardens regularly, I checked out Google Maps to make sure that I knew how to get there and back from my hotel.  I had to remember to look the other way for oncoming traffic, since Singaporeans drive on the “wrong” side of the road. 

Running Path in Nusa Dua, Bali, IndonesiaI had looked at Google Maps for Bali, but when I got there I found the roads that I thought might be good for running were narrow and clogged with motorbikes and minivans. 

The beachside walkway was a safer bet and it had a nice view of the ocean and Mt. Agung, a 10,000 ft (3000 m) high active volcano (see photo above).

Use a GPS Watch - Most GPS watches have a “Return to Start” feature that can help you navigate back to your hotel if you get lost. A GPS watch can also measure how far you have gone and can help you decide when it’s a good time to turn around.

Have a Back-Up Plan - It’s a good idea to carry a cell phone that works overseas and/or enough cash (or a credit card) to get a cab, if you get lost or injured.

Find a Running Group - If you check ahead of time, you can often find a local group run that you can join.  Check with local running gear shops or running clubs.

Be Seen - If you are running at at dusk or dawn (or at night - not recommended), carry a strobe light, flash light, and/or wear reflective clothing or a reflective vest.

Know the Language - Be able to say “Stop”, “Help”, and “Police” in the local language. 

Know to Find Help -  On Bali, most hotels have security personnel and there are also Tourist Police posted at the beach.

What do you do to run safely in a foreign country?  Tell me in the comments.

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