Whether you are traveling to a packed tourist destination, sporting event or concert, you will likely encounter large crowds at some point during your travels. For those who battle claustrophobia, or the extreme and irrational fear of confined spaces, large crowds can become even more daunting. Fortunately, with a bit of advanced planning and preparation, you can put your fears at ease.

Our team at DriveTheNation.com has compiled a list of important reminders to consider when dealing with large crowds.

Define an Emergency Plan

An emergency plan is a wise consideration, regardless of crowd size or your own familiarity of the location. Your emergency plan should include the name and location of a mutually agreed upon meeting spot, in case one or more members of your group gets lost. If your event is to be held inside, familiarize yourself with all emergency exits as well as the shortest route of escape. Last but not least, be aware of the police, fire and first aid stations closest to your whereabouts, as this team of medical professionals will likely be among the first responders in the event of an emergency.

Prepare Ahead

There is a fine line between preparation and paranoia, and there is certainly nothing wrong with a bit of advanced planning. If you know you will be away from your “home base” for extended periods of time, prepare accordingly. We suggest packing snacks, required medications and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Charge your phone the night before so that your battery life is extended for optimal use and get plenty of rest to minimize your chances of encountering heat stroke or other debilitating ailments.

Utilize the Buddy System

It’s an old trick that could save your life in the event of an emergency. By utilizing the buddy system, you are relying upon a partner for accountability and safety. Before any crowded event or excursion, choose an individual to be your buddy. Be sure you and your buddy have mutually agreed upon an emergency plan and meeting spot. Also pinky promise each other that you won’t leave one another’s side, even when visiting the restroom. By doing so, both you and your buddy are taking added precautions to minimize risk.

Drink Plenty of Water

The importance of hydration is often overlooked, especially during large events and other crowded gatherings. When water bottles are being sold at $5 a piece, for example, it might be tempting to forgo the expensive price tag all together. By doing so, however, you are placing yourself at further risk for dehydration. To avoid this, drink plenty of water before your trip and set aside spending money for the purposes of hydration. Use the restroom before your event to avoid long lines at crowded bathrooms and check-in with your buddy every so often to confirm that he/she too is taking steps to remain hydrated.

Utilize a Fanny Pack

Unfortunately, large crowds provide an easy target for pickpocketers, individuals who pry on the misfortune of unsuspecting tourists by stealing their wallets out of their pockets or purse. When traveling with cash or other important items, a fanny pack is a wise consideration. Fanny packs, warn securely around your waist, are often difficult to reach for pickpocketers. Fanny packs allow you to keep your belongings close for increased security, while still providing easy access when you need it.

Stay Calm

Large crowds can become overwhelming, especially for those who battle claustrophobia. In any crowded situation, it’s important to stay calm and composed. By maintaining your wits about you in the event of an emergency, you will be better equipped to make the safest and most strategic decision for your own safety. Alert your buddy if you begin to feel anxious and engage in deep breathing exercises if you begin to experience symptoms of a panic attack. If possible, remove yourself from the crowd before it becomes too large to handle.

Large crowds don’t have to be terrifying. We hope you found these pointers useful when evaluating how to deal with large crowds. What tip would you add to this list? We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comment section below, please.