When looking at pre-travel planning, it is best to initially conduct research in advance and familiarize yourself with a map of the city. Research can be conducted a number of ways using sites like the US State Department Travel
and UK Foreign Office websites (if you are doing this for international cities) and then drill down using media searches, forums, etc. to determine what locations are higher crime/higher threat. The more granular the information the better. If possible learn what tactics local criminals use, etc.
Using this information, conduct a map reconnaissance to familiarize yourself with the city, your location (hotel, apartment, house, etc,), places you will frequent (office, worksite, tourist locations, etc.) and determine your proximity to areas of higher risk. Look at routes / modes of transportation you will be using to determine any higher risk. Does the route you need to take go through a bad area? Are there alternate routes you can use instead? Are there crime issues using mass transit? And so forth.
The next step is to map out the locations of hospitals, clinics, etc, that you may need to use in the event of a medical emergency; the location of your country’s embassy or consulate (if overseas); locations of local police and fire stations in the area you will live and work.
Develop a journey management plan of how you will move from point A to point B, what mode of transport will you use, what are the likely risks and where can you go for help.
You can do all the above before you ever leave home for the new city.
Upon arrival, spend at least a day or two (depending on the duration of your visit) familiarizing yourself with the city and verifying the information you gathered in advance against the realities on the ground. Time travel legs at various times of day and identify any issues or risks that may not have been apparent in your initial, remote assessment.
Also take time to gather atmospherics (what does the location feel like, how do the people behave, etc.) and establish baselines.
Protection professionals call the above process an “advance”. It gives you a level of familiarity with the location and prepares you to better detect a potential threat and gives you a toolbox of potential responses based on your familiarity.
Once on the ground, utilize good situational awareness (Situational Awareness & Effective Decision Makin) and good personal security practices (Not in Kansas Anymore…… and Nothing Good Happens After Midnight ).