Travel is an amazing pursuit, and something that infects the spirit and often becomes a lifelong addiction. Whether your idea of travel is wandering through the lush opulence of resorts or hotels in Malaysia, sitting in a grass hut with a local Maasai family in Kenya or jet setting off for a week of shopping and fine dining in New York City, there are some universal safety tips that can help make sure your experiences are good ones. Here are a few things to consider when travelling:
If you’re one of those travellers who likes to fly by the seat of their pants (and see where the wind blows them) then you’re not going to like this tip, but letting someone know where you’ll be—or at least where you are—is the best way to make sure you remain contactable if needed. Natural disasters, political unrest, and terrorism—these are all, sadly, part of life in the modern world.
So, if no one on earth knows where you are then it is very difficult for people to be able to protect or help you. In addition to this, for practical purposes you need to be contactable—say someone from home falls ill, or has important information to give you, they shouldn’t have to wait a month and a half until the next time you’re at a computer.
You might think that wearing a travel belt makes you feel a bit silly, but nothing makes you feel sillier than being robbed blind in a foreign country. Many foreign countries experience different levels of petty crime and poverty, and if you’re from a western country then chances are you are seen as rich and an easy target.
You might not think of yourself as wealthy, but to someone in Africa or Southeast Asia, you are. For this reason, pick pocketing can be a big problem, and rather than risk having your wallet and passport stolen, keeping them underneath your clothes in a travel wallet or belt makes them much harder to get to.
In India, for example, it’s a common scam for taxi drivers to pick you up at the airport and, when you give them the name of the hotel you’re supposed to be staying at, tell you it has burned down. This is part of an elaborate ploy to get you to stay at their friend’s/cousin’s/brother’s hotel instead, and it works more often than you’d think. This is information available to any tourist who puts in a bit of research, so consider reading up on common scams, dangers or annoyances before you visit a place to make sure you’re not taken for a ride.
Most dangerous or unpleasant situations in foreign countries can be avoided if you simply show respect for the local customs. Treat people with respect and it is likely that they will treat you in the same way, but be culturally insensitive or insult local traditions, and you’re likely to run into drama. Whether you’re in five star Vietnam hotels or a hostel in backwater Alabama, the people you meet will be proud of their home—so show it, and them, the respect they deserve.