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Travelling is a wonderful way to see the world – however it does not come danger-free. Every rose has its thorns and we only need to learn how to pick it the right way to avoid getting hurt. Here is a list of some behaviors you can adopt for safer travelling. Enjoy!
· BE INFORMED – The biggest problems usually originate from misunderstandings and poor information. The easiest way to avoid these is educating yourself about the country you visit - from its customs/culture/uses to its transportation system, religion, weather… Good guidebooks are the first go-to solution to get updated and reliable information on a country (Lonely Planet Guidebooks are our choice). Blogs are always a great source of information coming from real-life experiences.
· BLEND IN – Most of the times looking like a tourist makes you an easy target in a crowd. Here are few precautions which will help you blend in more easily in any country.
- Don't be flashy - Use common sense, for example by avoiding wearing expensive clothing and jewelry in India or South America in a local market.
- Adopt local fashion trends – Much more like learning local language study the traditional dress codes & habits of the visited country and choose one or two items or colors you might be able to incorporate in your own style, like a scarf, a hat,… These also make great trip souvenirs. Remember that in most cases fashion is a reflection of cultural and religious values, so be respectful of the clothing requirements when entering a religious place or even in public places. More HERE
- Use local currency – Using credit cards or foreign currency can draw attention, especially in very local businesses or markets.
- Don't be predictable – Even when you travel in your own country it's easy to be identified as a tourist – avoid common clichés and extremely touristy places and try to explore off the beaten path more (always stay in safe areas), you won't regret it!
· LOCAL LANGUAGE - Learning local words is a powerful tool to connect with people. It's amazing how easier you can establish a better communication and understanding by simply thanking or greeting people in their own language. You can use a translator App on your mobile to help your memory.
· INSURANCE – One can never be too careful. No matter how much prepared and safe you feel for your trip, insurance will give you an additional peace of mind and financial security. Be aware of your insurance policy, what is covered, what is not, how to make a claim. See more HERE
· BE RESPECTFUL – Travelling requires an open mind and being ready to embrace different laws and customs when necessary (never go against your morals though and just avoid uncomfortable situations). Read as much as you can about the local customs of the visited country and adhere to their standards of proper behavior. Below are just some common norms which vary among countries:
- Driving rules – if renting a vehicle in another country, be aware of the different road code and etiquette.
- Prohibited/ Restricted behaviors or items– Chewing gum or not flushing the toilet in Singapore is illegal; Australia bans completely backyard fireworks; you have to cover your legs up to your knees to enter a Buddhist temple and your head in Mosques….
- Be Culturally-Aware – Clothing codes are important: be mindful of different fashion trends and of the color symbolism of the country (for example, never wear yellow in Malaysia; this color is reserved for royalty). Be aware of eating habits as well (Muslims and Jews are forbidden to eat pork for example).
· USE TECHNOLOGY IN SAFE PLACES – Stay alert in public places when using your shiny new technology and know when it's best not to check your photo shots on your latest generation camera or not to check your Instagram on your state of the art mobile, for example when standing on a crowded bus or in a very poor neighbourhood. Especially if working online, test few cafes in town and choose the most reputable one where you feel safe and you don’t have to be on guard at all times.
· BE AWARE OF TRAVEL SCAMS - Safety perception is very different from one person to the other, however, our perception does not change how dangerous certain places or situations might be in real life – guidebooks, blogs or newspapers can give you a good idea of crime statistics or common travel scams around the world. Be particularly vigilant in crowded places or very isolated streets and close to ATM machines; don`t trust people who promise you too-good-to-be-true deals; taxis near airports or train stations in some countries are shady businesses sometimes and will try to charge you an unreasonable price…
- Security pouch – It doesn’t hurt to have a special pouch where you can keep your valuables - newest money belts also include RFID Block protection which shields your credit cards and passports from electronic identity theft.
- Protected WiFi – free unlocked connections are very tempting, however they might come with a surprise. Make sure you use a VPN, a Virtual Private Network which provides a layer of protection between your device and the internet at large (our choice: Encrypt.me)
· LUGGAGE SECURITY – When travelling your luggage is like your home: everything you owns for your trip is in this small compact container and losing it is a big deal. Padlocksare only the first step to secure your bag, however any good thief can bypass your locks. Be also aware airport security staff have the right to open your luggage for arbitrary or targeted searches, ending up breaking your lock if necessary (it happened to us in USA). So place anything of significant value in your carry-on within your reach when flying. The same applies on public transport – don`t leave anything of value in the bus luggage storage or in train lockers. Unattended luggage at shared accommodation like hostels and backpackers are also easy target and be also wary of room cleaners in hotels. Investing some extra money in a private room is recommended but keep your luggage safely locked even there when you are not around. When flying put tags and stickers on your luggage – these will make it recognizable at baggage claim.