Things to Avoid While Traveling
Traveling is the best thing that I have ever done for myself. It opens my eyes to the world and of different cultures and languages! I have tried different foods, that never in my life would I have even thought about trying. I like to travel with the motto, “When in (insert name of country).”
With traveling, there also comes risks. As in my previous post, When in Rome II: Getting Conned this can happen to anyone, anywhere. While Rome is actually notorious for these things, here are a few tips for making yourself blend in.
- Travel Light/Overpacking
All of us love our things. We probably tend to over-pack at times, especially when we may be leaving the country; because you never know what you may need–that you forgot. Packing Lists can really help you while you’re packing. Knowing what you have, and what you will need.
*Taking the time to research the weather, and even study the style in your location will help you not stand out as a tourist.*
Leaving the airport and getting to your destination from the airport, can bring unwanted attention. Especially if you have more than one bag. You can only keep your eyes on some of your things–not all of them. And having so many bags let’s thieves know that you are a tourist, not from the area, and are easy to con/steal from.
2. Searching through your bags.
This may seem like the easiest thought to remember. When you pack, whether it’s your luggage, your backpack, or even your purse. Not only pack light, but pack so that you know exactly where things are. Taking your eyes off your environment for even a second can cause you harm, and can make you “misplace” items.
Even on a train! There are so many pickpockets and thieves around–they also work in partners/groups. People will ask you to sign a petition and donate. A friend and I had the misadventure of signing a petition. I turned around to ask my friend if she had any small euros, and she turned to check her bag–sure enough, the next second her iPad was gone. (I still feel completely responsible for this, and still feel awful!).
*Bring bags that close completely, and make sure they are always closed.*
3. Flashing Money Around
Of course, this means money as in cash, but it also means expensive jewelry, watches, purses, wallets, bags, shoes. If it looks like you have money AND a tourist, you are easily a target. Separate your cash. Leave some in your accommodations in your other bag. There are so many cool little tricks to do this. But this way, if you do get robbed, you will still have something to fall back on.
This also plays a part in when and where you go to ATMs. I choose to do the ATMs where you have to go inside a building. It’s more private. No one is looking over your shoulder or getting too close. ALWAYS go in the day time, and during business hours. If you have a friend with you, have them keep a look out. It’s nice to have someone have your back.
4. Getting Drunk
This is something one really needs to keep in mind anywhere in the world. Even if you’re at your neighborhood bar. Drinking in general can give a person a sense of ease–less anxiety, shorter attention span, impairment of judgment (at that begins with your BAC at 0.03). While this may just mean you are now relaxed, and can get on the dance floor and meet new people. It also means you may meet someone that’s going to try and take advantage of you. As you may already know, the more you drink, the different symptoms you get, such as memory loss, did I leave my credit card on the table, did I just walk away from my purse and my drink, problems with your balance, blurred vision, delayed motor reactions. The symptoms only get worse.
Being a woman, that can mean danger. Maybe that really cute guy/girl that I was chatting with all night wants to go back to my hotel. Fine, you do you girl—but that is also where ALL the belongings you have currently are. Theft is one of the least important things that could happen to you when you’re drinking. You could get into someone’s car, be taken to somewhere you don’t know, end up with the wrong person who doesn’t take no–or, worse. Everyone likes to think that they’re smarter than that other person, or they can make good judgement calls.
There’s nothing wrong with having a drink. When traveling, I would try to limit it to just that, A drink. (Really, you just need to know your limits.) When traveling solo, I do not drink–honestly, I don’t drink much at all when I am traveling. When I do travel with some friends, a couple of drinks is fine–but that is only when I feel 110% comfortable with where I am, and I know exactly how I’m getting home. I don’t stray from my plan that I make PRIOR to going out.
5. Looking Lost
There’s nothing wrong with getting lost. It always makes for a good story and a good adventure. I try to get lost in every city that I go to, I always seem to find hidden gems that I wouldn’t have normally found. Getting lost and looking lost are two very different things. I make sure I look content, and look like I’m on a mission when I get lost. I don’t look terrified, and look like I’m trying to find something.
This happened once when I was in Hawaii, it was maybe about 4am in Waikiki. This guy started following me and after a while, trying to talk to me. I went into the first hotel I saw and just sat in there for a few minutes, the front desk agent gave me a smile and a nod and had no issue with me sitting in there until I was ready to leave. Which I did, after about 15 minutes and ran into a friend, right as I got an Uber.
Luckily, there is always Google Maps that can get you out of a situation.
6. Keeping your eyes on your phone
Keeping an eye on your environment is the biggest thing you need to do. Let me repeat that. Keeping an eye on your environment is your biggest safety measure. You need to be observant. You need to know who’s walking behind you, next to you. Who’s sitting next to you on the train, standing next to you in the subway. Walking with your head in your phone can draw attention to yourself– and let’s face it, you’re trying to keep attention off of yourself. I do check my phone here and there, especially if I’m using it for directions when walking, public transportation, even as a translator at times. Of course, I am constantly taking pictures of all the beauty I am seeing. But I am not walking and texting, or going on Instagram while I’m walking. I’ll save that for when I’m at a restaurant, or back at my place of residence for the time being.
Following these steps can keep you blended in as a citizen, rather than a tourist easy to prey on.
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