Instead, research your destination in advance, observe how people dress, and try to pass as a local – or, if that’s impossible, try to pass as a longtime expat. That means eschewing the backpacker trail uniform of drop-crotch hippie pants and souvenir beer t-shirts in favor of casual but neat and tidy clothing. That means covering your arms, legs, and cleavage in Muslim countries, wearing loose clothing in India, and wearing long pants in Europe and Latin America. In tandem with blending in, it’s important to maintain confidence at all times, and even if you’re not confident, at least maintain the appearance of confidence. When you’re walking down the street, hold your head up. Look straight ahead and walk with a purpose. Pretend that you have somewhere important to be, and if you fall prey to street harassment, ignore it and keep moving.
If you become lost and you need to find your way, slip into a shop or café to consult your map before continuing on.
Check in Regularly
Staying in touch is a way to assuage the fears of your loved ones, but if you find yourself in trouble, they would be able to locate you much more easily than if you had been vague about your whereabouts. For me this means always checking in with Rebekah after meetings and dinners while traveling. If she doesn’t hear from me, she knows something is up!
Research Your Destination Thoroughly Before Your Trip
Are there any travel warnings? In regard to culture are there any things that you need to avoid that may be common in the States but would be offensive to them? Research clothing as well if you are going to the Middle East as to not offend anyone.
What are the best neighborhoods and the ones you should avoid if traveling to an undeveloped country? Are there only certain kinds of transportation you should take or avoid?
When it comes to your lodging, how are its ratings for safety? What are former guests saying about their experiences?
How are you going to get around? What is public transportation like in your destination?
Again depending on where you are going do you need to visit a travel clinic beforehand and talk to a doctor or nurse where you’re going. Do you need any vaccinations or prescriptions? Are there local health issues for which you should prepare?
This is the stuff to find out in advance, well before your trip begins.
ADVENTURE STORY: Even after researching before my first trip to the Middle East on how to properly dress I was still naive to what I was going to see. We unexpectedly landed in Pakistan where there were Machine Guns lining the runway. I had researched the hotel we were staying at but had no idea that when we pulled up we would have a bomb check done on the car and us before being allowed to enter into what looked more like a prison than the Westin. There were 20’+ concrete walls topped with Barbed wire. I knew that it was an undeveloped country but to actually see it was different…a car being set on fire in the street and then pass back by later that night to see the car still sitting in the same spot …just a pile of charred metal was something that I wouldn’t have been able to prepare for.
Last warning: Wanderlust is contagious!