Travel Advice

 
  1.  Learn at least some of the local language, especially greetings and thank you. Asking about how to say this or that can be an icebreaker.
  2. Dress modestly, both men and women.
  3. Trust your gut. Begin developing that now.
  4. When you go in to a place, always keep an eye open for a way out. Be aware of your surroundings. When you walk down a street, stop occasionally, turn around and see the street from your returning direction.
  5. Keep in mind that "getting wasted" renders you very vulnerable.
  6. If you feel in danger, seek out a family and hang out with them. If not a family, then an old man. The old man's moral authority may keep the "wolves" at bay. This saved me once in South Africa.
  7. Don’t trust people who come to you offering their services such as a taxi or directions. Ask someone YOU choose out of the crowd of hawkers, not the one who gets to you first.
  8. Sob stories. Ask yourself why are they asking you? They should first ask their friends and relatives. Some people make their livings plying foreigners with sob stories.
  9. Give to organizations that help the poor, not beggars, especially child beggars.
  10. On the other hand, give money to/buy things from petty entrepreneurs and buskers. In NYC, for example, I keep loose dollar bills ready to give to these folks.
  11. Keep your money in at least 3 different places. Don’t carry it all on you when you go out for the evening. Carry only a copy of your passport when you walk around.
  12. Keep your valuables hidden. Leave expensive or sentimental jewelry and accessories home.
  13. Keep your big camera tucked away in a bag and only pull it out to shoot. Consider taping over the brand name of the camera with black tape. Unless you’re in a place with a lot of tourists, take your pictures quickly and return the camera to your bag. Speaking of which, take a photography course before you go.
  14. Research the fees of credit cards vs debit cards. Let your card company know that you’ll be traveling abroad. Be aware of international calling/texting rates. Use Skype or its equivalent.
  15. Make yourself a crib sheet with currency equivilents. Find out tipping customs.
  16. Stay at hostels, Airbnbs, or other small hotels or guest stays as much as possible. Hostels can be a great source of a lot of local travel information.
  17. Keep yourself healthy. Drink plenty of clean water. Take seriously any advice not to eat fresh lettuce or fruit without skins. When you buy bottled water make sure you are breaking a seal when you open it. Get enough rest.
  18.  Don’t get aggravated when people do things differently than you, whether it’s driving crazily, moving more slowly, etc. Put yourself in a slower, more relaxed frame of mind.
  19. Look around you to see what others are doing. Be aware that pointing the sole of your foot at someone such as when you cross your knee is very rude in some cultures. Make sure you aren't speaking more loudly than others around you.

  20. Cultivate your curiosity.