I can confidently say that 99% of us have left our brain back home as we giddily head out the door for yet another vacation. After all, it’s been 389.8888 days since the last one, you deserve to have fun! Here’s the thing. When you add a foreign country or location you’re not familiar with, leaving your brain back home may not be such a good idea. Let’s talk a little bit about how to stay out of trouble while traveling. Last thing you want to have happen is end up as a featured story on that show ‘When Vacations Attack’ right?
All these points I’m about to cover have been observed in some form or fashion while Derik and I have been on the road ourselves.
1. Have ‘travel smarts.’ I wrote about this after our trip to Borneo. Here’s the deal: if you want to stay out of trouble, you can’t travel blindly. Know where you’re going and what you’re getting yourself into.
Don’t carry around expensive stuff, especially in a poorer country. Traveling around in a foreign country (especially SE Asia) is not the place to flash that new Prada bag, gigantic diamond ring, or Louis Vuitton shoes
(who can afford those anyway). By doing that, you’re basically holding up a huge neon sign that reads: ‘I’m ridiculously rich, take advantage of me!’
Since we’re talking about traveling smartly, make sure that while your researching an area, you look up what’s acceptable and not acceptable to wear. Topless in Thailand doesn’t fly so well with the locals. Just sayin’. If you’re really wanting to be nice, you can even check out what gestures are offensive. You’d be surprised how many people you can piss off by merely pointing your finger in Malaysia.
2. Filter people/have discretion with those you hang out with. I’m all for meeting people while on the road. Traveling gives you an opportunity to make great friends from every corner of the earth, and all you have to do is open up a little bit. However, there are a lot of scumbags out there (shocker). If someone seems a bit off and you get that ‘feeling’ in your gut about them? LISTEN TO IT.
Also, be careful about the locals. We’ve noticed it’s about 70/30 when it comes to someone wanting to have a conversation (maybe practice their English) and genuinely help you out, and that person who ultimately wants you to jump in their scary, white
dark tinted windowed van with them and have them bring you to who knows where. You’d be surprised how ballsy some of these guys actually can be.
3. Be confident. One of the most important things about traveling is to be confident in what you’re doing. You may not have the best itinerary planned, but don’t let the rest of the world know that nobody back home has any idea where you are or what you’re doing for the next two months. If you have to make something up for the sake of seeming like you got it together? Do it. Nothing will get you into more trouble than being wishy-washy, flaky, ignorant, and gullible.
4. Don’t give your passport to anyone. Seems like a no-brainer statement right? While walking down the streets in Phuket, Thailand, you can imagine my surprise as I saw foreigner after foreigner willingly hand over the only document that allows them to legally stay in the country to some sketch motorbike rental place in order to get a $50 scooter for the week. In no way are you ever obligated to surrender your passport to anyone. It’s illegal, and no legitimate business (or pretend business) can actually force you to hand it over. If you take a stand against giving up your passport, you’ll quickly realize that the shop owner knows it’s illegal. They’ll either shrug it off and laugh, or just walk away from you. Yes, there is liability reasons for them wanting your passport, but most can be convinced to rent you wheels if you leave a deposit (and a copy of your passport) instead.