You’ve probably heard a few horror stories of how naïve travelers ventured into foreign lands and met horrible fates. Sadly, some of those stories are probably true. The world isn’t all flowers and rainbows, and every country has its dark secrets.
Scrutinize Your Destination
Some places are safer than others, and there are reasons the government issues travel warnings. Trusting familiar people is fine, but believing that everyone will be kind and friendly can be dangerous. Sometimes, naiveté will not only cost you a bit of your money or your belongings; it can cost you your life. Just last year, a couple of Scandinavian women were brutally killed while hiking in Morocco. A young American couple, intent on showing that people were naturally kind and evil was a make-believe concept, were 2 of 4 cyclists killed in Tajikistan, a country known for Muslim radicals. Before you travel to another country, make sure to get updates on recent events and existing travel advisories. If you want to take cycling holidays on foreign soil, choose the roads of safer countries like Italy or France.
Make Contacts Before You Even Arrive
If you have someone on the ground before your plane even lands, the chances of something untoward happening to your person drops to zero or close to it. A friend, a local guide, or even a mutual acquaintance can make your trip a lot safer and enjoyable. Nobody knows the trappings of their country like the locals, and having one to guide you makes navigating through the country a little bit easier. They know which places are safe and which places to avoid, what food to eat, and what can send you to the toilet for days. Finding a local expat is even better. He or she can share their experiences and give you a hint on how foreigners are faring in the country. If you can’t find someone on the ground, the next best thing is to read the latest travel reviews or get in touch with someone who recently visited the country. You might even get a number of a trusted contact.
Keep Track of Your Surroundings
Theft is one of the most common problems tourists face. Secure your possessions and make sure you don’t have any sensitive material on your phone or any other device. Try to dress like the locals and try not to stand out or look like a rich, entitled tourist. Take note of the people around you, and if you think you’re being followed, try to enter a public establishment. Avoid going solo in crowded environments and always try to be part of a group. More people means more eyes, and safety in numbers still rings true.
In the end, the world is truly a beautiful place, but you have to remember that it can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful. Every trip should be a delightful experience, and you can make it so by practicing due diligence and being a bit more vigilant.