Curbing Your Patriotism & Safety Tips
Challenge The Stereotype Of Your Country
Depending on where you’re traveling, there will most likely be cultural differences to research prior to departure. Respecting these “norms” is essential. As an American, I’ve attempted to challenge the stereotype of my country’s tourists; characteristics such as being loud, inconsiderate and uneducated. By trying to blend into the culture, I find it easier to experience organic politeness when engaging with locals. Take France for example, unfortunately known for its attitude towards Americans. To guarantee better reactions when seeking directions or help, don’t begin sentences in English. They will immediately display impatience or most likely a lack of interest to help you. Rather, if you approach someone and say “Parlez-vous Anglais?” (“do you speak English”), they will feel more respected – thus hopefully aiding the situation from the start.
Blend Into The Culture
The rest of the world feels inclined to protect their culture and traditions. Therefore they might not be interested in yours (nor is it the chance for taking place in debates at bars). I’m pretty sure the mission of your trip isn’t to “westernize” the country you’re visiting either. Countries where the Church influences the Government need to especially be respected. For example in Italy, the Vatican has a modest dress code and enforcers to turn those away bearing shoulders. Women traveling in Iran must wear coats down to the knees and cover their hair. Will you be arrested for ignoring their policies? Maybe not, although the police will definitely approach you and tell you that you must find other garments or fix your hijab.
Avoid Being A Targeted Foreigner
Personally, I refrain from wearing recognizable American clothing brands while in “watch list” countries. There’s no point in walking around with my large North Face logo while in the tiny streets of Morocco. Depending on where you travel these days, you shouldn’t ignore the threats of terrorism. Radical crimes take place daily all over the world and unfortunately tourists in the wrong place at the wrong time can suffer from attacks. We should not let that plant seeds of fear in our heads, although rather educate ourselves on safety precautions. In addition, identity theft is a global growing problem, especially for travelers. We are more vulnerable because we’re forced to use unsecured wifi connections, carry personal documentation such as passports and share credit cards with merchants we'll never see again.
Travel is supposed to take you out of your comfort zone, but never push your limits when it comes to safety.
Ways To Prevent Identity Theft & Normal Safety Precautions
- Be careful about shared and unsecure internet connections and delete all cookies / browsing history on public terminals
- Use only bank ATM's when withdrawing cash
- Do not split taxis with strangers
- Keep your purses and backpacks in front of you while riding the metro
- Ask your hosts or hotel concierge which neighborhoods to avoid at night
- If traveling with a small knife as a self defense weapon, hide it in your boot
- Report suspiciously abandoned baggage on trains and in airports to officials
- Men, do not keep wallets or phones in your back pocket, always front pocket
- Solo travelers, take the more populated routes home (sit next to other women, couples or children on public transportation)
- Women, you can hide large amounts of cash in a slit menstrual pad packet (I’m sure no man will steal a pad while finagling through your purse)
- Know your country’s emergency number, such as USA’S 911 or France’s 112
- If your passport is stolen, locate your country’s Embassy and apply for a new one immediately! The process might take longer than expected