- Have a plan but be flexible
Part of the fun in traveling is having a general idea of the activities you want to do, but also allowing room for spontaneity. The locals may tell you about a special hiking trail or a well-kept town secret that you should explore. It’s important to have a plan of action, but don’t be afraid to deviate and go exploring. If you are so focused on a set itinerary, you may end up missing out on a spectacular, unexpected adventure.
- Research the trains or bus system
Transportation systems can be a nightmare to figure out. Allow me to set the scene….imagine people rushing around, strangers invading your personal space, beggars asking for spare change, kids crying…overwhelming right? Actually neurotic would be the more appropriate description. When traveling abroad, download the Rail Planner app. You won’t regret it and it works without wifi. Genious!
- Be careful of pick-pocketers
Do not entrust your luggage or bags to anyone. I know this seems like a no-brainer but the only person you can trust with your belongings is YOU. Keep your backpack locked and never unattended. Ladies, keep your purses close to your body, with your hand over the straps closest to the zipper. Never put all of your money in one place, hide it multiple places on your person (wallet, shoe, moneybelt). Finally, do not fall for scams. Walk with confidence, always be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t feel obligated to fully answer every question you’re asked
Use your best judgement on this. Some common questions you will encounter are “what’s your name, where are you from, where are you staying, how long will you be here?” Don’t feel compelled to relay every detail of your life or travel plans. It’s perfectly fine to assume some anonymity. Even though most people have good intentions, be careful about how much information you divulge to strangers. Be guarded for the sake of your safety.
- Try to immerse yourself in their culture
Try to speak in the native tongue, eat regional cuisine, stroll through city parks, and explore non-touristy areas when traveling abroad. The best way to experience the wonders of a city is to people-watch and engage the locals in casual conversation. People appreciate it when you try to understand their way of life and take a special interest in their culture. Plus a smile always translates, regardless of any language barrier.