Don't Be A Paranoid Traveler
Part of the #DoYouIndie Challenge
There is a big difference between caution and paranoia. Caution can save your life. Paranoia on the other hand, causes unnecessary stress and will only hinder your travels.
suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.
care taken to avoid danger or mistakes.
When you travel you need to keep an open mind in unfamiliar places. This requires awareness and, yes, caution. You need to be able to tell when something might be “off” about a situation.
This caution doesn’t mean you should assume everyone is trying to rip you off or every man on the street wants to rob you, this is when you get too close to that crippling paranoia. Instead-be smart. Do your research in advance and think things through. Some areas in some cities have higher rates of crime, be aware in those areas. Put your wallet in your front pocket. Walk in a group. If you’ve done your homework you know when you need a heightened awareness. This does not mean that everyone you pass is a criminal.
In fact most people aren’t criminals. The media has done a good job of sharing hundreds of travel horror stories about robberies, kidnappings, even murder. Be smart, it’s unlikely that it’ll happen to you. In fact-in most cases-the risks of theft, kidnapping, or murder are just as high walking the streets of your own country. Of course nobody thinks about it this way. But that doesn’t make it less true.
Some BasicTravel Tips
How to Practice Caution
- Research first. You need to know the environment you’re visiting. If pickpocketing is a problem wear a money belt. If it isn’t safe to walk the streets at night, don’t walk the streets at night.
- If you’re going to the bar, bring a buddy. Don’t drink alone with strangers.
- Lock the door to your hotel/hostel.
- Figure out the general prices of things so you’ll know if you’re being ripped off.
- Avoid pickpockets - don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket.
- Always know where your passport is.
- Generally employ the same safety strategies you use at home, being abroad is not that different.
A Trip While Paranoid
When I was in Morocco I met a man who was traveling alone. He was so nervous about Morocco -he had apparently heard horror stories- that he spent his two week stay almost entirely in the hostel. He told me that his first time out of the hostel he had been yelled at by a local and proceeded to get lost. It was naturally a rather hot and miserable experience. After that he just gave up on leaving much at all except to get food.
Now that’s a pretty sad story. A combination of research in advance (you probably shouldn’t backpack Morocco alone) and decreased paranoia could have vastly improved his trip. He let his fear of the place ruin his opportunity to experience it.
I am a very small woman (21 at the time of my trip) who was traveling with a male friend. We got lost a lot, and I got leered at more than once. But I had done my research and I knew that their culture severely disapproves anyone making an actual move on me. I knew that having my male friend with me allowed me to tell them I was married. I knew that I would get lost, but didn’t allow it to ruin my trip. We had vastly different experiences because I was cautious and he was paranoid.
When it comes to taxi drivers it’s usually safe to be paranoid. Almost no matter where you are in the world they’re more than happy to rip you off. (Though most won’t hurt you).
Always set fares in advance or make sure they use their meter. Otherwise, they get to set whatever price they want and you have to pay it. Not fun.
In the end my advice is:
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt until they blow it.
If you wouldn't do it at home, don't do it abroad.