As you can probably guess, I have wanderlust, and if I don’t get out of the country at least once a year I get antsy. As far as safety goes, I usually try to stick to my common sense rules for foreign travel.
- Don’t try to be cool and bring valuables or wear designer clothes; try your best to blend in with the locals.
(I did rock my Versace shades in Panama…but only because nonpolarized shades are terrible for your eyes and those are my only polarized shades).
- Speak anything but English when possible or people will take advantage of you and milk you for your money.
- Dress more conservatively than a female might in the States.
(I once got kicked out of a bank in Cuba because I was ignorant of the fact that wearing shorts is unacceptable in banks…some rude lady caused a big scene and let’s just say I left angry and without my cash).
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers and don’t get wasted, for obvious reasons.
- Leave your passport at your lodging unless you absolutely need it, and carry an ID
(Don’t forget it at the airport either…I almost forgot my passport on the airport counter in TNT but a kind soul chased me down!).
- Use cash whenever possible and set a budget for how much cash you can spend per day. Only carry a day’s worth of cash on you in case you happen to get mugged.
(And if you’re swinging by the hood for lunch, consider hiding your cash on you instead of in your bag. Have some street sense— if the locals aren’t hanging their bags on the backs of their chairs, you probably shouldn’t either).
- Do your research ahead on what parts of town to avoid and at what hours, but also ask the locals for more detailed info.
- Know the emergency number to dial, and register your trip online with your home country’s embassy prior to going (Definitely forgot to do that this time). You can sign up for text alerts in the event of emergencies.
- Don’t drink the tap water.
(I always end up forgetting and drinking the tap water at restaurants, but I have a hardy stomach and have never gotten sick).
- Most importantly, always do research ahead of time on the local language, culture, everything.
Stay safe and happy travels!