Advisories

A traveler without observation is a bird without wings – Moslih Eddin Saadi

Advisories

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Be prepared. Don't ruin that vacation or other travel plans. Always check the latest travel advisories before you go.

1. "Know the norms: There are certain things that we do every day (hand gestures, facial expression, even wearing certain accessories) that may send different signals to people in other countries than they do to people back home. To avoid any misunderstandings that could lead to an altercation, ask someone who is familiar with the cultural norms of your host country as many questions as possible. Your best bet is to find another expat who may have a better of idea of issues that might get confused in cultural translation.

2. Look the part: This doesn’t mean just dressing like a local (because let’s face it, some of us are never going to fit in everywhere), but is more about appearing confident and sure of yourself in your surroundings. When you leave your home or hotel or hostel, make sure that you know where you are going so that you don’t have to check a map or stop too many people for directions. If you do get lost, find a shop to stop into and ask the person behind the counter, rather than approaching a person on the street for directions. Looking confident will make you appear less vulnerable.

3. Avoid traveling alone: A single person is more of a target than a group. Even if you are a loner, and prefer to be on your own while traveling, it doesn’t hurt to be friendly with groups of people that you meet on the road. This is particularly true when you are arriving somewhere for the first time: getting off of a bus, plane or train is one of the most likely times that you will be victim of a petty crime like robbery. Instead, make some casual friends and be part of the group, just until you get to your final destination. You’ll find that most travelers are happy to have new people to exchange tips and stories with.

4. Talk to the bus driver: Bus drivers, and other people who work in public transportation, know just about everything about the communities they serve, and they have even more specific knowledge of the tourist experience since they spend much of their time in vehicles with out-of-towners. While it’s always polite to try to strike up a pleasant conversation with someone you are in a car with, talking to taxi and bus drivers in a foreign land can help you get some more detailed, insider information about how safe a place really is, or isn’t.

Advice for Women Travelers...Be aware of stereotypes: This piece of advice is probably going to be somewhat unpopular, since no one wants to be culturally insensitive, or to change her behavior dramatically in order to fit in, but the truth of it is, women are viewed in many cultures...

And avoid familiarity...This can come into play when it comes to friendships between men and women – in many cultures, it is normal to hug, walk arm-in-arm, even hold hands with someone who is simply a friends. In other cultures however, this might be seen as some sort of advance. While it might go against your nature, you should make it a point to avoid being overly familiar with people before you have a handle on the way in which people interact physically as friends."

Source: What a U.S. Travel Advisory Means To You, Working Abroad Magazine, November 12, 2010.

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Last Updated : Friday, October 16, 2020