I have read many travel blogs and tips recently, and while I find them useful, I am surprised most of the following were not mentioned. While saving money is key for travelers, safety may not be on all priority lists, but maybe it should be. Consider that the safer you are, the more fun you will have and you might even contract the travel bug. While everyone is thinking about having a good time in their travels, the fact of the matter is, the world can be a dangerous place, but it doesn’t have to be. People are, overall, inherently peaceful, pretty much everywhere in the world, but it doesn’t hurt to take a few extra precautions to keep you safe from that troublesome minority. Nothing puts you in more danger than looking like you don’t belong, so here are some tips to help you fit in.
#5 Have Pictures of your Maps
There are few things that make you stand out more than looking at a huge map with a quizzical look on your face when you arrive in a new country. Like the coyote after the roadrunner, you will quickly find people behind you, offering to help. While in some countries, these may be honest attempts at helping you out, it could also be a trick to scam you. I am not trying to tell you to be xenophobic and reject contact, but it is a fact that when you are disoriented, you make mistakes. Wandering Earl from wanderingearl.com goes further by suggesting that you take a break immediately after arriving in a new country.
One easy tip is to look up the general area of where you will be arriving on google maps and take a few screen shots. I have also tried doing this with my camera (especially a small point shoot). As you are looking at your phone, you will seem like you are just texting someone, while in fact, you are looking at a map. While I do like physical maps to look at in my hotel room, try not to stand out by whipping it out in public if avoidable.
#4 Divide Your Cash into Different Locations
Maybe it’s a bad habit of mine, but I don’t like to rely on withdrawing money abroad. With one notable exception, I have always brought all the cash I needed on a trip. Besides, something could go wrong like my card not working or I could get mugged right after withdrawing. For this (and other money saving reasons), I always carry cash. However, you also don’t want to carry a bunch of cash in your wallet. Try dividing what you do have into separate locations. I like to put a third in my wallet, a third in a secret pocket in my backpack (which I leave in a hotel / hostel if possible), and a third in my socks (yes the ones I am wearing, don’t judge me!) Theft or hustling does happen, and it is best that you lose some of your money than all of it.
Furthermore, having little money in your wallet makes the art of haggling much easier. It is difficult to tell a salesman that you don’t have much money left in an attempt to have them lower the price when your wallet is bursting with cash. In many countries, haggling is a way of life and a friendly exchange where neither the salesman nor the local is usually offended. While stretching the truth and exaggeration is expected, outright lying to someone’s face can be offensive. Usually, I even divide the money in my wallet, keeping big bills hidden so that no one thinks I am loaded when it is time to pay.