The Top Five Tips For International Travelers
1. Blend In With the Locals
I know you THINK khaki shorts, knee high socks, fanny packs decorated with American flags, a Bermuda shirt, and a large camera around your neck look stylish, but it only screams “American tourist” which translates into “Please, pickpocket me. Pretty please?”
By blending in with the locals, you lessen your chances of being targeted for a crime (and might save a few bucks from people trying to sell the Yanks a fast one).
2. Stay Away from Tap Water
I can’t say that enough. Let’s repeat. Stay away from tap water. Why? Tap water in every location has different micro organisms swimming inside. Your body is used to one set of them.
But if you try and drink another set, you could be spending vacation in the bathroom. Personally, I have better ways of spending my vacation, so I stay away from tap water.
3. Learn the Local Language
While becoming fluent or even proficient is not necessary, learning at least a few dozen common phrases will not only polite but will keep you safer. “Hi,” “goodbye,” thank you,” “excuse me,” “do you speak English,” “I need the police,” and “pirates are soooo much better than ninjas” will get you a long way.
(OK, that last one will only help if you are going to an International Nerdfighters Conference, but you get the picture.) At the very least, carry a small pocket bilingual dictionary with you. The courtesy will go a long way when you need help from strangers.
4. Keep the Money In Your Pocket
Yes, their money does look funny. No, not everyone has money as boring as ours. But do not admire it while walking down the street, count it at the outdoor ATM, or pointing out your big wad of cash at a store.
Not only is it rude, it’s dangerous and will just paint a bull’s-eye on your forehead. Become familiar with the foreign currency in your hotel room. If you still have problems keeping track of denominations, only use your debit or credit cards.
5. Carry Your Passport on Your Body at All Times
Many countries require everyone to have official identification on them when in public. If you as a foreigner are stopped by the police and unable to show your passport, you will most likely be taken to jail until they are able to identify you.
Note photocopies of passports and state driver’s licenses are not considered official national IDs. Plus, the last time I checked, international holding cells weren’t hot vacation destinations at AAA.