Many people are afraid of traveling because of all the bad experiences they have heard from others. Indeed once one leaves their comfort zone there are many unknowns, but this is part of the adventure. It is true that one is exposed to dangers when visiting places that are new and indeed it is impossible to completely prevent all kinds of problems, but this happens even at home. On the other hand most travelers who fall into unpleasant situations do not pay attention to one or more of the following tips. If a traveler is careful, prudent, respectful and friendly most likely they will not fall into any major trouble, so this has not to prevent one of going out and visiting this wonderful world.
1- If it seems too good probably it is not true: this is something so simple to remember, but it seems many people forget it so easily. Any offer, invitation, deal or suggestion that seems too good to be true probably is not. Just stay away from it, it will save you many headaches.
2- Pay the fair price: It is a great thing to want to take something back home, it may be a little souvenir or a luxury item, just be fair and pay the normal price. Accepting a price that is too low normally represents something unfair, illegal or fake. If the Item seems for you very expensive in its normal price it probably means you should not buy it at all. A supper cheap price tag may be a red flag of something that is stolen or just not genuine in the best of the cases.
3- Know your way around: Do not leave your hotel without knowing where you want to go, how to get there and what is more important how to get back to your hotel. If you do not speak the local language ask someone in the hotel to write a note to show to a cab driver in case you are lost.
4- Be friendly but remember you do not go abroad to find your new best friend: Travel opens minds and allows us to meet new people, but good interactions normally happen in an organic way. Do not expect to meet your next best friend in the Eiffel tower, who that same day offers to invite you to a luxurious dinner and to take care of all your expenses. Remember that princesses do not fall from heaven but high chances are that you are being scammed!
5- Know where and when to use your credit or debit cards: Do not use your card in a little rundown ATM in the midst of a bus terminal in the downtown. One can run into trouble with cards even in a luxurious hotel, but most likely your card will be cloned and information stolen in some places more than in others. It is better to use the cards in ATM located inside trusty bank branches and to be checking online bank statements constantly, and that is is even more important with debit cards.
6- Be mindful of local laws and customs: Just do not assume that laws are the same everywhere, or what is worse do not assume that your laws or your customs are the only important ones. This attitude makes many travelers to run into trouble every year from simple cultural misunderstandings to serious legal problems, just read a little and ask a lot and be respectful.
7- Know where to ask for help: if you are lost or want to ask for something do not start asking everybody in the street, try to approach a policemen, or if you see a good hotel just enter there, concierges are normally very helpful even with travelers who are not staying in the hotel.
8- Plan your trip ahead: Just to not arrive to an exotic destination and start looking for a hotel or what to do once you are there. That used to be the norm, but in this technological age one can plan any kind of trip ahead. From a simple backpackers escape to a luxurious vacation, one not only saves money but this approach is safer and allows one to choose the activities and places that match what one wants from the trip.
9- Be careful with currency exchange: it is good to do some research ahead. Not all places are the same, there are places that charge high commissions, others have a very bad exchange rate. Most of the times the best approach is to use the ATM, but there are as well many places in most destinations where one can exchange money, most times airport branches have a very bad exchange rate.
10- Go to bed early: I know I may sound like your mom but it will not only allow you to rest and enjoy the trip better but it will save you many troubles. Most travelers who find themselves in the midst of serious problems were out late. There is nothing wrong with partying or great nights out, but it is true that if one has to be prudent and alert during the day that is even more important during night.
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