Traveling isn’t as dangerous as people think, I promise you that! But if your fed up with the standard backpacking trips that people take, you want to go further, you want to really travel, go to places where you’ll be the only foreigner, then you have to be a little careful or you may end up on the BBC news as a dead tourist!
I’ve been on the road for the last 5 years or so and I love to go to places where other backpackers don’t go. Some of the crazy places I’ve been over the last couple of years include Syria, East Timor, Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia etc
I’m going to run through my top 5 safety tips to make sure you don’t wind up on the back of a milk carton or the front page of your local newspaper, read up!
1) Be aware of the politics: There’s no need to take a politics degree before you go to a ‘dangerous’ country BUT be sure to have a basic knowledge of what’s going on in the country before you go. Work out what you can and can’t talk about, and generally use your new found knowledge to avoid any political vibes at all, you’re there for the culture, the sights and the fun NOT as a political activist so steer clear of anything even mildly political
2) Don’t flaunt your (relative) wealth: I don’t consider myself rich at all but when I’m traveling through Africa, there’s no need for me to unleash my macbook/iphone/kindle at every given opportunity. Keep them locked away until you’re in your hostel, or at the very least, be discreet. The last thing you want to do is create a situation for any opportunistic individual to grab your goodies :S
3) Respect religion: If there’s one thing in this world liable to cause offense, it’s religion. So try to do a bit of research about the religion in the region you’re visiting, learn what’s acceptable and what not, ask people about local habits and don’t infringe on anyone’s religious beliefs. You’re in their country, so we should respect that and their choices.
4) Lay off the booze: Some countries just love to drink! But if that country is particularly religiously or politically charged when you’re there, I’d stay away from the booze. The situation may be quite unstable and a drunk foreigner singing Westlife at the top of his/her voice is not going to help settle things down! There’ll be plenty of time to party on your travels, you can skip a country here or there in the name of safety.
5) Be Smart: If a country is know to be dangerous, then be smart. If there’s a curfew, heed it. If there’s a lot of crime at night, stay in after sunset. You know how it goes, don’t be that tourist who stupidly finds themselves in a tricky situation through a couple of bad decisions. Stay focused and you’ll be fine.
Ok guys, that’s your lot. I hope this should keep us all on the straight and narrow as we backpack through Afghanistan, North Korean and Libya in the next few months!! Stay safe and happy travels!
Do you have any additional tips? Feel free to share it in the comment section.
Author: Johnny Ward – Founder of the hugely popular travel blog One Step 4 Ward and the English teaching company Teach dot Travel (work/study in Thailand/Korea), uses his site and company to inspire people to redesign their lives, and live the dream! He’s been on the road since 2006, backpacking, studying, and working through more than 50 countries around the globe, and has no plans of slowing down. Also, check out my short interview with Johnny Ward.