The number of times I’ve been warned by my friends or family about the cities I travel too are infinite. No need to worry because a little bit of travel street smarts can go a long way! I’m sure you have heard these phrases too…
“It’s very dangerous there!” “Don’t walk around at night.” “Don’t bring your valuables with you.”
And it’s not to say that these concerns aren’t valid, travelers need to be careful when they’re on the road! But, honestly, you shouldn’t let your family’s worries or the red flags that may be popping up in your head concern you too much.
I like to think I’ve found a recipe for success that works well for me. It’s been crafted through a lot of trial and error… and I mean A LOT of errors.
However, this approach never fails to create great stories that would make anyone hostel hippie jealous of your adventures.
Follow these four easy steps to have a SAFE, but stellar time on the road.
1. Get lost… No really!
This may not sound all that “street smart,” but trust me!
Before you start your romp around town, have a rough idea of where you want to go, maybe have a map downloaded (Google Maps is GREAT for this), and bring just enough cash on you for your journey’s that day. Being prepared will help you be confident as you hit the streets. Otherwise, let the adventure unravel itself. Creating a strict schedule can cause unnecessary stress when your on the road and to be honest, the best adventures are the ones you don’t plan!
Follow the eclectic sounds you hear around the corner or the intoxicating smells of food down the street. They will always all lead you to something interesting, or unexpected.
Just wander to your heart’s content. And if you want some insider knowledge…
2. Talk to the Locals
The locals know best!
For the most part, locals are more than happy to help you find what you are looking for. In Havana, it was because we talked to friendly Habaneros on the street that we were invited to a ritual celebration of Santeria, or found a hole-in-the-wall salsa club where we danced the night away.
Making connections with the local people makes your experience so much more rewarding, and being open with the locals spreads some positivity through tourism, so bonus points for that too!
3. Be aware, be very very aware
Sometimes, people’s intentions are not always the best.
Know that some people may be out to scam you. After all us travellers are easy targets. Also be very wary of people who approach you, instead of you approaching them, we have fallen victim to common scams this way.
The important thing is to trust your instincts in these types of situations. Always be polite and use common courtesy when declining any offers and if they are persistent, keep calm and carry on your way.
You don’t necessarily have to plug your ears because in some cases people may be genuine in their offers to you. Locals can be interested in travelers just as much as we are interested in them. Remember that if you ever feel uncomfortable, it is time to move on to your next endeavour.
4. Enjoy yourself!
That is the whole reason we travel, isn’t it?
Don’t sweat the details too much. Bumps are guaranteed on this road we call adventure, so just roll with the punches and don’t let yourself sweat the little things!
Allow yourself not only get lost on the streets but get lost in the experience! The unexpected and the surprising is what makes best stories. Those stories will be yours, and yours only!
So don’t be afraid to get out there and explore the unknown. And if there is anything else you need to do to feel more comfortable, then do it! The whole point is that you allow yourself to enjoy your travels!
Do you have any fool proof travel tips that we missed? Leave a comment in the comment box below to share your thoughts and advice!