How to avoid drawing attention to yourself when travelling
When in Rome, do as the Romans do! This expression not only applies to all capital cities around the world, but also to any travel destination. Blending in with the crowd and living in the moment while still being on your guard is possible, and even desirable. Here are a few tips that should help.
Learn as much as you can about your destination
Do some research on your destination before you arrive. It can spare you from many headaches. Take the time to catch up on local news so that you may ensure your safety and security abroad (conflict, strike, protest). The Canadian government’s Travel Advice and Advisories website is a useful reference to consult before and during your trip.
Plan a route before blindly heading out into city streets or exploring a region, and find out which neighbourhoods, areas and establishments you should avoid. Also try to learn more about the local laws and way of life.
Don’t act like a tourist
We can all picture the tourists who stand out, loud and exuberant, unaware of or indifferent to their surroundings. Nobody wants to look that way when travelling, but we can sometimes forget where we are. Be discreet! Travel light. Dress modestly. Don’t carry expensive accessories or wear flashy jewelry. Don’t carry a wad of cash and be careful when you take out your wallet to pay for something: pickpockets are watching!
If you’re an amateur photographer, take your camera out only when necessary or use an anti-theft strap. Make minimal use of enormous telephoto or regular lenses that may draw unwanted attention.
Feel like partying? Know your limits, always monitor how much you’re consuming and make sure you don’t go over the drinking limit. Would-be thieves are always on the prowl and watching for the exact moment tourists are most vulnerable before they strike. Don’t take any illegal drugs. Laws in certain countries are especially strict in this regard.
Where am I?
If you get lost, don’t let it show and remain calm. If you really must ask for directions, let it be known that you’re expected somewhere or ask local authorities for help. Above all, don’t stray from busy or well-lit areas.
Go with the flow
Be open and sociable! Don’t impose your way of life and immerse yourself in local customs. Learn a few words in the local language and be respectful of others. Travel responsibly and support homegrown initiatives. Your experience will be the better for it!
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