Traveling abroad is a fun and incredibly fulfilling pastime. It opens you to the rest of the world, introduces you to things you've never experienced before, and lets you create unforgettable memories with your loved ones. However, while traveling may seem like an "anything goes" type of activity, there are still some important principles of behavior that one should follow in order to ensure that the trip is as trouble-free as possible.
Those who have the luxury to travel should take the following do's and don'ts into consideration. While some of them may seem like basic common sense, it's always good to refresh your knowledge.
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#1 DO your research
While some may avoid reading up on their travel destination in order to create a bigger sense of adventure, it may not always be the best idea to do so. Traveling to a place you've already been to before is one thing, but traveling to a completely new and unfamiliar place can open up a world of problems. Some locations may be notorious for terrible traffic, extreme wet or dry seasons, or even pickpockets who specifically prey on tourists. Know what you're getting yourself into before you go. The more prepared you are to handle certain situations, the better your travel experience will be.
#2 DON'T bring attention to yourself
Tourists are prime targets for petty crimes, especially thievery. Blending in with your environment as much as possible can help prevent bad people from identifying you as a potential mark. Avoid flashing large sums of cash, dressing too showy or wearing giant backpacks. Also, it may be a good idea to keep the selfie stick usage at a minimum. The less attention you bring to yourself, the safer you'll be.
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#3 DO stay safe and aware of your surroundings
Always keep your eyes peeled for suspicious activity. If there's something strange going on nearby, try to relocate to a more comfortable space. If you see crowds forming in a certain area, do your best to avoid joining in. If you notice that the drivers in the area are more aggressive than what you're used to, follow the rhythm of the locals and take extra caution when crossing the street. Doing little things like this can help make sure you're not caught off-guard by something potentially harmful, or even worse, life-threatening.
#4 DON'T ignore the culture and customs
Every destination has its own set of culture and customs which may be different from the ones you're used to. Did you know that tipping in Japan and South Korea can be seen as an insult? Or that businesses close between 1 to 4 p.m. in Italy for a midday siesta? How about the fact that it's the biggest compliment to the locals in China, Thailand, and the Philippines if you finish your entire plate of food? Before heading out, make sure you know the culture and customs of your destination so you can avoid offending the locals unintentionally.
#5 DO immerse yourself
The whole point of traveling is to expose yourself to new things, so you should do just that! Don't be afraid to try new things. As long as you don't feel unsafe, there's no harm in stepping outside of your comfort zone. Order a dish you've never eaten before, learn the local language, or participate in an annual tradition. These are the experiences that count—they're the ones you'll remember for the rest of your life, so make sure you don't miss out on them!
#6 DON'T forget about your passport
Always be mindful of where your passport is. Your passport is your most important travel accessory and it requires your utmost attention and protection. Generally, it's inadvisable to bring your passport with you everywhere you go during your stay at a particular destination, as this may increase your chances of losing it. It may be best to stow it away in the safe in your hotel room or inside a locked suitcase. Of course, when traveling across borders, you will need it handy, so you'll want to carry it with you—just make sure to keep it in a secure, concealed spot.