So just the other day I came across a geography game I was addicted to years ago (and am now once again). In short, you are given the name of a city or place of interest to be found on the accompanying map. These maps are not labeled, and being a rather small window, many of the small islands are hard to see, if they’re even visible. To score points, you must not only click the spot on the map where you think the location is, but must also do so in a limited stretch of time – with greater points for accuracy and speed.
Not only is this a fun test of your current geography skills, but a great way to improve on said skills as well. At times, instead of being given a city name, you’ll be given clues, which adds a whole other element of difficulty. If you wind up holding back a stream of uncomplimentary words while saying to yourself “That’s not fair! I’ve never even heard of that place!” take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Now for the contest. So confident I am in my geographical prowess, that I am willing to send a FREE copy of my eBook You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper to anyone who can beat my Travel IQ record (which is listed once the game is over) of 138. Take a screenshot and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy along with my great admiration.
And if you can’t beat it, take heart in knowing that at least you’re a little more geographically literate than before. Plus, unless you’re really cheap, you can still buy the book at your favorite online retailer.
The world is a crazy, unsafe place. At times I too wish I could just bury myself in a hole in the ground and shut out all the insanity and insecurity. But the inherent problem with holes in the ground – the Grand Canyon not withstanding – is that they usually don’t offer a very good view. For that, it requires the courage to get out there and explore. Below I’ve listed 8 steps on how to travel safely and still maintain relative peace of mind.
1) The World is Just as Crazy Where You Live
Crime, terrorism and natural disasters are not limited to those on vacation. Sadly, such risks are part of the global human experience. This goes for visiting popular tourist attractions and traveling by air just as much as going to and from your job or school. Yes, it is possible something bad might happen while traveling, but statistically it is far more likely that you’ll have a car accident on the way home from the store than experience a terrorist attack while traveling abroad. By gaining some perspective on the risks involved, you can ease your worries and take comfort in knowing that you’re likely not at any greater risk than you are in your own hometown. That is, unless you’re visiting Syria.
2) Be Shrewd, Dude
Taking practical precautions before embarking on your trip can do much to allay anxiety. Travel insurance is an increasingly good idea, not just for its practicality but also for the peace of mind. Thoroughly researching your intended destination can alert you to potential threats or dangers, both health and safety-wise, and buying a money belt or similar products can help lessen your odds of becoming a victim.
3) Here’s Looking At You, Punk
Imagine for a second that you’re a pickpocket or any other variation of street criminal. Would you rather target the oblivious tourist that’s so engrossed in looking at the sights that they don’t even notice you’re there, or the wary tourist with the shifty eyes that are constantly scanning their surroundings? If you didn’t choose the former, then maybe you’re just not cut out for a life of petty crime. Yes, criminals prey on the easiest targets, and nothing says “I see you, punk. Try someone else” better than being aware of those around you and making eye contact. Sure, you might come off as paranoid but at least your message won’t be missed.
4) You’ve Got A Brain. Use It.
What you wear, bring, do and say can all have a direct bearing on your safety. Wearing expensive jewelry in poor cities is an invitation to potential muggers. Flashing costly electronics and camera equipment at inappropriate places and times can have the same effect as well. Even traveling through relatively safe areas and neighborhoods after nightfall may increase your risk, as might talking loudly in your native tongue, as nothing screams “tourist!” more than asking for directions. This is not to say that you should stay in your hotel room and not speak to anyone. Just use your head and the risks will be much lower.
5) If You’ve Got It, Don’t Flaunt It
Standards of dress and conduct vary wildly worldwide and to keep things on the up and up with the local populous, it’s a good idea to learn what they are and then follow them. In many places in Latin America and India for example, women will at times draw unwanted male attention in direct proportion to the amount of skin they show. So ladies, be prepared to cover up if you don’t feel like being stared at by often not-too-subtle men. And don’t get me started on the Italians….
6) Make Friends, Not Mistakes
One of the best things about travel is the possibility of interacting with so many different people. While I heartily encourage all to mingle with the locals, this doesn’t mean drop your guard. Be mindful that some in bars and restaurants frequented by tourists may have their own agenda and be wary about what it is in – and how much – you drink. And sometimes that friendly local that just happens to strike up a conversation with you, will eventually reveal that they want to take you to a “friend’s” shop where you can get bargains unheard of elsewhere. Again, you’ve got a brain, and don’t be afraid to say no. Most of all, don’t let the few bad eggs ruin the joys of cultural exchange.
7) Don’t Forget What Your Mommy Told You
As it turns out, your mom was right about a lot of things. While traveling, many of her adages still hold true if you want to come home safely: Look both ways before crossing the street (especially in London), be careful after dark, don’t walk through the woods by yourself and many more I’m sure. About the only one I would openly contest is the prohibition on going swimming for at least an hour after eating (An hour. A good hour).
8) Face Your Fears & Get Out There
With all the rampant insecurity in today’s society, it may be hard to overcome your fears to get out there and explore. But identifying your fears is a necessary step if you’re to experience peace of mind in travel or anything else. As I said in my 2015 humor/travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, “finding the root of your fears is like giving a prostate exam–uncomfortable even if you do manage to put your finger on it.” But once you do, and you’re willing to challenge yourself, enjoying the world – risks and all – will become a whole lot easier.
Of course, despite taking all these precautions you can still get hit by a bus, but hey, a meteor strike is a possibility as well. My point is that it is impossible to eliminate all risk in this world, so you’ll just have to do your best and relax. By taking practical steps you can lower your risk of danger while traveling, and I say that if you have to accept a level of risk, it might as well be on vacation.
Do you have any safety tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!
Attention all educators, administrators and event planners, as well as people who know, regularly associate with, or are married to educators, administrators and event planners! And while we’re at it, listen up everyone else who follows this blog and is fascinated by travel. As you may already know, for the past few years I have been honing my skills as a professional speaker, regaling my audiences with a wealth of firsthand travel-themed information through my TraVisuals series via Trip Accomplice. Well, I am pleased to announce a re-branding of myself and the nature of the programs I offer. I shall now go by the name of: The Globechatter.
As I foraged my way through the steep learning curve of breaking into public speaking, I quickly discerned that I would need to establish a unique persona – one that would be my ‘hook’, ‘shtick’ or any other terms that mean ‘that which sets me apart’. Since my ‘hook’ is that I’m a world traveler seeking to inspire, educate and entertain through the wonders of world travel, I knew I needed a name that would reflect the global nature of my programs. It would also have to indicate that I am, in fact, a speaker. Hence, globe + chatter = The Globechatter. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
While my original programs were mainly destination pieces showcasing my photographs taken from around the world, it became clear that to be relevant in the speaking industry, it would be necessary to adapt my presentations to the needs of teachers, event planners and the like. So I converted several programs to be applicable for classroom & school assembly settings, and developed my motivational speech Stamp Your Passport: A Traveler’s Road Map for an Awesome Life!, which has quickly become my most popular theme.
Well, I was hoping that you could tell me. I would love some feedback on my new speaking-dedicated site www.theglobechatter.com as well as my demo video below. If you know of anyone who hires speakers and is looking for a unique, engaging and enriching program for their attendees, please pass this link along. In fact, anyone referring me contact information for someone who handles such affairs will receive a FREE copy of my witty travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper. Oh, and you will also earn my undying gratitude.
Thanks everyone for being loyal readers, and wish me the best with my latest endeavor to share the amazing life lessons derived from traveling about the globe. Please leave your comments, suggestions and lamentations below…
Well, another year has passed. Another chance to look back and see what we’ve done with the time available to us. Here at the Trip Accomplice blog, I’ve used that time to produce 32 posts dedicated to locations in 8 countries on four continents, along with quite a bit of information about various travel tips and philosophies. In case you’ve missed anything, here’s a recap of the year’s journeys….
The Book is Here!
For me, the highlight of the year was the release of my witty travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper. If you haven’t yet bought a copy, c’mon already…where else can you tour the world for under five bucks – and have some laughs along the way? It’s available on all major online book retailers. Click here for links.
So what can you expect to see on the Trip Accomplice blog in 2016? Beats me! I have no firm plans for the year to come, and that’s all part of the excitement. But you can be sure that I will continue sharing the wonders of world travel with you, my faithful followers (I mean that in the least cult-leader-like way) in a way to make you marvel and smile. See you next year!
Is there anything you want to see more of in the year ahead? Leave a comment and I’ll be glad to take it under consideration.