Travel Tips

Never underestimate the power of thinking ahead

Paid transportation (any form) - Rickshaw, taxi, shuttle, private driver, camel, gondola, motor boat, ferry, etc.

Enquire about the price before you get in or onto any form of transportation. This sets the parameters, and in a shake-of-the-hand agreement sets the expectations. This is not, of course, fool proof as there are many tricks up opportunists sleeves, such as changing the price upon arrival, and if your luggage is in the trunk of their car you might find yourself bound to give in. Other known tricks include taking a much lengthier direction to run up the meters - so, know the route ahead of time using a smart phone or being familiar with the map and general direction you should be going. 

Good habits:

Snap a photo of the vehicle and identifier (cab number, tag, etc. ) and once in, a photo of the driver and or displayed license. If possible, send these images to someone not in your immediate party as a safety measure should something go awry. More on this below. 

Debit or Credit?  

Regardless of traveling to the local market or abroad, we always advise against using a debit card anywhere if you can help it. Among many reasons your debit card is a direct doorway to your actual cash in the bank. If something ever compromised your card - which is more common than you may suspect - then the problem affects your actual cash in hand. If your credit card (normally not linked directly to your bank account) is compromised, it is the credit card company who is your buffer giving you and them plenty of time to sort out any issues without your personal funds going missing and possibly taking weeks to be replaced. 

Good habits:            

Alert your bank and/or credit-card company you are traveling. This will ensure they do not place a "suspicious" hold on your card when you need it most.

 

Keep your cards in a radio frequency identification (RFID) protective sleeve. An RFID reader uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects, in this card you and your credit card. Your credit card contains electronically stored information and that can be picked up and transmitted just by walking near you. The RFID sleeve practically eliminates the possibility of this happening. 

Home base command. 

Having someone who is not traveling with you act as an overwatch is one of the simplest and best things you can do to stay safe while traveling. This does not negate the possibility of something happening, but it does ensure you have someone watching over you and who will know when something is not right. This person would know your intended schedule and at the very least, have your last known whereabouts. The more you keep them informed, the better off you are. 


                   

Good habits:

               

Have someone you trust know all of your logistics: flights (flight numbers, arrival and departure times, etc), hotel information (which hotel, address, etc. modes of transportation, events you intend on attending.

For example: 

When you get into a taxi or UBER, take a photo of the car, the license, the driver, the permit - anything you can to help identify it and just wisk it off to your base command. They should understand what you are doing. When you arrive at the hotel send your base command 1) a notification that you have arrived and 2) your room number. 

 

Where's the money? 

Having money in more than one location - on your person or while traveling - is usually a smart idea for a few reasons. 1) If you happen to misplace your money, will not have misplaced all of it and 2) opportunists are usually looking for fast cash and do not want to take a lot of time if they have targeted you. Having a some cash give them, to get them on their way, will usually end the encounter with no one getting hurt and you not finding yourself penniless in the moment.  


                   

Good habits:

Have a dummy wallet. A wallet that has one or two expired or canceled credit cards and a little bit of cash. This will be your go-to wallet if you need to give up something quickly. 

 

Keep $20 (or the equivalent in  local currency) in an obscure location such as your sock, a hidden compartment on your belt or other location you will not 1) forget and 2) need immediately. 

Memorize a credit card number and a few phone numbers. This is not as hard as you might think and invaluable in times of need. Memorizing a phone number was not a problem years ago when everyone memorized everyone's phone numbers, but in this day and age we rely so much on our smart phones to maintain all of that information. If you ever lose your phone and need to borrow a stranger's, you'll be happy you remembered a number to call.  

Money for money

One of the first things people do when they arrive in a new country is exchange cash for local currency. Many countries have hawkers - seemingly random people who peddle money for money. Often these truly are just random people who see you (tourist) and try to convince you that their exchange rate is better than the bank. Without going into a dissertation about this profession, suffice it to say that you should just simply go to a bank. Do not take the chance that 1) the hawker is not going to give you the better rate 2) they are not going to rob you in some way to include switch and bait distraction scams or trick-of-the-eye ploys. No matter what happens or what they do, there will never be anything you can do about it, so just go to the bank if you must exchange currency.

Good habits: 

Most countries have automated tellers (ATM) which accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards. We have found that the safest way to get money in new countries is to simply get it from an actual bank ATM as needed for the day(s). The only caveat to this is to ensure it is an ATM actually maintained by a bank institution. This is not fool proof of course as those machines can also be tampered with, but at least you have a bank to back their station with cameras. 

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