With the world becoming more and more of a global village every day, young professionals are opting to go beyond the traditional backpacking-through-Europe-trip in order to travel to more foreign and remote regions of the world.
Not only is traveling heaps of fun, it also enables personal growth and opens one’s mind. In today’s multicultural business sphere, traveling can also become a valuable asset. However, traveling to places with very different cultures to that of the West can lead to several problems if one is not well informed. Mindthis has compiled a helpful list of tips one should remember before embarking on a trip.
1) Always carry some form of identification
It is essential to bring at least one form of identification with you at all times. Also, remember to always have a copy of your passport and visa. This will simplify things when encountering any officials of the country. A lot of countries will also require ID when using a credit card. This is common practice in Argentina for example. Also, in some countries, it is actually illegal for a tourist to not have identification on them. For example, in Brazil visitors must have a photocopy of their passport and visa with them at all times.
2) Respect the authorities
When traveling, remember to respect the authorities at all times. Failing to do so can lead to severe problems since customs and laws are very different in other places of the world. It is also essential to avoid taking pictures of any military personnel since it is often illegal or at the very least severely frowned upon. For example, in both Algeria and Libya, one can get arrested for taking pictures of military personnel. Leave the picture taking of authorities for the next time you visit the guards at Buckingham palace.
3) Leave the vices at home
Most countries of the world have severe penalties for the possession, use, production or trafficking of illegal drugs. Even though it is common knowledge that people still do drugs in most places of the world, it is ill advised to do so while abroad, unless you are of course in the Netherlands. Being foreign does not protect a tourist from facing the same consequences as a local. Visitors can face severe penalties, such as life imprisonment or the death sentence, which is one of the penalties in China. Also, in certain countries like Morocco, porn is illegal. Being arrested for either one of those reasons would definitely put a damper on your trip (and be extremely embarrassing to explain).
4) Dress the part
When traveling, it is important to understand that not all cultures are as liberal in regards to clothing as the West. In major cities, one can get away with dressing less conservatively, but when visiting any small villages and holy sites it is important, especially for women, to have shoulders and knees covered at all times. When traveling to India, a great way to cover one’s shoulders and to blend in is to wear a light Indian scarf as a shawl.
5) Promiscuity can be costly
Some countries frown on public displays of affection, while other countries even go as far as having sexual relations outside of marriage banned. It is illegal to have sexual relations outside of marriage in places like Lybia and Iran. Certain countries also ban any sort of homosexual activity, such as the United Arab Emirates. Make sure to be well-informed on these matters before traveling. Being alienated by a whole culture for simply holding your boyfriend’s hand in public is not ideal.
6) Do your research
In order to maximize a backpacking trip, the key is to do adequate research beforehand in order to avoid any severe problems. Learning about the culture ahead of time will not only help you integrate better, it will also enable you to gain the most from your trip and what the country has to offer. The world is a beautiful mosaic of different cultures and norms; traveling allows us to learn more about the world and even about ourselves. It enables us to experience things outside of our comfort zone. A well-informed traveler is a smart traveler.