Invest in maps and GPS
If you’re going to be doing some really out of the way traveling through far-flung villages and off-the-grid trekking through the bush, always have a map and a GPS that’s not reliant on cell coverage -- your anytime minutes just don’t work everywhere.
And a personal locator beacon
Our FBI friend highly recommended one, and you don’t need to be a G-Man to qualify; these devices have been available to the general public since the 2003. Do you need PLB if you’re milling about in Prague? No. But headed somewhere that the occasional tsunami is known to hit? Couldn’t hurt.
The Bond-level travel accessory operates by allowing you to transmit an emergency distress signal that communicates with various international military satellites and is monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine your last location, which hopefully won’t be in the ocean, or the atmosphere.
Be mindful of how locals are going to perceive you as a foreigner
While you might be hitchhiking across borders and camping out in fields and busking with a ukulele for toilet paper money, you’re still going to be perceived as a tourist with money to burn because of your accent or the way you look and dress. In plenty of countries, that won’t matter too much, but could be an issue in poorer regions.
“You’re going to get hassled for money,” says Nader Diab, co-founder of travel blog and humanitarian aid group Globe Jumpers (and, full disclosure, a distant cousin of the author). “You buy a bottle of water for $1, the next day the same guy will sell it for a dollar and a half. You can’t judge or get angry. They think because you’re traveling and you come from a foreign place that you have a lot of money. For them it’s survival mode every day, and it’s the same thing in any country where there’s a lot of corruption and poverty.”
Try not to get yourself kidnapped
There are some situations you should avoid if you'd like to live out the rest of your life without ever once having been kidnapped. Nader had been traveling in Burundi for three weeks and felt like he knew the area well enough to travel without his Burundian friend -- big mistake.
"I took a motorbike taxi to the market, and I asked him to drive me to the school first," he said, of the school where he volunteered. "As I went in to grab my stuff, he called up his friends and said 'I'm going with this tourist guy downtown' -- he thought I was going to be exchanging money and I was really lucky that day because the security guy at the school heard him telling his friends to start planning a truck because they were planning on kidnapping me."
Stay vigilant -- only take rides from people you know, stay close to your travel companion -- especially a local who knows his or her way around -- and learn enough of the language to know when you're about to be taken to a place where not even Liam Neeson's skills can save you.
Don’t be ostentatious
Don’t flaunt jewelry or expensive name brands. Don’t flash giant wads of cash. Don’t brag about swimming in your Scrooge McDuck-like vault of gold coins because frankly that’s not even physically possible.
Be mindful of how locals will perceive you even if you know the languages and customs. Even if you’re an expatriate or have family in county, you have to be cognizant of being an outsider, despite the fact that you may look like a local and understand the language.
Whether it's your tattoos or your accent, something about you is going to make you stick out like a tourist in Times Square. So? That means you can’t take all the advice above for granted, thinking you won’t need it. Just because a tourist family from Nebraska speaks English doesn’t mean hustlers in New York City aren’t trying to con them. And if you are a member of a nice tourist family from a Nebraska? Well guess what, you’re armed and ready to take on way more than New York City now.