We frequently see headlines such as "Canadian tourist mugged in Mexico," on the news thanks to the speed of modern communication.
I don’t know about you, but quite often these stories leave me wondering what other details might not yet be known about these incidents.
I’ve personally witnessed what I would describe as "an extreme level of naiveté" on the part of fellow Canadians while travelling. I’ve probably been guilty of some them myself, especially earlier in my travelling days.
Sometimes we travel in the belief that Canadians are loved worldwide. Sometimes we forget that once we leave our soil, we must abide by the laws of the countries we are visiting. Sometimes we do things we would never consider doing at home. And sometimes we forget that our right to free speech may not be a universally-accepted concept.
Suddenly, something we say or do will catapult us into a potentially dangerous situation.
A few basic principles that you likely already observe here at home could serve you well wherever you travel.
• Safeguard your valuables out of sight. If you wouldn’t flash large dollar bills here, don’t do it abroad. Whenever possible, obtain local currency and familiarize yourself with the banknotes before you need to use them.
• These days you may also want to keep close tabs on your iPhones, since they seem to disappear easily.
• Know where your passport is at all times.
• Let someone know where you are going and approximately when you will return. Even if you are travelling alone, you can probably text someone to ensure that someone knows where you’ve gone. It can be terrifying to find yourself alone in a strange place where you don’t know the language.
• Map your route. Have some idea of your destination. If a taxi driver veers off to an unexpected street, area or district, ask to ensure you are still headed to the correct destination. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
When you’ve done all that there’s one more thing: Make sure to have fun!
Valerie Chatain-White is a community correspondent for Headingley. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.