Everyone was a beginner at some point, even the most seasoned traveler! Nothing irritates me more than someone condescendingly rolling their eyes at someone who’s obviously a new traveler, or just new to a particular place. Or worse, someone who’s rude enough to shame someone in public because there’s something they just don’t know because no one ever told them. Here is my list of seven travel rules you never know until someone tells you. So I’m here to tell you!
1. Don’t Buy Things from the Kids
I know, they’re adorable. You feel sorry for them. You want to support them. But here’s what you don’t know yet: They could be in school for FREE. Their parents choose to send them to work instead of to school because they know their adorable kids make more money off the tourists than they do. So instead of sending them to school to get an education and get better jobs in the long run, they choose to make their children sell things to tourists so they have more money for the day.
It’s a cycle they will never get out of unless tourists stop buying from children. You might never know it unless someone tells you. So I’m telling you!
2. Don’t Take Photos of the Marketplace Animals
I know, they’re exotic. They’re beautiful. They’re right there! But they are also very likely being mistreated. For instance, that snake charmer likely sewed his snake’s mouth shut so it won’t bite. This also means it can’t eat. In just one day, that snake will die, and it will be replaced with another one the next day—also with it mouth sewn shut. And that monkey? He was never meant to be chained up all day, every day.
If animal mistreatment isn’t enough of a deterrent for you, how about extortion—of you? No matter how stealthy you think you are with your camera or phone, that animal handler will chase you down to make you pay for photographing his animal.
Keep reading: Safety and Avoiding Scams in Morocco
3. Don’t Pick Up Something Someone Dropped
I know, I know. You want to be nice. And let me tell you, no one understands that more than this Southern lady! But it could be a very common scam. Someone drops a piece of jewelry, some cash, a wallet, etc. Then you, the good Samaritan, pick it up and try to get their attention to let them know you found it. They say you stole it from them and call the police.
Sounds unbelievable, but it’s a thing that happens!
More here: Pickpocket Tricks of the Trade
4. Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended
That means don’t even leave it behind to go to the bathroom. And don’t get too comfortable with that new friend you just made. Anyone coud slip something into your drink while you’re gone. You never want to take a sip of your drink and the next thing you know, you wake up and don’t know where you are, or worse. It sounds like overkill, but it happens. Just keep tabs on your beverage, especially at a bar on your travels.
Keep reading: How to Travel Safely
5. Keep Your Purse in Front of You
This is common sense to savvy travelers, but you might not ever know if someone doesn’t tell you! It’s great that you got a cross-body purse for your trip, but don’t get fooled into a false sense of security. Keep it in front of you, not to the side and definitely not on the back of your seat!
6. Don’t Watch Someone Else’s Luggage
I know, you want to be nice! It seems like an easy thing to do. But if you’ve agreed to watch someone’s luggage while they go to the bathroom or anywhere else, you’re responsible for it. You don’t know what’s in there. And you don’t know what someone could have slipped into your luggage after you asked them to watch it while you went to the loo! Just say no, or if that’s too hard, walk away.
More here: Why You should Never Watch Someone’s Luggage
7. You Might Need to BYOL
BYOL: Bring Your Own Linens.
No really, it’s a thing. It shocked me, too! For my solo trip through three countries in Eastern Europe several years ago, I decided to stay in hostels because they were so cheap, and I’d heard such great things about how they’re wonderful places to meet other solo travelers. But no one told me when I was booking that I might need to bring my own towels, sheets, or sleeping bag!
Thank goodness the girl I sat next to on my flight to Europe happened to mention off-hand that some hostels require you to bring your own bedding and towels. I hadn’t packed any! So I ended up taking the thin airline-issue blanket with me, and I ended up needing it.
Pro Tip: ALWAYS look for “linens included” or similar terminology when choosing a hostel! If they don’t indicate that sheets or towels are included, they’re probably not!
Want more tips, hacks, and essential info? Check out my Travel Tips Page!
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