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Travel Hints And Tips

Merlion - Singapore
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Page Summary
  • Don't flash too much cash
  • Never forget your surroundings
  • Watch out for the kids
  • Watch where you step
  • Don't trust someone you don't know 100%
  • Keep your important things with you
  • Hotel Security
  • Beware of those around you
While traveling it's extra important to have a heightened sense of security. It's easy to go around and act like you do back home but you should always remember you aren't home. The people and environment should always be respected.

Be careful not to show too much cash
The money that you're carrying around might not seem like much money to you but it could be a lot to someone else. I recommend keeping a little bit of cash in one pocket separate from your main money. When you need to pay for something, use this small wad and replenish it as needed. This way when people see your money they won't know how much you're carrying. It might also help in your bargening attempts.

As obvious as it might seem, I have 2 times to mention:

While traveling in the Bahamas and Mexico, my cousin opened his wallet in front of some locals and they didn't even try to hide the fact that they were looking in his wallet. Being on vacation, my cousin had a larger than normal amount of cash and had it all on him. Seeing that much cash made me uncomfortable and this put both of us at risk.

The second example I have is from Macau. For those that might not know, Macau is a country near Hong Kong. There are many casinos there and it's known as "The Asian Las Vegas". I was there with a coworker and we were in a big courtyard next to a large casino. There were plenty of picture opportunites so toursists like us would commonly congregate there. My coworker stopped at an atm and opened his wallet and was looking for his atm card. A guy on a bike came up and blatently looked in his wallet. I stepped between my friend and the local to block his view. The biker moved to the other side of my friend and started looking again. My friend was oblivious to what was happening. I told him, "Put it away, it's time to go". He did as I said and we walked away. As we walked I was watching behind us. After a bit we stopped and lingered and I looked back at the biker. The biker was still watching us at that point but moved on after I looked at him again. My friend had no idea all that went on until I told him.

Grand Lesboa casino

Never forget about your surroundings
While in Hong Kong, I was walking in a tourist area where a lot of people were selling stuff. I was approached by a guy that asked if I needed a watch. There were a lot of these people selling these junky knock offs but I needed a cheap watch that I could use while I was there. I assumed he had a stand nearby so I said yes.

We started walking and he said "it's just over here...". I wasn't worried about following him because there were a lot of people around and he was a small clean cut young guy. We walked pretty fast and chatted as we walked. The next thing I knew I was on an elevator and we stepped off into the back side of an apartment complex. I was wondering what I should do but it happened so fast I found myself in one of the apartments. Right after we walked in a second guy came in and the little guy left. I couldn't believe I let myself get into this situation. I ended up buying a watch and got out of there.

I later found out that the same thing happened to 2 of my coworkers. They were together and they felt as freaked out as I did. I wasn't prepared at the time but now I am. After that instance I once found myself in a similar situation and I just said, "I don't like elevators" and I walked away. The guy looked at me like I was weird but I didn't care. It worked like a champ.

Watch out for the kids
When I was in the service, one of my roommates went to Australia on vacation. He just left the airport and a group of kids ranging 8 to 12 years old surrounded him waving papers in his face. He told them to leave him alone and pushed them away. After a few minutes they left and that's when my friend realized they got his wallet.

Watch where you step
While in Taiwan a friend was in a semiconductor fab. One of the locals removed a floor grate near where my friend was standing. If someone stepped in the hole, he would fall at least 30 feet. My friend saw it but one of the other locals didn't. The local wasn't paying attention and stepped into the hole. Luckliy for the local, my buddy was a big guy and was athletic. My buddy spun around and caught the guy by the shoulders just as his waist passed the floor level. My friend saved his life that day and drank for free that night.

While in mainland China, the same thing happened except my buddy wasn't there to catch the worker. A worker fell through the floor to the next floor down. He landed on some equipment. He might have lived if he was handled properly but he was rushed out by 4 people. The 4 people each grabbed a limb and ran him out of the fab. The company was mad that the worker fell on the equipment, not that he died.

Watch where you step part 2
Some roads overseas have trenches that run along the side of the road that could easily be stepped into. I've seen these in Japan and in the Philippines. Luckily they're not usually very deep because I fell into one once. I wasn't hurt but as you can guess, I needed to hose off my legs.

Slippery when wet
In Taiwan there are some sidewalks made of marble. They get really slick when they're wet. If a similar setup was in the United States, I'm sure there would be lawsuits galore.

Don't trust someone you don't know 100%
While in the Philippines, a taxi driver told us that an unlicensed taxi driver picked up an American at the airport. They stopped at a 7-11 so the American could get a phone card. He left everything in the taxi while he went inside. You can probably guess where this is going, the taxi left. The guy called the police but he never got his stuff back.

Keep your most importatnt stuff with you
While on a tour bus in Malaysia, we stopped at a rest area. One foreigner was late getting back to the bus and we started driving off without him. He was alone so he almost went unnoticed. I don't know if he had his most important items (like his passport) with him but I always keep mine with me in situations like that.

Malaysia rest area

Plan ahead
A friend and I went across the border to Mexico a couple of times. The first time we just took a taxi back from the Mexico side to the U.S. side directly to our hotel. The second time there was a traffic jam coming to the border so had to walk across. When we got to the U.S. side we didn't have our cell phones or the number of a taxi company. We went into a fast food place and asked a worker to call a taxi. She called a relative (not a taxi service) and we got a ride from him. It was a weird situation and could have been dangerous. If we ever did that again, we would either leave our car at the border or bring our cell phones and taxi number.

Hotel security
My father taught me this trick. If you're ever in a hotel that ever worries you, a simple door early warning system can be made using two glass bottles or glasses. You place the bottles on the floor just inside the door. Make it so if the door opens one bottle falls onto the other one. If someone tries to open the door while you're asleep, it should make a pretty loud noise. This will hopefully wake you up and likely scare the person off.

Beware of those around you
My friend and his wife were walking in a not so great area of Las Vegas. Two seedy looking guys came along and one started walking in front of them and one behind. They walked the same speed as my friends for a few blocks. My friend didn't want to worry his wife but he kept looking over his shoulder as they walked. The guy behind them saw my friend was paying attention to his surroundings so he finally quit following. Soon after the guy in back quit, the guy in front also quit walking with them.

Happy travels.