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I often talk to people, especially those who travel often or live abroad, about the research they conducted before making the decision to visit or relocate. The number one complaint everyone has is that very few people are willing to talk about the bad and the ugly. This is a valid point. In their defense, people who travel and/or relocate tend to be the optimistic sort and those who would share their experiences usually share their experiences because they are so positive. It’s hard to share the negative when you don’t see the negative. That being said, I’m going to see if I can tackle the subject.
Don't Drink the Water
When you travel this is the most often given piece of advice to travelers, and it is also the one that is unavoidable. It doesn’t make a difference if you avoid drinking a glass of water if you later take an unfiltered shower. Your skin is going absorb the water and bacteria anyway, and you’ll find yourself sick. It’s not so much that the water is bad, it’s just that your body is not used to the bacteria in the country you’re visiting and may require a few days for adjustment. This means it’s probably not a good idea to take a one-week trip overseas and try to live like the locals. You’re probably going to lose a few days just trying to get adjusted.
Don't Travel Alone
So this is my number one advice to anyone. I don’t ever recommend going alone under any circumstances, however, depending on your travel companion(s), this can honestly turn your trip into a nightmare. I’ve traveled with my parents who don’t get their day started before noon. I usually watch the sunrise, and when I go on a trip, I’ve done a lot of research. I have a whole itinerary laid out: I’ve checked out my route on the map, I figured out whether I want to take a taxi or bus and I’m ready to spend sun up to sundown exploring. The one and the only trip that I took with my parents as an adult was the clash of viewpoints. They go on vacation to relax; I go on holiday to explore. Now we send each other pictures of our travels. Sometimes you might decide to join a travel group, and it can go one of two ways, either you click with the other members of the group, and you have the best time of your life, or you hate your group and can’t wait for the trip to be over. If you fall into the latter group, the trip can be an expensive nightmare.
No Seat Belts
I can honestly say that this is my biggest pet peeve when traveling and/or living overseas. For the most part, taxi drivers in Latin America simply do not use seat belts, as a matter of fact, they will pull out the seat belts from the back of the vehicle. So while I travel with a booster seat for my youngest one, there’s no point because I can’t strap him in. When I’m driving, I will also notice other drivers will have children in the front seat and sometimes even behind the wheel when they’re driving. My fear is that even though their seat belt in my vehicle and I always wear my seat belt and insist that everyone traveling with me wear their seat belt, as well. If they were ever an accident, the people in the other car would be hurt, and I would have to live with that responsibility.
You Don't Know the Rules
It is, unfortunately, easy to break the law when you travel overseas because you don’t know what the law is. Do you remember the kid in Singapore who got lashes for painting graffiti? Or the kid who was charged for spitting out his gum? Traveling between countries across their borders? Get ready for different rules from one side of the border to another. Some countries require proof you will be leaving their country, i.e. a return ticket to your country and evidence of income to verify you can afford your stay, i.e. a bank statement or ATM receipt. Some countries will not let you cross the border with a rental car… and you won’t know until you try to pass. Not knowing the rules can leave you stuck or worse and finding a reliable source of information online is rather challenging.
So I don’t want to scare you or depress you, traveling is awesome! And guess what? I have solutions.
Water Doesn't Have to Be a Big Deal
The water does not have to be a big deal. If you’ve read my other posts you know I have talked about putting activated charcoal in your drinking water. What I didn’t mention is there is activated charcoal soap. Adding activated charcoal soap to your traveling kit and drinking water with activated charcoal after your shower should help stave off those stomach bugs. You can also try traveling with a shower filter or water purifier.
I Don't Travel Without Activated Charcoal
Solutions for the Rest
Depending on your traveling companions you can choose how you travel. While I won’t travel cross-country with my parents, I have offered to go on a cruise with them. That way everybody wins; I get up early and take advantage of excursions while they get up late and lounge on the pool deck. There are always lots of opportunities to mix traveling habits successfully if you put in a little effort.
With the seat belts, there is not a whole lot you can do, but there are some options because some cars will have seat belts. If you are traveling to a hotel, they usually have vans with seat belts, and you can request airport service. Depending on where you go, there are tour and travel companies that will also pick you up from the airport and drive you around. You can request a vehicle with a seat belt as well. For those who are driving, be extra careful, drive two cars behind the car in front of you and under the speed limit (not too much under as that can cause problems, too). Don’t drive in the rain, unless you have been in the country for years unfamiliarity with the roads tends to lead to accidents and avoid driving at night as much as possible. An abundance of caution should keep you safe.
Not knowing the rules is no defense in several countries. Fortunately, you have options. Always have the number and location of your Embassy in hand. You can get travel insurance from tripinsurance.com and take advantage of their service which includes legal representation. As part of the legal representation, they use the services of a gentleman by the name of Dick Atkins ([email protected]) who has been named “the Houdini of fast escapes from international prisons” by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, as a result of his success winning freedom for over 1000 Americans being held in foreign custody. You can contact Dick directly if you find yourself in a legal quandary and work out payment arrangements with him as well.
So there you have it, the bad and the ugly of travel – with just a little preparation it doesn't have to be bad or ugly at all. :-)