Travel Tips For Tourists Visiting Foreign Destinations Experiencing Political Upheaval

Travel Tips For Tourists Visiting Foreign Destinations Experiencing Political Upheaval

The world is an unstable place for tourists and it is well worth taking the time to learn some travel tips on how to avoid even the slightest potential for unpleasantness while on vacation. Visitors to foreign destinations can never know for sure just how stable the political environment is going to be. Too many tourists may only think of dangers in foreign countries in the form of a terrorist attack, but such an extreme event is far less likely than unexpectedly finding yourself in the midst of the dangers associated with situations like political uprisings, demonstrations, anti-government revolts and less violent expressions of anti-foreigner feelings by some natives. If you are traveling to just about any country around the world, you need to take some precautions and prepare yourself for how you will deal with unexpected problems.

The travel tip about dealing with political upheaval in foreign countries is one that may seem almost laughably obvious to you, but is actually very often overlooked, especially by novice international tourists.  Understand the political situation inside your tourist destination at the moment of arrival. In some countries, political situations can change faster than Superman inside a phone booth while in other countries political upheaval occurs so often that it almost becomes predictable. You want to be aware of what is happening in the foreign destination you are traveling to during the specific time you will be visiting. Don't let half a century of political stability blind you to the reality that in the world of the 21st century everything can change overnight. 

Another important travel tip for surviving political upheaval abroad is to learn as much of the native language as possible in the time between planning your trip and arriving there. Depending on the length of that time frame, mastering a foreign language is probably unlikely, but even the most rudimentary grasp of foreign words related to government, security, police and safety may all that stands between being safely away from danger and stuck right in the middle with no way out. Americans especially have a tendency to expect that somebody somewhere in a foreign destination will speak perfect English. Learn some basic sentences and words that will help you if you need to get out the country fast. Especially recommended: learning foreign words related to directions, airports, hotels and memorizing the names of streets on which your hotel and airport can be found.

If you are heading to a foreign country where you know the political situation is not stable, one of the most effective of all travel tips is committing to keeping a low profile. Don't draw any attention to the specifics of your nationality if that country is currently on the outs with the populace of your destination.  Act friendly and tip well (though not so extravagantly as to bring undo attention your finances) inside the hotel so that you can perhaps make a connection with a potentially helpful staff should things take a turn for the worst in the streets. You can't necessarily trust the staff, but you should try to get them on your side and generosity and friendliness usually doesn't hurt this effort.

When traveling to a foreign country where Americans have been targeted, the best advice is to head to the store before you go and buy a backpack with the Canadian maple leaf or the British Union Jack on it. Practice speaking with a British or Australian accent just in case you should find yourself in a situation where exposing yourself as an American is pretty obviously a bad idea. Chances are you will never even come close to having to use this travel tip, but since it doesn't hurt to have it in your back pocket, why not spend a few minutes per day trying to mimic your favorite British actor?

In foreign countries where it would take a completely oblivious idiot to not recognize that the political situation is on the brink of exploding, always take a minute or two to carefully check out any danger signals before stepping into a car.  Before using the car for the first time, look beneath it and maybe even snap a few pictures with your cell phone camera so that you know exactly what it should like the next time you use it. Anything that seems out of place should be approached with caution. 

These final travel tips are not intended to provoke unnecessary fear. They will only apply in the rarest and most extreme cases of foreign travel, but they are certainly worth learning.  If you are ever in a situation during your travels when a bomb goes off, turn away from blast as quickly as you can, covering eyes with one arm and your vital organs with the other. Fall down flat on the ground or floor and cover your head with both hands. The shrapnel from a bomb usually flies upward rather the downward so your low position will provide much more security.

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Nazif Ergin  | Editor

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