How to Fly Under the Radar when Traveling
A good trip is one in which nothing untoward, dangerous, or harassing happens to you. "Flying under the radar" when traveling simply means that you do your best to avoid attracting unwanted attention and make your experience as smooth and trouble-free as possible. It's all about having the right combination of demeanor, attitude, appearance, and patience. The following steps will help you to "fly under the radar" when traveling.
Think about the potential attention-drawing situations.The major situations where you can attract unwanted attention when traveling on an overseas trip include:
Dress appropriately.It might seem simplistic if you're used to very liberal ways of dressing, but the way in which you dress can take care of a great deal of the possible sources of unwanted attention listed above.
- Avoid wearing clothing without good form and modest coverage.
- Don't wear t-shirts with messages that are insulting, cursing, or suggestive in either words or image.
- Don't wear underwear as your day clothing. Avoid having bra straps or underwear showing.
- Avoid clingy, see-through, revealing clothing, whatever your gender.
- Avoid wearing bling, whether it's real or not.
- Tone down the makeup, keep it as natural as possible.
- Be modest when traveling in places where people cover up certain parts of the body (both genders).
Keep your hair neat and in the normal color range.Brightly colored hair and unusual hairstyles will single you out for special airport and street treatment simply because you don't come across as the "norm". If you can handle this, fine but if the thought of constantly being harassed by authorities or strangers isn't pleasant, consider toning down your usual individual statements when traveling.
Be courteous, cautious and well mannered at all times.When traveling, it's a privilege to be able to traverse other lives and cultures. While your tourist dollars are important, so are your manners and the message you bring from your own country about behavior.
Know what isn't appropriate.The following behaviors will not keep you under the radar - not only will get you noticed but these actions can get you into major trouble as a tourist:
- Loud speaking, especially where speaking loudly is frowned upon or if it's late at night, and especially if you're criticizing the locals or comparing their country unfavorably with your own country.
- Cursing and finger pointing.
- Arguing back when you know you're clearly in the wrong (a special no-no with Customs, police, and other authorities)
- Making jokes about bombsanywhere– accept that security measures are a pain but that they are run by people who take the measures seriously and will have no hesitation in proving so to you.
- Being drunk in unknown places with no friends.
- Refusing to remove shoes, don scarves, etc., at sanctuaries, people's homes, and religious places/places of worship.
Draw only good attention.Smile and be pleasant. Be willing to make friends with new people while balancing this with your concerns about strangers. Some things to help you stay under the radar include:
- Don't reveal intended travel plans or where you are staying to strangers. Ever.
- Don't tell strangers your life story.
- Always know where your gear and valuables are. Use money belts for securing cash when the environment is unsafe.
- Be polite and firm with touts. Just say a simple "no thank you" and smile; break eye contact very quickly. If you need to repeat the same phrase, then do so but don't budge.
Know the local customs.Keeping under the radar is always helped by knowing and respecting local customs. Some of the customs may seem old-fashioned and strange to you but that's your problem because you're not home. Instead, show respect and don't create ripples. Ask for advice and love the learning.
- Remove shoes when asked to do so. Forget the "I get cold feet, I have blisters, ra, ra, ra" responses. They don't mean anything other than disrespect; just do as asked.
- Know how to behave in places of worship. This includes not entering certain sacred places if you have your period (for women), knowing how to approach deities, and wearing certain headwear or other garments to enter.
- Be aware when gift exchange is expected. And know when it is rude to knock back a gift.
Video: How could plane fly under the radar?
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