The virtues of traveling speak for themselves, and yet lots of people do not seem to have a desire to see the world. For instance, it is estimated that only about 46% of Americans have a passport. The United States of America is like a continent in so far as it has so many different climates and several time zones.
You could spend a lifetime just traveling around the US and still feel as if you hadn’t seen everything it has to offer. Its cultural heritage can be gauged in a comparison between cities like Manchester in New Hampshire which betrays America’s colonial history to Los Angeles in California which demonstrates the influence of an entirely different culture.
However, there is still so much of the world to see that staying in just one place, however big and fascinating it may be, can seem rather sheltered. America is a particularly interesting example because it is a country that welcomes the disenfranchised. The Statue of Liberty famously represents the benediction of the US towards ‘your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’
That is exactly what happened, and the beauty of America is that it has historically been populated by people from all over the world. The idea of America does not exist unless it is understood relative to the cultures that created it.
Just like everywhere else, its own identity is formed in the negative sense: each place is exactly what it is because it is not every other place. This is just one reason why traveling the world is so important: it teaches you where you came from.
Of the 54% of Americans who do not have a passport, many may not be able to travel the world because it is quite expensive (to get anywhere apart from Mexico or Canada would reasonably require that the person booked a flight). Another reason that a lot of Americans may not want to travel is that they feel the same anxieties that everybody else does: that they will struggle in a culture so different from their own.
Traveling to a city in another country where you do not know anyone and where you do not speak the language can be quite intimidating, not to mention lonely. It can also sometimes have difficult psychological effects: culture shock is real and it can adversely affect some people.
Many cities in the world have developed a reputation. Rome is the ‘Eternal City’, London is known as the ‘big smoke’, New York is famously the ‘Big Apple’ and Paris is the ‘City of Love’. These sorts of narratives lead people to construct a perception of a place that does not always correspond to reality.
One stark example is this is what’s called the ‘Paris Syndrome’. The Japanese consulate in Paris has a 24-hour a day hotline for Japanese tourists who find that the city is not what they expected. Some people have to be repatriated to Japan in the company of a nurse or doctor because they suffer a psychiatric attack. The cure to Paris Syndrome is to never go back to the city.
However, traveling the world is a joyous experience that opens you up to the vibrant, beautiful and diverse cultures of humanity.
There is no better teacher than life itself and to become a student, you need to see how it is lived by other people. That is not to say though, that it is always safe. If you are thinking of setting off to a distant place and immersing yourself in a culture not your own, you should, but at the same time, you need to make sure that you remain safe.
One potential danger is that you may fall ill while you are away. Since you are abroad, you will no longer enjoy the benefits of the healthcare system of the country where you live. It may be free, as it is in the UK or Australia, or you may have to pay insurance as you do in America, but when you travel, these things do not apply.
That is why it is wise to take out travel insurance. If you do not, you may end up having to pay immense amounts of money for treatments that you may not be able to refuse. This is a point that lots of young people still take rather lightly. In a study conducted last year, it was found that 31% of Millennials did not take out insurance when they last went abroad.
This is dangerous because while there are lots of things that can happen to you wherever you are, there are particular things that can make you ill when you go on holiday. For instance, if you are not used to the water in a foreign country, you can easily find that you have a bad reaction to it.
Finding yourself with an upset stomach is a great way to ruin a trip. These sorts of things are not usually life threatening and will clear up on their own within a few days, but if for instance, you were to trip and sprain or break your ankle, you could soon find yourself in a much more difficult situation.
Without insurance, your only recourse would be to seek a private medical practice which costs a lot of money. You would then not be able to travel on a plane and would, therefore, need to finance a prolonged stay. Some people find that they cannot afford this and have to rely on the kindness of their local embassy to help them return to their country so that they can continue to receive treatment. The simpler and cheaper option is to get insurance before you go.
It is sometimes said that insurance is for pessimists, but when something does go wrong, it becomes clear that it is for realists.
Another difficult thing about traveling to a new place is not knowing exactly where everything is, as you would in your own city. This can be stressful and it is once again better to be prepared yourself. Taking a guide book is a good first step, but most are just compendiums of phone numbers for hotels and the prices of local tourist spots. If you want to get a sense of the place itself, you should consider
If you want to get a sense of the place itself, you should consider city videos for travelers. With smartphones, it is no longer all that difficult finding your way around complicated streets with unpronounceable names, but knowing which places to see is another thing altogether.For that, you need information from people who know the place intimately.
For that, you need information from people who know the place intimately.
A lot of places can now seem rather homogenized. There have been lots of great effects of globalization, but finding that every place you visit is a collection of the same chain stores and restaurants is not one of them. Traveling to Moscow, for instance, to learn about Russian culture only to find a McDonald’s is a great way to be disappointed.
The unfortunate reality is that everywhere has crime and tourists or travelers are more susceptible to it in a lot of cases exactly because they are not as familiar with their surroundings as they could be. From the perspective of a criminal, tourists are great targets because they have money with them, they can more easily be overwhelmed (since they may still be trying to acclimate themselves) and they can not as easily report the crime to the relevant authorities.
This is why pickpocketing, in particular, is so common in parts of the world that attract a lot of tourists. Times Square in New York has a reputation for being dangerous in this regard, as do parts of Soho in London. Good advice for dealing with pickpockets applies wherever you are: do not advertise the fact that you have things that could be stolen. This may be cash or your phone. Prevention is better than the cure is this case too. While money belts may not be fashionable, they are a lot better than losing all your cash.
Another thing that you have to be mindful of is using your credit or debit cards while abroad.
It is certainly convenient but if they are stolen, the money in your account could quickly be gone and proving to your bank that you are not responsible for the purchases while you are abroad is nothing is not difficult. It is also a good idea to only use a card if you are in a place that you trust.
Banks are often safe, as well as major chain stores, but smaller, independent places can sometimes be less scrupulous in protecting their customers’ data. The threat of being mugged is also quite real, and that is why you may want to invest in a decoy wallet or purse. If you include old cards and a $20 bill, you may be able to distract attention from your real cards.
Lastly, you should always keep some money hidden in a place where it is only accessible to you, like in your shoe. If you are the victim of a crime, you will at least not find yourself completely without resources.