When You Arrive
Hotel and Airport Collection
There will always be people (taxi drivers, hotel owners) waiting at the airport, desperate to prey on weary travellers after a long flight. There is also always the distinct possibility that they will not have your best interests at heart. Lots of airports such as Bangkok, have an official taxi rank that you should stick to. I would strongly recommend pre-booking somewhere to stay and pre-arranging to be collected from the airport, particularly for your first few nights. After a long flight, the last thing you will feel like doing is trying to find a decent place to stay. It’s just so much easier to pre-arrange it. Check out your 'bible' for more infomation.
I’ve found it’s a good idea just to chill out in the first few days of a trip abroad, recover from jet lag, adjust to the climate and tune in. Every place has a different vibe and pace. A couple of days drinking coffee, window shopping and people watching soon gets you into the routine of those around you. Taking a few days to relax, speak to other travellers and catch up on your jet lag can be invaluable in the long run as it means you adjust to local ways of doing things, become more aware of the actual price of stuff and are less likely to get scammed.
Try and learn a few words of the language, just hello, please, thank you and no thanks, can go a long way. It shows the locals you want to make an effort and in turn affords you more respect (and less hassle).
One of the best ways to avoid unnecessary hassle from locals is to appear confident (even when you’re really not!) Who would you pick on? The traveller who looks like they know where they are going, or the one holding a guidebook and a map going around in circles?
Be polite to locals, in some countries you will receive attention and be stared at. Whilst this can be interpreted as aggressive, it is often just curiosity and is more appropriate to smile and ignore it than react angrily (which can create unnecessarily trouble). Remember you are the one out of place and in many Asian countries 'losing face' is important. Therefore losing your temper, raising your voice and creating a scene will not gain you respect or assistance.
Don’t automatically trust the police. In many countries they are corrupt and it’s not unheard of to have to pay/bribe police in order to get the police report required to claim on an insurance policy if you have stuff stolen. See above. Be calm, polite and show respect. They can make your life very awkward very easily, so think before you make a scene.
Make sure that whenever you change money, or visit the ATM you do it very carefully and are aware of who has seen you do it. It is the first place scam artists will visit and so you could be a prime target for theft if people know you are walking around with large sums of money on you. Split the money up on your person.
Naomi Cartwright Jan 2009 (Cont)
Part 1 - Preparations
Part 2 - Before You Go
Part 3 - What To Take
Part 4 - Packing
Part 6 - Safety Overseas