The Importance of Blending In

women - jaisalmer - rajasthan - india, Dunheger Travel Blog

 

Before you set out on your next journey to a strange, distant land, it is important to first do some research about the history and the culture of your destination. It’s natural to want to stand out and make a statement about where you are from, but it is also wise to consider cultural and religious norms of the region before you show up and become immediately singled out as a foreigner. While some places are safe to be yourself, other travel destinations can pose dangerous threats if you don’t know how to blend in when traveling. We all love to travel and understand that risks are taken simply walking out the front door, so don’t let this information deter you from your goals. Simply take into consideration every safety precaution available and make sure that you are an informed traveler. That being said, here are a few things to think about before packing your bags and heading out into the world.

Safety:

Regardless of where you end up, be it bustling European cities or quaint mountain towns of India, looking like a traveler puts a giant X on your back and immediately displays that you are out of your element. It can also be extremely dangerous for those who are looking to rob tourists of their money, possessions and passports. Travelers are a major source of stolen black market goods, and your home country will be less than pleased if your passport ends up in foreign hands.

Women in India, Dunheger Travel Blog
Women in India, Flickr © nevil zaveri

When you are visiting the big cities, try to see what the fashion for that area is so that you don’t look like such an outsider. It will take the target off of you and hopefully deter those who wish you harm. While it is understandable when traveling to places like London to want to exhibit your unique style, make sure to do so with caution and always be aware of your surrounding. Travel with the motto better safe than sorry, it will never fail to point you in the right direction.

Religion:

Before you head to the more rural travel destinations, especially those deeply immersed in religious and cultural ceremony, make sure that you research the strict laws and moral codes that the people abide by. For example, showing up in Egypt wearing a tank top may do more than merit a few unwanted stares, it can actually insight hatred and discontent from the locals, which may or may not pose a serious threat to your well being. Not knowing the customs is never an excuse, especially once you are already there.

Women in chador, Dunheger Travel Blog
Women in chador, Flickr © Cordelia Persen

Showing up ill-informed is not only dangerous, as some regions frown on bare shoulders and ankles, but it carries the possibility of serious harm to yourself and those around you. While this doesn’t mean that you need to don a burqa and cover your face in certain areas, it does mean that you should do a little research and pack with a level of respect for the culture. This will save you a lot of hassle, unwanted glares and will show that you are willing to accept anothers way of life.

Once you begin your travels, you will find that most people are quite open and willing to accept you exactly as you are, but the same doesn’t go for everyone. While traveling should always remain fun and exciting, it never hurts to take careful considerations for your safety and the safety of those with you. Nothing can ruin a great vacation quicker than being robbed and sitting in an embassy waiting to find a way home. And by honoring traditional customs, you will actually find yourself quickly embraced by the locals and given opportunities that would otherwise have been closed to you. Remember to enjoy yourself and take in all the sights, sounds and smells, but also try to blend in so that you aren’t the main attraction that day.