At Passion Passport, we believe in meaningful travel that will challenge you and your perspective of the world. But we also hope that you covet your safety as you explore foreign countries and cultures because, as much as it pains us to say, not everyone views tourists in the same light. As travelers searching for adventure in remote locations, we must remember to act responsibly if we hope to avoid dangerous, harmful, or even life-threatening situations. There is a fine line between smart travel and adventurous travel, and we want to encourage a balance between the two.

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Embarking on trips abroad means putting our trust and safety into the hands of others. Often these are people who don’t speak the same language as we do or who have completely different beliefs and perspectives. And though that’s what can make travel so invigorating — the chance to venture outside of our comfort zones, make new connections, and find a home away from home — we have to remember that not everyone we meet has our best interests at heart. So as we go searching for unfamiliar experiences that challenge and enlighten us, we need to be mindful of the circumstances we’re putting ourselves in, and ask ourselves a question: is the risk worth the reward? Most of the time, we can answer this with an astounding yes. It’s in these instances where we learn and grow as global citizens, and where we can create our most visceral memories. What we encourage is an understanding that though risk may be looming, we can avoid potential hazards if we’re smart.

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To limit risk and keep ourselves safe, we have to learn how to balance adventurous travel with smart travel. This means knowing how and when to push your limits without putting yourself into unnecessary danger. A good place to start is by checking your country’s list of travel advisories. Depending on its geopolitical relationships and other current affairs, your government will likely have a ranking system of sorts to give you a basic idea of how much caution you should exercise while visiting certain countries. Travelers to some nations will be more prone to problems than others, such as robberies and corrupt law enforcement. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point and not a scare tactic; potential dangers are far from a certainty. So, though you may feel informed already, more insight is never a bad thing to have as a traveler.

When educating yourself on any and all potential dangers, you should also familiarize yourself with the destination’s local history, religious views, and shared values. Understanding the culture and political climate will help you respectfully navigate your surroundings and  eliminate any potential sticky situations. If you’re headed to Istanbul, for instance, act in accordance to their cultural norms. Though it might feel strange at first, remember that you’ve been given the opportunity to enter someone else’s country. Do your best not to abuse that privilege.

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Speaking of others, if you’re traveling with friends, respecting their limits and instincts is essential to ensuring everyone’s safety. Of course you should push one another to try new things, but don’t drag your companions into any situations they’re obviously uncomfortable with. No good can come of that. Not only could it be a sign that your safety is in jeopardy, but traveling can be straining on relationships, so it’s important to keep your cool and be open about where your line is. Though travel buddies can seem stifling at times, they can help you measure whether you’ve pushed your adventure too far. And if you’re by yourself, you can always ask, “What would so and so do?

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Photo by @kympham

Keeping these tactics in mind will hopefully force you to be more patient — an important skill to master as a traveler. When it comes time to make a decision, whether it’s choosing a guided tour or transportation ticket, take your time and weigh your options. This will ensure you’re thinking things through and putting yourself only in the safest of situations. If a stranger appears and offers a last-minute trip to a “secret look-out,” don’t be afraid to pause for a moment and ask yourself if you can trust this person — not just with your money, but with your safety, too. Buying insurance can help in this regard as well. There’s always a chance you’ll find yourself in hot water with an injury or illness, and having thought this step through beforehand can be a life-saver (literally and figuratively).

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Lastly, keep those close to you up-to-date on your whereabouts. There’s a growing conversation around the positive and negative side effects of being constantly plugged in, but keep in mind that loved ones worry. So sending a quick message back home every now again never hurts, especially if you’re heading to an area without WiFi for a while. Plus, if something were to happen, you would want those looking for you to know where you had been last.

When it’s all said and done, travel is a chance to explore cultures and scenery that will have a profound impact on your life. But it’s also a territory that comes with inherent risk. As you get ready for your next adventure, preparing for the worst can go a long way, though hopefully none of us ever have to find out what the worst is.

Interested in more travel tips? Learn how to create a meaningful trip here!

Header image by Mitch Stevens