Nearly two years ago, American traveler Cassie De Pecol completed her attempt to visit every country in the world in record-breaking time. In just 18 months and 26 days, she set foot on the world’s 196 sovereign nations with varying degrees of “welcomes” greeting her. Starting July 2015 and ending February 2017, her goal was to promote sustainable tourism as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism.
While her globetrotting endeavor was met with mixed response, she has no regrets about taking the trip, which she planned years in advance to minimize issues as much as possible. To offset the carbon emissions of her worldwide odyssey, she started with planting 150 trees, each representing a sovereign nation she arrived on. She has even shared plans to visit Antarctica, which while not a country, allows her to set foot on every major continent on earth, bringing the world traveler in her full circle.
Even for the homebodies out there, the fact is that we were born to travel. From conception, nature designed us with two legs and matching feet to get us where we want (or need) to go. And through a series of bumps, falls and missteps, we learned to travel farther distances.
Then came animals carrying people or pulling carts and chariots, followed by mechanical wonders with hulls, wheels and wings. And each advancement in travel brought us shrank our world, so much so that living and working internationally has become an accepted norm of our society. Along with these advances, good from all over the world have gained greater access to you and your home thanks to these developments.
Quinoa from Peru. Coconuts from the Philippines. Dates from Qatar. Cassava from the Congo.
The brave journeys of those who dared to go where no one had before caused global trade to flourish and for cultures to meet and mingle in the process.
But each advance in travel since then has also brought its own set of challenges, and the simple act of getting from Point A to Point B is no longer always that straightforward. Factors such as environmental conditions, ongoing conflicts, mismanagement or even rampant poverty have caused commuting and public transportation in some places to become inconvenient at best and life-threatening at worst.
We’ve heard and/or shared many horror stories of how simple vacations or even regular commutes have quickly gone awry, which can easily trigger one’s terrified brain to plant their feet on the spot or keep them in that nice warm bed. As even the most advanced forms of travel to date can experience delays and failures, being prepared is indeed the way to go.
With that in mind, here’s some tips to help ensure that getting around wherever you may be can still be safe and enjoyable:
- Do your research. The G.I. Joe cartoons of the 1980s often closed with public safety messages, with the gallant hero of the episode quipping, “And knowing is half the battle”. Learn as much as you can about where you’re going and how to get there. Especially when traveling internationally, cultural differences can make what you consider friendly gestures potentially dangerous for other properly. Keeping a translation book handy can also help you communicate with locals if they don’t speak your language.
- Take only what you need. Packing light can make all the difference between a pleasurable trip and a hellish one. Who wants to lug around two or more bags during a long walk? Also, overpacking can make it difficult for you to get anything you need, especially if your items aren’t packed in order. If you can leave any unnecessary items locked up or in a safe place, much better.
- Stay alert. The sad fact is that bad people do exist in the world, and it isn’t always possible to totally avoid them. That being said, keep an eye on people and your surroundings. And when drinking alcohol, keep a tab on how much you’re drinking so that you can still keep track of what’s going on around you.
- Get sturdy appropriate luggage for your items. Since travel often requires you to take things along, you’ll want to get the right bag(s) for your plans. Trolley bags are great if your bringing plenty of items, while backpacks are better for carrying smaller loads. And of course, make sure you can handle them comfortably.
- Avoid detours and segues to unfamiliar areas. Stick to your itinerary as much as possible, as these routes place you in familiar and well-traveled areas where you’re less likely to be exposed to potential dangers such as criminal activity.
- Make sure to have enough money… Everywhere. Having sufficient money is important especially when getting about your business. And what if you need a quick meal, a drink or medical assistance? And as a safety precaution, place only some of your money in your wallet, while leaving extra in other places in case it gets lost or stolen. And spending extra on your own safety is always worth it.
- Keep in touch with loved ones during travel. This will help them keep track of where you are and assure that you have a line of help in case there are problems. Have emergency contacts on your phone and written down on paper (in case your phone dies).
- Trust your gut. If you feel you’re being followed or otherwise unsafe, contact the local authorities for help.
And wherever your feet may take you, eyes may see or ears may hear, iit helps to take in the sights and have a positive attitude toward the adventure you’ve embarked on. Because whether for business or pleasure, both the journey and destination can teach you so much and open your eyes to what the world has to offer. Life is indeed too short to waste on being stagnant and unmoving, especially when the globe has shrunk to the point that we’re all within a day’s reach of each other.