This guest post has been submitted by Esther Lok.
The great thing about adventuring to a new country or city is that you can create a new identity every time! But more importantly, for safety purposes you don’t have to tell the WHOLE truth and can instead reinvent yourself a little bit. Now, I’m not saying go out to left field and say you’re a lawyer with two children working on a case in London when you’re actually just an Anthropology major studying abroad.
There’s a Time and Place
When travelling abroad, especially alone, there is a time and place to make up white lies for your own safety. In Eastern Europe, I quickly found many friends in the hostels. Everyone wants to know, “Where are you from? Who are you with? Where are you going?” It all comes down to, “What’s your story!?” Before jumping the gun and diving into your life story saga over a beer, think about what information is TOO personal to share to a complete stranger.
What to Smudge When It Comes to the Truth!
This is particularly for solo travelers.
1. Don’t talk about how you’re travelling alone! Say you’re meeting a friend the next day. There’s no reason for other people to know you’re alone for your entire expedition’ it can put yourself in a bad situation if that person is someone dangerous!
2. Don’t give too many specifics about your job. With technology these days, it’s incredibly easy to do some detective work and find your entire profile on the internet. Give only what you do, but not the name of the company or business you’re in. Say you’re a business person instead of a saying you’re a Financial Reporter for J.P. Morgan in New York!
3. Don’t give too many specifics about your whereabouts. There is no need for a stranger to know details about what hostel/hotel or sites you’re going to see. It’s appropriate to talk about what sites you have seen or ask questions about sites you want to see, but we don’t want a stalker on our hands to know the exact location to find you next.
4. Don’t act like a know it all. When sharing stories, don’t reveal much knowledge of what you do know. For example, if someone asks for help with the ATM machine or a metro machine, be careful that they’re not trying to scam you! They might ask you to help them and end up taking your pin number or taking your ticket. Not to be rude, but if someone asks for help say you don’t know. Play the clueless card.
It’s All About Safety
Ultimately, use your best judgment and be prepared. Every situation is different. I’m an incredibly optimistic and trusting person, so I have a hard time seeing the worst in people. For our safety, however, white lies don’t hurt when travelling in a foreign place. It’s not to say you can’t share any personal details, just don’t be entirely specific or alter the story a little to not be a target. Enjoy immersing in the culture as a tourist and experiencing life-changing moments with an open mind!
About the Author: Esther Lok is celebrating her one year anniversary of graduating from State University of New York at Geneseo College. Her college experience opened her eyes to diverse culture and to her love for hearing other’s stories. She is currently a teacher in a special education classroom, but wishes to be a journalist and world traveler. She has loved traveling and learning about culture since she was a child. Her dream to travel to Europe came true in the spring of 2014. She also writes a blog about her post graduate adventures at Global Intuition.