Summer is coming, which means it’s the perfect time to drag out the swimsuits and escape to somewhere warm. It’s the best weather to tan a little (don’t forget your sunscreen) and put your weary feet up for a well-deserved rest. Maybe you’ve booked your flight already. Maybe you’re in the middle of searching for a hotel. Wait a second, just before you go, make sure you’re aware of these four things.
Whether it’s an organized crime ring or simply a parent who wants to feed their family, scams are abundant everywhere. It’s important not to play the part of the ‘dumb’ tourist because we don’t know where the money is going. There are different types of scams that you need to be aware of. These will all be unique to the country but a few common ones are when an individual greatly overcharges you (such as in Venice, where a restaurant charged tourists £994 for a meal), corrupt police officers (like in Thailand, where the police can give you fake driving fines) or uses children in the hopes of translating your pity into money. More often than not, these scams can be extremely dangerous for those involved and the person that you deal with might simply be a puppet for someone who is way more dangerous. An example of this serious problem is highlighted by the Guardian, in a report on Cambodian orphanages that are exploiting their children for profit.
While it may sound silly, it’s easy to forget that different countries have different laws to that of our homeland. We have our country’s laws so ingrained into us, that many people jump on a plane assuming that those laws will just follow us on the journey. Unfortunately, this was the case when Gigi Gorgeous got detained at Dubai airport for being transgender. She claimed that the five-hour experience was “one of the scariest moments of my entire life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.” Yet, according to Rights in Exile program, the consequences for something that Dubai could consider as ‘homosexual in nature’ are punishable by flogging or hanging. If you’re going to countries such as these, it’s important that you abide by these rules no matter how oppressing they might be.
It is also important to note the different ways that countries have of dealing with tourists versus citizens. For example, in Singapore, only citizens are constitutionally granted full freedom of speech. There’s no denying that it’s still quite a liberal country, but it is still something important to note. If you have an impulse to take a stand against laws that you don’t agree with, please consider it carefully because you’re no longer in your jurisdiction.
The Animal Ethics
Walking down the street of a foreign country and spotting something exotic might make a good photo for the ‘gram. However, it’s important to realize the stress that an innumerable amount of cute animals can be under. The elephants/tigers /lions that frequent many zoos in developing nations are often undernourished and abused. The tiny birds that flit around in cages by the side of the road will often be captured again if they’re ever set free. The dogs that look oh-so-adorable might be someone else’s pet. Even the reptiles lovingly wrapped around their owner’s shoulders can be mistreated (and often are by many of the tourists who use them to take pictures). It might be an amazing story to tell the lads back at home, but killing a dolphin for a cute selfie is never worth the cost.
The Currency Exchange
When Google brings up a value that is comparable to the U.S. dollar (or currency of your choice), it doesn’t tell you very much else. $1 USD might not get you very much in a country like the United Kingdom, but it will go far in a country like Bali. It’s important not to take money at face value as the prices will differ in each place you go to. Make sure that you know how much money you’re spending as it all adds up pretty quickly – especially if we’ve managed to trick ourselves into thinking that everything is cheap enough to be splurging.