The best travel experiences push you outside of your comfort zone, to an unknown place where you are a weird-looking stranger with odd habits who seems a bit lost. And you might actually be lost. But whether you’re navigating your way through an unfamiliar airport or trying in vain to find a street with no name, you don’t need to walk around like you haven’t a clue what the hell is going on. Don’t make yourself a target. Learn how to project confidence even when you are riddled with anxiety inside.
– Walk like a man. Head up, shoulders back. Don’t strut or sashay like you might if a hot guy was behind you. Instead, pretend you are Jay Z walking into a party. Whose world is this? It’s yours, so walk like it, even if you don’t know where you’re going. Especially if you don’t know where you’re going.
– Keep pertinent info in a handy place. Arriving on a late-night flight in a strange city? Write the address and phone # of your hotel on a post-it note and keep it in a convenient place, like the outside pocket of your backpack. If you’re digging around in a bag, you’re not paying attention to what’s happening around you.
– Cut down on feminine body language. Unless you’re trying to attract male attention, don’t flip your hair, play with your necklace or smile at strangers. You want to look confident, not available. Save your flirtatious moves for moments when someone special is around.
– Perfect the “don’t-mess-with-me-I’m-a-bitch” face. Walk around smiling outside of America, and people may think you’re an idiot, a easy woman or an easy mark. Wearing a “F-OFF” vibe is crucial when you find yourself in sketchy situations. Try to look serious, slightly pissed off and unamused about life. Use the French for your inspiration.
– Use a digital map. Strolling around with a guidebook or map in a big city makes it obvious that you’re a stranger. Walking around with a smart phone makes you look like everybody else. While you don’t want to whip out your brand new iPhone in a mud village on an island, in some destinations this is a much less obvious move than using a physical map.
– Remember that you don’t have to be nice to everyone. You do not owe anyone in this world your attention, except maybe for your parents. Feel free to ignore anyone who makes you uncomfortable or anyone who is trying to sell you something. Learn the local words for “no thank you” and use them. Sometimes when we travel, it’s all about connecting with fellow human beings. At other times, your safety is more important. Don’t be afraid to know the difference.