Seldom can an instance be found where you have a trip to the heart of cultural development abroad and all went fine. An unpleasant trip may haunt you back as a nightmare unless you take certain precautionary measures. One hard reality in a cultural tourist site is you will see a sea of humanity. Tourists, vendors, guides, movie shoot crews, painters and tramps all collected in a sprawling mass with varied intents. And there will be thugs, pickpockets and characters with diabolic designs. A deceptively calm atmosphere may hide a spell of turbulence, theft, a hold up or an event of terrorism at the worst end.
First precautionary step in this direction would be to carry as little cash as possible. Rely on your bank cards. Displaying money, jewelry and other valuables or priceless antiques that you have just bought is not advised. Someone may be stalking you awaiting an opportunity. For field requirement, you certainly need to take out your camera, but the word of caution still holds.
It is safer to move around on a public bus, tramcars or in intercity trains. There are instances of cab driver pulling up at a lonely place and surprise you with his evil intents. Do not be surprised by his team of accomplices mobbing you in a jiffy. After all, the place is new and you are a stranger. You show indications clear enough to set you apart and open to a burglary induced threat. Avoid returning back to hotel late night and try to stay clear of the backstreets and deserted alleys. Same caution rule applies for stopping by indigenous booze joints just out of curiosity.
Have information about the local police station. Try and get the phone contact of the local police station. Else you may repent for not having the police contact in case of any emergency. Avoid making friendship with strangers and giving him your hotel address. You never know his motives until you find it out to your distress when it is too late.
When you are visiting a mela (fair) in India, it is a sort of carnival featuring cultural exhibits including amazing puppet shows, folk dances and wonderful indigenous crafts. You will be tempted by the awesome aromas of local delicacies cooked open under the sun and offered on sale. Seriously enough, observation of hygiene is a big issue. Consumption of those food items may cause a health disorder. You are advised against buying such food.
While on a cultural trip, do not ridicule any public show. They may appear funny to you. They definitely are held with high regards and respect among the locals. You may be inclined towards tasting the wild flavor of the cultural delights of a primitive society. They are scattered all over the world. Santhals and Bhils of India, Dayaks of Borneo and the primitive tribes abounding the Amazon rain forests are just few examples among many. Spending a few days among them would make you susceptible to jungle mosquito bites among other potential hazards. An answer would be to carry mosquito repellants.
In Rome, pickpockets have taken their profession to a level of art! Locally they are called surgeons. Their expertise in getting access to your wallet is neat and precise. So while in Rome out on a cultural tourism, be on guard! Florence probably ranks second for the notoriety of pickpockets and purse snatchers.
Important documents like passport and credit cards to be securely stacked inside a travel pouch and make it a point to hide them beneath clothing. Distribute credit cards between you and your partner co- tourist so that if a disaster strikes one, the other still has it intact under possession for use.
Before departure for your destination, get a photocopy of passport and credit cards. Note down the foreign contact on the card for reporting theft and loss. Another common ploy in Italian heritage sites is someone holding up a board before you with glowing inscriptions on display. This is a deceitful trick to divert your attention and disrupt your alertness. While you are focused on the board, you won’t even know when a kid had tiptoed in stealthily with his focus on your wallet. Just a few seconds and you are done for! Put your concentration on yourself instead of someplace else.
In a nutshell, while on cultural tourism be down to earth and alert. Use common sense and never get swayed by the romantic air that may have gathered around you inspired by the art and amazing monuments surrounding you on all sides.