Tag Archives: Europe

The tourism industry portrays itself as something which bridges barriers between cultures. While this can be true to some extent, the demographics of the modern tourism and travel writing industries have their roots in past western colonialism and the privilege westerners enjoy. White people, especially white men, who are well-off and love to travel have a lot of societal advantages that they may not be aware of. As a white man, I think it is important that we respect other cultures when we travel, and that includes encouraging more diverse groups of peoples’ perspectives in the travel industry. T his blog post is about how privileged travelers can do more to support more inclusive practices in travel writing, and to be aware of their privilege when making decisions about how to act in foreign places.

Travel is a great thing that can break down boundaries between cultures. I have personally learned a huge amount from traveling. But over the course of my time at college, I’ve begun to think more about the privilege I have as a white male from an affluent background.

My first time I gave this thought was when I turned in my first draft of an essay paragraph for my Fall Semester college writing class. My paper had been an introduction, and a description of being the only person of Western European descent on a train in Ukraine, and how exhilaratingly adventurous I felt. My professor, when she was grading my first draft, wrote a note that encouraged me to consider how my viewpoint was a privileged viewpoint, and that my travel writing should acknowledge this at the very lest.

My first reaction was a sigh of exasperation, after all, I felt that my professor had been upset at the fact that I was an avid traveler, and I was honestly kind of offended. I loved a lot of things about being in Ukraine – the architecture, the food, the language, and all that. How could I be somehow offending someone by saying that?

And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized – she had a point. Plenty of people in western countries have to put up with being the only person of their race in a room of people every day. I’ve learned that, for many people of color in western countries, due to historical legacies of racism and intolerance, being the only person of your ethnicity in a room is not an exciting, adventurous thing – it can cause anxiety that some have to deal with every day. White Americans are in a position of privilege where being the only person of their racial background in a room is an “interesting” experience, not a difficult one, and not one that regularly have to put up with in America. The way I wrote could have been more considerate of that.

I find some of the so-called “social justice warriors” at my university to be very extreme. Some are so politically correct that they just don’t think it’s ever ok for white people to write about issues that affect other groups of people at all. Many are less extreme.

But overall, I feel that when it comes to how modern travel writing portrays other cultures and places, there’s a lot that needs to change. A lot of lonely planet books, while they are great for tourists, have a tendency of feature culturally-demeaning cliches (even if well-intended). And despite the rising numbers of tourists from outside the western world, many travel books still feature western perspectives on the country over locals’ modern perspectives. At its best it can be cliche, other times it can be downright orientalist and exoticizing. At the end of the day, travel writing is a business, and many travel guides are in it for the money. But as western travelers, we should be aware that many books cater to our perspective. And we should make more of an effort to bring other travelers’ voices into the mix. Because travel is not just for white people. It shouldn’t be, and we should do more to encourage inclusiveness in backpacker communities.

1) Promote more blogs of people of color and LGBTQA+ travelers in travel media.

The way privileged white westerners experience non-western countries is not the same as how many people of color experience them. Growing up in a privileged background at home can warp your perspective on other places. It doesn’t mean your perspective is less valid, but there are things that marginalized groups of people experience which can teach them about the world through a different lens.

I’m not going to say what those things are, because, as a white person, I don’t know the intricacies of them. It is not my place to guess how people of other backgrounds experience travel. But I know one thing, let’s get real: when you come from a position of societal privilege, there’s bound to be differences in your worldview which affect perspectives and experiences while traveling.

Non-white travelers exist, and their opinions on places should be valued just as much. Despite rising numbers of non-western and non-white travelers, travel media remains largely white-dominated, which is ironic considering that travel can be a great way to bring people together. While white people can never completely relate, we can listen. Representation in travel writing matters. This blogger, on her blog, (Oneika The Traveler) (she is African-American), writes about why it is important that travel media becomes more inclusive of non-white people: http://www.oneikathetraveller.com/lack-black-travel-blogging-travel-media.html

2) Stop using orientalist words like “authentic” and “exotic” to describe non-western cultures.

If you look at a typical travel guide’s introduction description of a western country, you can find a lot of cultural cliches for sure. The laid-back atmosphere of France, the open, diverse geology of the US, all that. The most prominent photos will often be photos of famous sites, or gorgeous landscapes.

When you look at non-western countries travel books, there is a very different tone. Typically, the photos featured are more likely to be of people in traditional clothing, as opposed to in books for western countries where the photos featured are of sights and landscapes in the country. Carelessly, there is liberal, orientalist use of the words “authentic” and “exotic”.

This is a big problem. Travel should be an activity which teaches people about cultural differences and cultural similarities in a balanced manner. It shouldn’t fetishize and hype-up the differences that exist between western and non-western countries, especially when those differences can be a result of decades of colonialism, oppression, and poverty.

3) Write about differences between regions a more well-rounded way

A lot of travel writing that compares different world regions does it in a compartmentalizing, demeaning manner. Europe? Go there for the culture! Africa? Go there for the national parks! When we reduce different regions of the world solely to their roles in fulfilling travelers’ wishes, not only do we look overlooked travel opportunities, but we also reinforce stereotypes that are rooted in colonialism and orientalist.

We need to acknowledge that there is more that a traveler can enjoy in Africa than Safaris, as there is more a traveler to Europe can enjoy than sightseeing. We need to see regions for what they are, beyond just what the tourism industry in those places promotes.

4) Respect the culture when you go abroad!!!!

This should be obvious, but it isn’t to many people. It’s extremely upsetting for me when I see people disrespecting the culture of a non-western country. When I was in Japan, I came across a white american man in the guesthouse I was staying it who would bark basic questions in English (the receptionist didn’t understand well) and wouldn’t even bother to learn “please”, or “What is it?” in Japanese. Learning the language of a country where it is important shouldn’t be a cool bonus thing travelers do. It should be expected .

Also, when I was in Peru, there was one woman on one of my tours who talked about the people in very belittling ways, and kept trying to take photos of indigenous Quechua-speaking children when the families told her they didn’t want to be photographed. She also made lots of tasteless remarks about Inca people believing in evil spirits. It was extremely tasteless to me and to other travelers. It is just not okay.

Another important point: If, when we are abroad, we only notice things that confirm our pre-existing ideas of cultures, we are not being open minded at all. But some travelers do that. And that’s not ok.


The bottom line is that, I think there are things about travel writing which are overdue to change. The world is not static, and travel writing shouldn’t be either.

Below I have some good blog posts with interesting perspectives on travel and privilege:

http://inedibleroots.tumblr.com (blog which takes a critical look at the western-oriented nature of the tourism industry, the commodification of culture, and features writing with perspectives of non-white travelers)

https://feminismandhappiness.tumblr.com/post/56842139860/im-tired-of-seeing-white-people-treating-poor (a post about why traveling is not a cure for racism)

Respect in Developing Countries: 7 Behaviors Travelers Should Avoid

20 Jan

This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I recently got back from traveling around Peru for a month, and as it was my first major trip in a developing country, I’ve taken time to think about the most important tips for being respectful while traveling in developing countries.

I think that in rich countries, people get an image of poor countries as being hopeless places. When positive trends take place in developing countries, the US media doesn’t report on it, unless the supposedly positive trend is that white people are going over to help them. By watching the news footage of whatever tragic event has recently happened in a poor country, or by seeing charity ads with poor, starving African children, you wouldn’t know that extreme poverty has decreased from 30% of the world’s population to 10% of it since 1990. You wouldn’t know that Sub-Saharan Africa has several of the world’s fastest growing economies. You wouldn’t know that literacy rates in developing countries have seen incredible gains in the past 50 years. You may know that many Africans have no access to clean tap water, but you wouldn’t know that more Africans have mobile phone service than have access to clean tap water.

We get such a warped view of developing nations in the media, to the point where even when well-meaning backpackers visit those countries, they are influenced by this, using travel as a chance to confirm their pre-existing biases rather than learn things they may have otherwise not learned.

For example, a person may go to a country in Latin America and have no problems getting around on buses most of the time (as I did). But as soon as they have one experience sitting on a delayed bus with a driver running late, they see it as evidence of the “laid back culture” of Latin America. And so, it makes them feel adventurous, as if it’s an interesting story to tell. But if these same people had more delayed bus rides in the United States, it wouldn’t be about a “laid back culture”. Instead, they’d be complaining about America’s infrastructure problems nonstop, and talking about the failures of the US government to build High Speed Rail and improve the nation’s congestion problem.

When Western tourists visit developing countries, they can contribute to local businesses and help their economies. But they can also give locals a sour impression of westerners, sometimes deservedly so. I think that in developing countries, it’s especially important to respect local norms and respect the people.

And so, this list is of 7 problematic behaviors westerners should avoid in poor countries.

1) Taking photos of local people without permission

This is problematic because it violates the privacy of people, and also turns human beings into “props”, or trophy pictures for your Instagram profile. It’s important to remember that when people take these photos, they often selectively choose the most “exotic” looking people in the most “exotic” places. In Peru, hardly anyone takes photos of the local people in Miraflores, a wealthy suburb of Lima. But many people take pictures, without permission, of rural, traditionally dressed indigenous people in the Sacred Valley region near Cusco. And since that’s the image that many westerners get of Peru, they don’t realize the fact that wealthy suburbs exist in the country too. This contributes to the problems with how developing countries are perceived by westerners. No one ever goes to wealthy places in the US and takes photos of the “strange Americans going to work in their business suits”. So neither should you do that with people in developing countries, unless they really want you to.

2) Making tasteless jokes or remarks

You’d think that travelers who go to developing countries would know better, but unfortunately, many will make tasteless or downright racist remarks or jokes, often to other tourists, about how local people live. On the first trekking tour I did in Peru (in Colca Canyon), there was one woman who kept making offensive jokes and remarks about “primitive native people believing in evil spirits”. This shouldn’t be happening. Traveling should be an experience that teaches people how insignificant we are as individuals in this world of seven billion, and how millions of people are fine living differently than we do. Sadly, some travelers don’t realize this.

3) Choosing tour companies that don’t have ethical business practices

It’s important to research the business practices of companies that offer tours. Make sure tour companies give back to their local communities with the money they make from tourists. Not all of them do. For example, In northern Tanzania, there is a lot of competition among safari companies, and many have unethical business practices. These practices can include racism, a lack of commitment to preserving wildlife, not giving back to locals, and cutting corners with safety.

4) Volunteering to do work that locals could do themselves

In March 2012, The Atlantic magazine published an article called “The White-Savior Industrial Complex” by Teju Cole. See the article here . It talked about how a voluntourism industry has grown massively in the years following the Haiti Earthquake. Many westerners who want to do good in developing nations will pay money for the chance to volunteer in a rural village for a couple of weeks, laying bricks for a local school, taking pictures with the kids, and then going home with a huge ego and idea that they are a hero. It may sound harmless, but it really isn’t. The problem is that in many of these communities, the work tourists do is work that locals could do themselves. When tourists do this work, it contributes to the problematic “white savior” narrative and takes work opportunities away from local people. So unless you have a really specialized skill that no one in the local community has, it’s best to avoid being a “voluntourist”.

5) Ignoring Local Customs and Etiquette

In developed nations like those Western Europe or Japan, American tourists are made fun of for being ignorant and not knowing the local customs. And while it annoys the people who live there and do business there, it is often given a pass. But when you ignore the local customs in a developing country, you are doing more harm, leaving the people with a very sour view of the few Western tourists they get (relative to developed nations), and sometimes leading them to lose faith in the ability for tourism to help their communities. Vang Vieng in Laos is notorious for attracting backpackers who go tubing, party, and trash the place while ignoring local customs. This has really hurt the locals’ relationship with the tourism industry. Just don’t be another neocolonialist. Learn basic etiquette.

6) Eating the same food you could eat back home

This isn’t common among all backpacker circles, but still does happen. There are people who will go to Southeast Asian countries and eat cheeseburgers, pancakes, and pizza, and only eat from touristy restaurants. Sometimes it is because people don’t want to venture outside their comfort zone, but It’s often because of an irrational fear of local food. It’s usually very safe to eat local food as long as you do your research on food safety beforehand, and avoid places where locals aren’t eating.

7) Becoming a pretentious, “enlightened” narcissist after your trip

Look, I’m sure three month trip in South America was great. You learned a lot. You gained a lot of knowledge about the world. But it doesn’t make you superior to your friends back home. It doesn’t give you an excuse to be a pretentious narcissist. Travel shouldn’t just be about you “finding yourself” (whatever that means), it should be about the places you go and what you learn about the world from it. An insecure person becomes an arrogant know-it-all after traveling, who talks about travel when it isn’t wanted. A happy, knowledgable traveler should become more humble after traveling, as they learn more and more that it’s impossible to know everything about the world. Listen to what friends back home say, especially if they’ve had a different travel experience then you. And don’t dismiss those who love to read about other cultures but haven’t traveled much. Travel is a great way to learn about the world, but it isn’t the only way. Travel is a privilege and costs a lot of money too. Many people can’t, no matter how many articles on the internet talk about someone who “visited 100 countries for free” or how “Anyone can travel if they put their mind to it”.

So there you have it. These are seven very problematic behaviors to avoid in developing countries. It’s important to keep these in mind as you travel and plan future travel.

How to write a “you must go to this off-the-beaten-track, authentic country” article.

11 Dec

(NOTE: This is satire. The post uses a fictional country for the purposes of satirizing travel literature)

In Eastern Europe, wedged between Poland, Kalningrad, and Lithuania, is a small country called Slobana. Slobana may not have the top attractions of Rome and Paris, but increasingly, travelers are flocking to this undiscovered gem.

Slobana is a small country with a population of 100,000 people. But its culture is ancient and mysterious and alluring.

Why this country has remained off the tourist radar for so many years is a mystery. Surely, the Western european countries can’t be that much more exciting, right?

The rock of Slobana may be its top attraction. This small stone, slightly brighter than most, encrusted onto a wall on a church is a national symbol and a great source of pride for its people. The people even have a ceremony on christmas where they put a christmas tree in front of it and sing prayers. The origins of this ceremony and the stone itself go back to pagan times but no one knows for sure what it comes from. The rock of Slobana may not be the size of the eiffel tower, but as the 100 backpackers who visit each year tell you, it packs just as much of a punch.

Perhaps the best thing about Slobana is the fact that so few tourists go there. Often, you will be the only english speaker on the bus. You can get off the bus in any town, and the hospitable locals will greet you with respect and show you their hospitality. Bed and breakfasts exist in Slobana, but they are different than other countries’ bed and breakfasts: they are called Kogalogs, and they are more ingrained into the local culture than in neighboring Poland. Some women in the villages even wear traditional dresses to this day. The only other tourists you’ll see are adventurous backpackers. Getting to know the local culture is extremely rewarding.

Next time you plan a trip to Europe, consider Slobana! Don’t just go to the Londons, the Romes, and the Parises! Try something truly authentic and off the beaten track!

Five Recommendations When Doing Travel Research

18 Sep

There’s a lot of potential advice someone could give to someone doing travel research. “Go to place x, Don’t go to play y!” or “Place x is overrated, place y is better”. As travelers, we often think our opinions are right. We often get a confirmation bias from hearing others who had the same thoughts as we did about a certain place to visit, and this reinforces our travel preferences, even if we realize that many other people we talked to had a completely different opinion. I know I’m not the only traveler who has made this mistake. The important thing is to be aware of it and to apply this awareness to research. Here are five things I think travelers should do when doing travel research, in order to get a variety of points of view and form an educated decision on where to go.

1) Talk to lots of other travelers and the locals, but take EVERY person’s recommendations with a grain of salt

Many new travelers look up to experienced travel writers and get only advice from them, and act as if their preferences are supposed to be the same as those of the more experienced traveler. They understand the basics of travel, but assume that because one tourist says a place isn’t worth visiting, that it won’t be worth visiting for them either. I’ve also talked to a lot of people who think that if they meet one local from their destination who says a major sight is overrated, it’s completely unworthy of visiting. By making this assumption after talking to one local person, the person is falsely and offensively assuming that every local has the same preferences, and also assuming that locals should see a country through the same lens as a traveler.

For example, I knew a Russian girl in my High School who told me I shouldn’t go to Russia because of its social and economic problems, and that life in the US was better. She was probably right from her own perspective, but because she’d been raised in Russia, she didn’t see Russia through the same lens a backpacker did. For me, it didn’t make it unworthy as a destination though. St Petersburg and Moscow are two of my favorite cities in the world. If I’d only gotten advice from her though, I may have completely been turned off of visiting Russia.

The bottom line is that everyone should get travel advice from a variety of people, both locals and tourists, no matter what the first people they talk to say

2) Use a variety of online and print sources

Online sources, like in the world of writing academic essays, have advantages for travelers. The articles are more easily kept up-to-date, and there are online communities too, which can have a variety of helpful voices about each destination.

But the good old paper book is in no way outdated for a traveler. A paper book cannot run out of battery, or make you stand out as a wealthy person who can afford the latest technology. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides Books are frequently updated in each edition and a great investment for any traveler.

3) Learn the historical context of the sights you visit

The Eiffel Tower is a beautiful sight in of itself, but before it was built, locals didn’t predict it would be appreciated that way. The historical context of any major sight, from Machu Picchu to the Louvre is fascinating to read about if you have the right attitude. There are many places online where you can read about the history of tourist sights, or you can watch art history Youtube videos on Khan Academy.

Another good use of historical context is to make less immediately spectacular sights more interesting. A small old church in the middle of rural England may not be the Roman Forum, but if you read about why it’s there, the history of it, and the influences on its architecture, it can be made to be almost as interesting.

4) Keep up-to-date

Look at the US or UK state department website, especially if you are going to a poor country. Go on forums frequently. Is there a protest going on? stay away from where it is. Is there an election going on? stay away from the country if it has a history of unstable elections. While the state department travel advisory page has a political agenda, and its descriptions of frequent crime in some countries should be taken with a grain of salt, there’s no doubt that it’s an important resource for at traveler.

5) Keep in mind that even small trivial matters can be different in a foreign country

I remember one time when I got on a city bus in Kyoto, Japan, and became very confused as to why people were piling in at the back of the bus and paying at the exit on their way out. I thought it would just be a city bus that was the same as anywhere else, but I didn’t know what was going on. Being unaware of small differences like that in transportation can really make you stand out as a dumb tourist, and make you more of a target. Bottom line is : if you don’t think you need to research little things, you haven’t done enough research!

How white privilege exists in travel

6 Sep

Race, gender, and ethnic issues are a tricky topic. They enflame internet trolls, they are used by politicians to divide people on issues, and they are issues where even well-intentioned privileged people can give the completely wrong impression to less privileged people.

For a white male traveler, privilege is a difficult thing to confront. We like to think that anyone can travel if they want, and that the world is perfectly open to you, as long as you aren’t hung up on how the US media portrays other nations. We write pretentious blog posts that emphasize how there’s a common humanity in all of us (a major pet peeve of mine), without stopping to think about how our way of life is, to some degree, dependent on our privileges.

Because I am a white traveler, I wanted to write some examples of how white privilege manifests itself in travel:

  • I am more likely to come from a family that can afford travel
  • I can walk around in a western or Eastern European city knowing that people are not going to be violent to me simply because of my race
  • I can go to a country where nonwhites are the majority, knowing that I will be a respected, privileged guest who locals are interested in getting to know
  • My passion for travel is not assumed to be “special and unusual” simply due to my race.
  • My way of speech and accent is considered “proper english”, the standard to which nonwhites’ english speaking ability is measured up to.
  • I can go through the US customs and immigration line without being suspected of being a terrorist

There are countless other examples too. But my point is, white male travelers need to realize that they are privileged, and when they see travelers of other races being treated badly, they need to do something about it and speak out, not just post on Facebook about what happened.

The Far East of Europe: Seven things Travelers love about Visiting Ukraine

17 Aug


Ukraine’s not an easy place to travel, but it’s worth it. My last post was about the unique challenges of traveling in one of Europe’s last tourism frontiers. But why visit if it’s a challenging destination? This post explains some of the joys of visiting Ukraine.

1: Stunning Architecture

Few countries have more interesting architecture than Ukraine. The architecture of Ukraine is stunning, from the wooden cabins of the Carpathians to the grand palaces of Lviv. Ukrainian Architecture has a long history and varies tremendously from region to region. Some is more Russian influenced, and some of it is more Central European influenced.

2: Beautiful Countryside

Ukraine’s small towns are unspoiled, have few tourists, and in some regions have beautiful surroundings. The Carpathian region is the best example. A trek, bike ride or even bus ride through this region will give you a taste of one of the last truly untouched regions of Europe.

3: It’s Cheap!

In a country where youth hostels are $6 a night in the most touristy city, one can expect Ukraine to be cheap. Many people talk about Eastern Europe being “cheap”, but only in Ukraine and east of it is this perception truly still accurate. Coming from Hungary or Slovakia, your money will go much further. You can easily get by on $30 a day.

4: The Fascinating History

Ukraine’s history is long, and filled with influences from within its own culture and from the surrounding countries. It swung back and forth between being influenced by Central European culture and by Russian culture. Today, the country’s multicultural history is evident in its regional differences.

5: The mosaic of Slavic Cultures

Some neighboring countries, such as Poland, are quite homogenous, but Ukraine is a Slavic mosaic. Every region of Ukraine feels different, thanks to the outside influences of neighboring countries as well as the different landscapes and architectural styles. There’s the Russian-dominated East (don’t visit right now!), the Polish-influenced west, the diverse range of cultures in the Carpathians, the classical Ukrainian centre, and the Tatar and Russian-Influenced Crimea (don’t visit right now either!).

6: The Hearty Food

I’ll admit that cuisine from this world region is not my favorite, but it’s definitely quite filling. The food served is meaty, starchy, and somewhat stodgy, but it’s very cheap. Lviv and other major cities are home to Georgian restaurants, whose cuisines are by far superior to Russian and Ukranian cuisines according to most travelers and foodies.

7: The few other tourists

It’s rare now that a former USSR country lacks tourists. Czech Republic? Packed with tourists. Hungary? Packed with tourists. Poland? Also packed with tourists. But Ukraine, like the Caucasus, is yet to be discovered. You’ll sometimes have the museums all to yourself, and there are still restaurants in the Carpathians which have never seen a foreigner.

The Far East of Europe: Seven Challenges of Visiting Ukraine

2 Aug

I’m traveling in Ukraine right now. It’s the edge of Europe, where Central European culture gives way to Slavic, East Eurasian culture. Ukraine is a rewarding place to visit. The history is fascinating, there are few other tourists, and it is extremely cheap. That being said, it presents challenges to the traveler which simply aren’t a big issue in other parts of Eastern Europe. Here is my advice on dealing with seven major challenges that you’ll face when visiting Ukraine.

1: There are dangerous areas in the east and Crimea (but the west is safe)

Eastern Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately, as has Crimea, with the recent attacks from pro Russian forces. It’s not a safe place to visit at the moment, and travelers should stay away. If you visit a city, be sure to avoid any political protests. Lviv is generally the most touristed city, safe and packed with great sights. The carpathian region is also a safe area.

2: Learning to read cyrillic is not a good help, it’s a vital necessity

You can’t get by in Ukraine without learning the cyrillic alphabet. You simply can’t . Signs and menus, even in touristy places, are usually only in cyrillic. Don’t even think about reading a train timetable without knowing how place names are spelt in cyrillic. It isn’t as hard to learn as you think, so just go ahead and memorize it.

3: The Tap Water is not drinkable, and be careful when grocery shopping

The tap water in Ukraine has a nasty chlorine taste and is not drinkable for people whose bodies aren’t used to it. In addition, be aware that the quality of meat and dairy items in grocery stores should be checked before they are bought.

4: Service is inefficient, slow and rude

It’s a fact of life here, the service in Ukraine is ****. The waiters seem very impatient to take your order (and have little tolerance for broken, limited Ukrainian), and yet they aren’t ever impatient to get your food out to you. Sometimes, when you need something, you can’t help but feel that they trying to avoid eye contact with you. Service is a bit better in the tourist areas, but don’t expect much.

5: The language barrier is big and real

People here speak Russian and Ukranian, and not much else. For the most part, only younger people will know more than 2 words of english. It makes sense to, when buying a train ticket, write down the time and number of the train route you want on a piece of paper (with the destination in cyrillic) rather than trying to explain to an impatient train station employee.

6: There is not much of a tourist infrastructure (yet)

Outside of Lviv, there are hardly any hostels. There are a few tour companies that arrange hiking tours of the Carpathian’s, but the signage and mapping of hiking trails in the region is terrible. And a tourist information office that’s actually useful? Good luck finding one. The upside is that few tourists are here, and so it really feels like an old, authentic Eastern European experience. It’s very cheap too.

7: There are scams and thefts

Ukraine may not attract the tourist crowds of Italy or France, but don’t go thinking that there’s no opportunity for scams and thefts. The classic European scams are here. There’s the women asking you to hold their baby, the aggressive fake taxi drivers at airports and train stations, and the pickpockets who try to distract you somehow and take your wallet. Make sure you agree on a price before taking a taxi. If they gesture “just get in, it will be fine”, when you ask about the price, don’t get in!