Is Travelling To Dangerous Countries For Surf Worth It?
This post is close to my heart. I wanted to write this post for others, especially ladies, because I know first hand that this world is simply not as safe as we would like it to be.
The media is a very powerful tool. It is used to frighten us, to control us, and does not always represent a true and full perspective of what is going on in a particular place at a particular time. We have learned to make up stories in our minds about certain places, telling ourselves never to travel there due to our want and our need for safety.
Many spots in the world that host the most amazing waves fall victim to the slaughtering of the media. Those uncrowded point breaks, the empty barreling beaches – often these can be found in areas in which people will write off as dangerous, unstable and corrupt.
Yes, there may be elements of this, however, remember to look at the full picture here.
I have travelled to countries in which my mother would rather me not have. Countries that have experienced civil wars, that are known for gunpoint robberies and police corruption, and I would be lying if I told you that I got away scratch free. This article is not intended to put you off travelling to these countries – it is intended to allow you to enjoy these countries as safely as possible, so that you have the chance to fall in love with them, just as much as I have.
Below are some cautionary tips to follow to decrease the likeliness of something going wrong. Some people may never follow any of these tips and have a smooth trip, however as I mentioned, these are simply guidelines to be followed if you feel necessary, and can actually be applied to many situations, in all countries.
Lock your doors at night
Even if you are sleeping in a room with 1,2,3,10 others – always lock your doors at night. Though most of the time you will be sleeping peacefully without any harm done, the simple act of locking your door can make a huge difference to opportunists lurking through the night. Even if you think that you would wake up if somebody entered, I can tell you now – they may well be armed, and perhaps sleeping through the incident proves safer than not. Locking your door is a one second action, that may prevent thousands of dollars worth of belongings from going missing.
Try and travel with somebody fluent
Obviously this is not always possible, but having the gift of the gab is incredibly helpful, especially if you run into a problem with the police or other authoritarian forces. Let’s just say that last time I was pulled over by the police, my fluent friend managed to save us a heck of a lot of cash. Often in countries where police have their own agendas, barganing becomes an incredibly valuable skill, but this is difficult if all you know how to say is “hello” and “thankyou” in their native language.
Always buy insurance
Bit of a no brainer. If something goes wrong and you don’t have it, you may be paying off the bill for the rest of your life. Fun!
Act confident, even when you are not
If you carry yourself in an open manner of fear and vulnerability, guess what – other people can sense that too, especially criminals who are conditioned to pay attention to these details. If you are feeling uneasy about a situation – listen to yourself, but try and calmly and confidently seek assistance in a way that will not compromise your form.
Trust your inner gut feeling
There is nothing more powerful than the feeling in which your inner gut will provide for you. Wether you are hopping into a taxi, renting a room somewhere, deciding to trust your new travel partner – the inner feelings you get about these situations should not be ignored – they are your conscious compass and are only trying to protect you. If things don’t feel right I would highly recomned honering those feelings. Perhaps nothing would have happened, but these feelings could save your life. Always better to be safe than sorry.
What is the current political situation of the country? Does this country have strict religious social rules you should be following? Is there certain areas of the country to avoid? And on the flip side, where do people recommend? Ask people that have been there, read forums, investigate! Knowing a little versus nothing may be the difference between having a great trip versus becoming stuck in the most ghetto part of town. Take the time to research, and you shall be rewarded.
Rent a car with tinted windows
If you choose to rent a car (ensure you have your international license and insurance) try and rent one that has tinted windows and does not scream “I am a tourist.” Sometimes, when police have their own agendas they will pull you over for no reason, and demand money. If they can not see that you are a tourist – a target – you may have an easier, and less expensive time on the road. (Hint: don’t load your suitcases and boards on the roof either.)
Don’t be a walking store
If you are walking around with jewellery, an iPhone 7, a laptop and a fancy bak pack, guess who will be the target? Make an effort to be modest and try not to put yourself as the centre of attention. Simple as that.
Lastly – Don’t be too scared to enjoy the benefits of the country!
The reason you want to go to these “dangerous” countries is probably to score epic waves, eat great food, enjoy the diverse culture, and have a great time. Remember this. There are bad people where ever you go and in some places you just have to be a little bit more aware of what is going on around you. When travelling to these countries you may well experience the bad, but I am also certain that you will experience the good. Some of the kindest, most generous and warm hearted people can be found in tiny surf towns in off the grid countries. They may take you in and feed you for a week, simply because they are proud of their country and want you to have the best time possible. Those magical waves that you hear about from the mystic magazines – they are real. You just have to be willing to reach out and find them.
Ruby @ The Surf Box