09 October 2012

Travelers Beware!

So I was looking through some travel guide at my parents' house, for....somewhere in Europe. Paris? Maybe Paris.
Anyways, there is this big section explaining to Poor American Tourists about the Dangers! Of! Travel!
People will try to STEAL YOUR THINGS!
Buy a special under-your-clothes wallet because pickpockets!


Here's the thing about that.

I've been lucky enough to travel outside of the country quite a bit, and have been to several large cities outside of the United States, including London, Rome, Madrid, Santiago, Johannesburg, etc., I'm obnoxious, etc., etc.

I have also been to several large cities inside the United States, including New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, name drop some more cities because I am a Very Worldly Person, etc. etc.

Are there pickpockets and scamsters and people who hate you because of broad sweeping stereotypes in other countries?

Oh yes, there certainly are.

But I'm pretty sure there are ALSO people who want to steal my stuff and people who hate me because of the way I look inside of this very country.

I mean, there are places that are less safe than the United States, certainly.
When I was staying in Durbin, South Africa, I flatly wasn't allowed to leave the hotel without hotel security, and I couldn't even leave with security if it was after dark.
Hotel security was a large man with an AK-47.

But I didn't feel any more at risk of being robbed blind in front of il duomo in Florence than I did in front of the Washington Monument in D.C.

And in neither place did I feel like I had to stuff my money down my pants because otherwise I might die.

You can't tell me that downtown Paris is a more dangerous place for a lost-looking caucasian woman than downtown Los Angeles because I don't believe you.

I don't tape my driver's license to my belly as a preventative measure when I'm walking through Queens at night.

I refuse to wear my purse around my neck and under my sweater just because I'm on a subway in London instead of a subway here.

I'm forming a group and it's called Citizens Against Looking Stupid. Or maybe Travelers Against Dressing Like Fools.  Or maybe just Hey If You Wouldn't Wear A Fanny Pack Under Your Clothes In Your Home Town Don't Do It Anywhere.