Enjoy your flight, plan your trip and have fun, but also stay aware – there are many things we can forget down-route in a different country, especially when you let your guard down. Most international flight attendants are used to traveling all over the world to cities that might be completely safe or have risks, and most are savvy enough to know a scam when they see one. Here we offer some useful tips for your travels.
Think about the local culture and dress appropriately; for example, Dubai is a very modern and quite forgiving city, but it is a good idea for a woman not to enter a shopping mall in a bikini and see-through kaftan. There are signs on the mall doors to dress properly, it might go completely unnoticed apart from a few stares, but you may also be asked to leave by security. In Saudi Arabia, women should wear an abaya when out and about, and in Riyadh, a shayla (headscarf) is advised. If visiting a mosque, it is advised to cover the knees and shoulders for men, women should wear an abaya, and shoes should be removed to be respectful.
Flight Attendants are aware of their own safety down-route. Photo: American Airlines
Know the area
Do some research in advance, check an online map, and get some advice from the concierge. It is good to be aware of things like an area that is known for pick-pockets or where a woman alone shouldn’t go. If out and about, and you find yourself stuck, security guards and taxi drivers have a minefield of knowledge and are the best people to ask when you are lost. Take your hotel room keycard holder with you as most often the hotel name and address is on there and is useful when someone doesn’t understand you; for example, if the hotel name is also in Arabic, it’s an easy way for a local taxi driver to know where you need to go (just make sure to cover the room number).
Don’t take risks. If there are any signs of threats, head back to your hotel as soon as possible. If you go to a restaurant, make sure that you can see a menu or price list first – some restaurants in popular destinations will not advertise their prices and hike the bill to ridiculous amounts as they know you are not local. In a bar, always make sure to watch your drink as drink spiking still happens. At nighttime, stay in well-lit areas where there are people around.
If you are traveling with other people and plan to go out alone, always tell someone where you are going. Only carry minimal money with you and some form of identification, and don’t wear lots of jewelry or an expensive watch as these are likely to attract attention and put you at risk. Try not to wear anything that shouts ‘tourist’ or that makes you stand out from the crowd as that can make you a target.
Being culturally aware is respectful during your travels. Photo: SriLankan Airlines
Be culturally aware – be aware of their customs and be respectful. If you want to take a photograph of someone, ask them first if it is ok to do so. In some countries, this is offensive. If you visit a church or temple, remember to cover your shoulders and knees and take off your shoes (varies in different cultures) which may also apply to visiting a local’s home. Sometimes gifts are also part of the custom when visiting someone’s home.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Know that there are a lot of people out there who are selling ‘real fake designer goods,’ and these are illegal in most countries. In some countries, taxi drivers may say that their meter is broken and then charge a ridiculous price. Always check for the meter and, if possible, negotiate a price before getting in the taxi.
Stay safe and happy traveling!