I know that I’ve raised the importance of maintaining a low-profile in the past, but every now and then it seems that foreign travelers need to be refreshed on just how important the power of observation and listening can produce.
Let me give you some examples of what I’m referring to: Most criminals select their targets based upon nationality, thinking that country of origin has a lot to do with producing a treasure-trove of valuables:
1. Avoid wearing apparel that identifies you as a foreign national (including company logos and university T-shirts, ball caps and sweatshirts, etc.;
2. Avoid apparel that identifies your nationality;
3. One very easy way of recognizing US citizens from a distance is that young adults from the US almost invariably wear ball caps reversed (with the ball cap bill turned backwards);
4. One technique that I strong recommend to foreigners before their departure abroad, is to have an ample supply of business cards printed with only your name on it…nothing else…so you can jot information down on the card for people you encounter on your travels, particularly if you’re unsure of the bona fides of such persons;
5. Unfortunately, many foreigners wear their citizenship on their sleeves so-to-speak;
6. If you are in an international airport or a foreign country, you can usually pick out certain nationalities based on their mannerisms, language, etc.;
7. These techniques can be learned very easily if you know what to look for: Typically, I find that Americans are by far the loudest and particularly in groups really draw attention to themselves. Just imagine how useful such information is to criminals? Imagine!; and
8. All you have to do is close your eyes and listen. Look for logos and insignia. This same technique can be used effectively to determine the language that others are speaking, where they’re from and what they’re carrying (in terms of valuables).
Give these techniques a try and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn through the techniques of observation and listening.