When you’re traveling with a guidebook, or maybe even just on a short holiday, you don’t necessarily need to put a lot of trust in strangers. On a more ambiguous trip, however, it’s a very different case.

Stepping off the train (or plane, boat, taxi, horse carriage), you’re immediately accosted for hotel, taxi, tourist offers. Even more so if you’re alone. How do you know who to believe? Who to trust?

It’s easy. Go with your instincts. Trust yourself.

I would almost never take an offer to visit a shopowner’s family restaurant at 10pm alone, but I did in Chefchaouen, Morocco. And it was one of my most delicious meals in Morocco.

In Cairo, a friend of a friend’s recommendation landed me in a bazaar shop with a man everyone seemed to know. I was told repeatedly that I could “trust this man.” But I didn’t.

“Tommy” put on a hard sell for an expensive, multi-day tour of Egypt. There were too many stipulations (“You have to stay in this hotel—I won’t work with you otherwise”) and finally I just paid for what I’d already booked with him (just a single day’s worth of activities & hotel) to be done with him. The cost increased dramatically because of some fees he had neglected to mention (cough..scam..cough), but I was glad to be done with him and take control of my own trip.

A little frazzled from immediately being in a difficult situation (with a man I didn’t trust), I eventually found a new place to stay on my own terms. When my new hostel offered to help plan a tour through Egypt, I was skeptical, but gave him the chance to make his pitch. Even after just a half hour of talking, I could tell that I trusted this man infinitely more than “Tommy” the day before.

Now I’m nearing the end of my big tour along the Nile River and I’m so happy that I trusted my hostel in Cairo. I trusted my instincts. I didn’t take the first offer and I waited until I was in a comfortable situation before agreeing to anything.

In my past two months of travel, one of the greatest things I’ve learned is to only do things I’m comfortable with. If I’m in an uncomfortable situation, I get out of it. If I’m not happy, I figure out the problem and I fix it.

Maybe I’m taking the easy way out by escaping difficulties. (It’s pretty easy to just leave a place when you’re always moving.) But there is enough going on and so little time that it seems ludicrous to not be happy with where I am, who I am, what I’m doing… and then not do anything about it. And that’s why I trust myself today more than I ever have before.

Travels of Adam - It's a blogLooking for a place to stay? I use Agoda.com which has some of the best hotel deals in Europe and Asia. Please note some posts do make me some money but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

 

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  1. It’s very important to listen to your instincts. Always. If you are traveling or not, your instints may even save you from different situations – from embarassing ones to live or death ones.

  2. Adam

    I agree Heather. It's hard to know if it's irrational fear or not, but it's generally a good idea to just do what you want.

  3. I've had my fair share in the first 7 weeks as well between various tweetups and meetups and offers. And everyone once in a while it's hard to figure out if that voice inside is just a little fear of the unknown or really a “listen to me — don't do this”. I've only had one time where my instincts stopped me in my tracks.

    Thanks for sharing Adam :-)

  4. MeganRTW

    I totally get this. You really have to listen to your instincts while you're travelling, and they're usually a pretty good judge of the situation. It can help you go out of your comfort zone, but can also keep you safe.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with removing yourself if things start to feel a little off – that's what is so great about travelling so flexibly. And why torture yourself when you don't have to??

  5. Adam

    You're so right, Megan. It's something that took a little bit of time to learn, but now it all makes total sense.

  6. I think this post underscores what's so amazing about CouchSurfing (as well as other travel encounters) – it asks us to trust people, sight unseen, and yet it works. My trust meter has definitely improved as I've traveled more, and I think that's why I finally decided I was ready to try “surfing” earlier this month.

  7. Adam

    Jessica, Definitely agree about CouchSurfing changing your trust meter. For me, I learned to trust a LOT of complete strangers on Twitter. And it's all worked out wonderfully so far.

    I'm planning on doing CouchSurfing for the first time in the next month. Hope it works out!

  8. Adam

    Yep, I'm with you on that one. Your well-being comes first. At least in a lot of these situations.

  9. I´ve also learned that if I´m feeling slightly uncomfortable I should trust my instincts and not worry if I´ve hurt other people´s feelings. Safety has to come first and I don´t want to regret not listening to my gut.

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