The trick to packing is to roll your clothes. You can fit more if you roll and not fold. Don’t pack white socks and Nike’s. Unless you want your pockets picked. Yep, that’s what makes you stand out as a tourist; white socks and Nikes.
It was the summer that I was excited about. My friends and I were going to Spain for a month. I met the girls at my summer job that year. We were working at a midtown outdoor restaurant and lounge. Everything was planned; we would visit Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona and we would stay in hostels.
In Madrid we had late night tapas; we dined mostly in the outdoor restaurants for two to three hours, just as everyone else did. No one was ever in a rush to leave and the waitress was never eager to bring the check over. In Valencia we had paella. We also found a decent hotel for a very decent price and indulged over selves in the luxury. It was a nice break from staying in hostels; which were to my surprise, pleasing and extremely affordable.
Our trip ended in Barcelona, where we basked on the beach during the day and danced with the city at night. We were standing in front of a cathedral on our last day; wearing white socks and Nikes. It was a sunny and crowded day. I was being tossed and turned and struggled to find my way through the crowd to reach my friends. When I did reach the girls, I noticed that my friend’s backpack was open. A few moments later we realized that she had been robbed. Her money and driver’s license was gone.
We were told that we stood out as tourists because of our attire. It was an unfortunate experience but we hoped that the culprit made good use of their new found fortune. The experience didn’t frighten us too much or scare us away from traveling. We chucked it up to learning and got better at blending in.
Traveling is just one of my great loves. Not just family vacations and spring break, but visiting other countries, trying new food, and experiencing culture. The pickpocketing experience was a lesson on safer ways to travel. If you pack right, blend in and try not to look like a lost tourist, traveling will be much more rewarding.
Rona, Columbia University, School of General Studies
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