TipsOnTravelingHaving trekked the globe for most of my life, generally alone, often into hostile or war-torn regions, I’ve developed a few helpful survival traveling tips.

First of all, don’t be afraid of doing what you want to do. At least don’t show it. Be confident, look confident. Nothing attracts predators faster than fear. In Egypt, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, I’ve walked where I please. The secret is to not stand out from locals.

Part of being confident is appearance. If the locals are poor and rather shabby, I assume poor and shabby with worn jeans, well-washed shirt, old shoes, unshaven. I never have to bother either with hucksters on the streets selling “souvenirs.”

Don’t look threatening. Blend in. Locals have actually asked me for directions.

Learn at least a few phrases of the local language, the basics of “Where am I?” At times I’ve adopted the “deaf and dumb” policy. I simply point to my ears and my tongue and shrug. Sorry. We then communicate in sign language.

Don’t flash money or other valuables. I sew essentials into the inside leg of my jeans and only retain expendables in my wallet. Nonetheless, in Barcelona a couple of punks picked my pocket. Ha! I’m a runner—and an ex-cop. I chased them down, grabbed the one who had my wallet by the scruff of his neck. After regaining my wallet, all the thieves heard as they fled was my laughter. Must have been embarrassing for them.

A sense of humor helps. I was walking in the Palestinian area of Bethlehem in Israel when three characters on a street corner made a wise-acre comment. I grinned at them and commented, “You guys are terrorists, right?” We then became friends.

Make friends when you can. In Algeria while acting as security for several missionaries to the Saharawi refugee camps, I established a friendship with three young black women who confided in me that they were slaves kidnapped in Nigeria by ISIS and sold to the governors of the refugee camps. They also provided me inside information about the activities of terrorists and slave traders not only in Africa but also throughout the Middle East and even in Europe. There are more slaves in the world today than in the 1860s.

Be bold, confident, but not reckless. The right response to a potentially dangerous situation can be offset by your reaction to it. While motor scootering Haiti, I was stopped on an isolated road by a couple of characters.

“Would you like to buy some ganji?” they asked. Marijuana.

I laughed. “Could I trade you the Brooklyn Bridge for it?”

They took me home with them for lunch.

I needed to get out of El Salvador once when I was war corresponding. The fastest way out at the time was to walk back to Mexico. A man I met in Guatemala warned that it was very dangerous to be walking alone through Guatemala City. It was dark when I arrived. Latin cities are very poor illuminated. I extended a leg of my camera tripod and carried it in the crook of my arm so that my silhouette appeared to be armed with a rifle. The few night predators and scavengers I met ducked down alleys or crossed to the other side of the street to avoid encountering me.

These are a few tips to get you started. The Golden Rule applies everywhere. When possible, treat others as you would be treated yourself, no matter where you travel in the world.

Charles W. Sasser is author of over 60 published books and 3-400 magazine articles. His most recent book is Crushing the Collective.