So how safe is it to travel?
For most people, Western Europe and Japan are the easiest and safest places to travel to. The lack of risk involved whets some people’s appetites and bores others to death. However, many countries elsewhere are highly safe to travel to, so long as you always trust your instincts about other people and use common safe.
The first foreign country I had ever traveled to was China. Despite being an economically challenged country, China has low crime rates. Shanghai has the highest crime rates in the country. Shanghai is one of the safest metropolises in the world and once you exit Shanghai to other places in China, it gets even safer and it is extremely unlikely anything terrible would happen to you. In fact, most Chinese people are friendly and hospitable and are happy to help foreigners.
I was terrified of going to Cambodia. I was lucky enough to have traveled with a group and I felt secure being with them. However, it is safe enough to travel to Siem Reap alone. Additionally, a doctor instructed me to bet rabies shots and to take malarial pills. She said the monkeys in the temples bite people and they may have rabies. I was never bitten by monkeys in any of the monkey temples I have visited in Asia and I have never encountered a rabid monkey. I also never used the malarial pills and never met anyone who caught malaria in Southeast Asia. I was also able to use an ATM in Cambodia with no worries or scams.
The biggest crimes to watch out for while traveling is petty theft, a cab driver ripping you off and a hotel ripping you off. It is highly unlikely that some psycho murderer will cross your path at a bar, restaurant, hotel, in a cab, at a bus stop or wherever other tourist place you were at. However, always trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
It is always safer to go alone than to go with people you barely know or do not trust. Other people can get you into situations you never would have gotten yourself into and can put you into compromising situations. Also, you may feel obliged to stay with some obnoxious character out of guilt or because you are stuck with them and can not leave them.
I have met bundles of sketchy people while traveling. I met someone who refused to pay for her plane ticket and tried to get me to pay for hers. If I had gone to Kashgar with her, I could only imagine the other things she would refuse to pay for and would coerce me to pay for. I also remember planning the trip with her, which we never went on together, was a huge pain in the ass. First she said she wanted to go everywhere in China, then she was unwilling to go to any of the places I had marked in my LonelyPlanet. She was unwilling to compromise and fought everything I said. I could imagine her pulling passive-aggressive stunts like not going to places previously agreed upon, whining endlessly that she was sick or unhappy and had to go back, and whatever else. Sociopaths. There are a lot of them out there, and they especially love to travel. How to spot them? They often claim that they travel because they love the people so much, and they say it with a superficial glibness and a phony grin. Also, many sociopaths exclusively go to poor and politically unstable countries because they like the chaos and they like to watch the people there suffer. Even worse, they may claim to be there on a campaign for human rights abroad. It is their cover. Sociopaths are often dare-devils and thrill seekers and will do things that most people would never dream of, like go white-water rafting during monsoon season in Nepal or ride a motorcycle through Mexico to Nicaruaga, with no plans on where to spend the night. Sociopaths also have a way of flocking to sketchy dingy dirty hostels.
I have also met lots of people that just have the dumbest ideas while traveling. They want to skip major tourist attractions like museums and historical monuments and they want to go to crappy dive bars instead of good ones and they think that miserable food stand in a third-world country is “authentic local cuisine”. It is a form of reverse-snobbery and anti-elitist elitism. I have contempt for those who claim that the worst lowest-quality gruel one finds in the poorest saddest countries in the world is authentic, real, local, the way to travel, better than those snobs who only go to nice places.
Some people have an ego while traveling. To these disordered folks, their traveling is an extension of their egos. Every place they were in was more fantastic than the next and they do not have a single complaint about anywhere. They are magnificent flawless people and since the places they have traveled to are an extensions of their inflated egos, every place they were in was magnificent and flawless too. Narcissists. There are a lot of them out there. How to spot them? Ask them to rank their favorite places. They will either gape and stare at you, smirk at you smugly or claim that everywhere they want was incredible, life-changing and the best moment in their lives.
Most places are safe to travel to. Most health advice prior to your trip was misguided and paranoid. Always trust your instincts and always learn a lesson from your past experiences.