In a big city, finding a clueless person is just a matter of counting to three. But the truth is, before you ever make to three, some clueless sap has already bumped into you.
I’ve traveled to many countries and I always wonder how some people even make past childhood.
I imagine that people in the old days, were more observant of their surroundings because they weren’t glued to a smartphone 24/7.
Reliance on tech and a lack of common sense is just asking for trouble.
Anyways, here are some ways to stay street smart that I’ve either picked up from traveling or just observing the world around me.
1) Avoid listening to music while walking the street.
It’s 2018 and I’ve never once listened to blaring headphone music while walking somewhere.
To me, the music of the city is all I need.
Maybe I’m a minority, but I also like to know if a large bus is about smash into me.
- I recently read an article, that in 2011, 1.3 million crashes happened due to cell phones. Today I imagine, that number is much higher.
In fact, it doesn’t matter what statistic you pull up the conclusion is the same: More people are dying because of lack of self-awareness.
As an experiment, watch this video below to test your level of self-awareness:
If you’re not aware of this experiment, then don’t continue reading until you’ve watched the video…
In the book, The Invisible Gorilla, they use the term, “Inattentional blindess” to describe not seeing something in plain view:
Amazingly, roughly half of the subject in our study did not notice the gorilla! Since then the experiment has been repeated many times, under different conditions, with diverse audiences and in multiple countries, but the results are always the same: About half the people fail to see the gorilla…
This error of perception results from a lack of attention to an unexpected object, so it goes by the scientific name “inattentional blindness.”
When people devote their attention to a particular area or aspect of their visual world, they tend not to notice unexpected objects, even when those unexpected object are salient, potentially important, and appear right where they are looking.
Even if you’re fully engaged to your visual environment, you can still be blind to specific details.
Using your eyes and ears, at all times, will keep you ahead of the game. Don’t be like this guy and almost get eaten by a bear:
Stay unplugged and you stand a fighting chance.
2) Talk to the locals.
One of the first things I do is ask a local for general do’s and don’ts.
When I landed in Austria, I was told to avoid a certain subway line and if out late at night, refuse the drug dealers who will hit you up.
In Prague, I didn’t have to talk to a local. As soon as you get on the subway there are obvious signs telling you to look out for pickpockets.
In Maui, we rented an old beat up car. I was told many tourists choose to rent Mustang convertibles and are thus, targets for smash and grabs.
And so on…
If a local is not available I follow my own advice. Say no to everything, and act like you’re going somewhere. Lie to the taxi driver and say you’ve been here thousands of times and just act like you belong.
3) Islands are beautiful and hazardous
Islands with beautiful scenery, all have dark stories to tell. What is common sense to the locals is a death trap for tourists.
More so, if you don’t understand warning signs in English.
Sadly, a man got swept away by a wave when he was taking a picture…
4) Lift Weights.
If you look like you lift, then you’re less of a target. No one wants to go up against somebody that looks like they can out-run and out-gun at a moments notice.
Humans haven’t evolved much. We still assign value to the biggest or fastest looking gorilla’s in the crowd.
You see this iron-clad rule play out in prisons all across the world.
Just because we live in a polite society doesn’t mean others want to play nice with you.
5) Rent and old car
As I said above, renting an old car will make you less of a target for smash and grabs.
It’s funny but when my friend in Maui told me about how tourists will rent these Mustang convertibles I couldn’t help but see them everywhere.
At the gas station I would see people who obviously didn’t even know how to fill these cars up with gas.
This is less of an issue in countries like Korea and Japan. For those countries, they’re safe enough we’re you don’t have to worry about it.
6) Never count your money out in the open
It’s because of this video, that I already have my bills ready before I enter a gas station.
In the video a guy stubbornly pulls out a fat roll of cash and tries to count the right amount to pay for his two little drinks.
A robber casually strolls in, casually grabs the roll of cash, and calmly puts his arm around the victim — All while holding a gun and asking the clerk for more.
Counting a fat roll of cash out in the open is just plain stupid.
7) Use your eyes and connect the dots.
Here’s a thought experiment for you:
You’re driving around as a tourist on an island and you see this beautiful view. You pull over. Naturally, other tourists driving their rental cars pull over as well.
As you get out of your car you notice a crunching sound as you walk across the pavement.
It appears to be a mixture of glass and other bits of rock. It’s about a 10 minute minute walk to the beach and you’re car will be out of sight.
A) Take extra care to lock and hide your valuables .
B) Just casually stroll down to the beach.
The first clue was the bits of glass on the pavement. Anytime you see a pile of glass, what you’re seeing is a recent car window smashed.
If you see bits of glass that aren’t piled up and are less obvious, then you’re still in an area where thieves will smash and grab.
When your car is out of view, it’s also a prime target.
Use your eyes and connect the dots.
8) Read this book on how to stay left of bang
The book, Left of Bang, is one of those books that is required reading. Doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, this book will increase your level of self-awareness.
From the book:
If you were to think about an attack on a timeline, bang is in the middle. Bang is the act. Bang is the IED explosion, the sniper taking a shot, or the beginning of an ambush. Bang is what we want to prevent. Being left of bang means that a person has observed one of the pre-event indicators, one of the warning signs, that must occur earlier ion the timeline for the bang to happen.
Being left of bang means that we can identify the people doing the surveillance or emplacing the IED and prevent an attack from happening by stopping the proves there.
Some common tells the book covers are:
- Eye dilation
- Habitual areas
- Signs of fear
- Acting natural
- Body language tells
This book is great for people who travel to dangerous areas but also practical enough to be used in everyday life.
9) Keep your wallet out of your back pocket
If you’re a guy you should already be carrying your wallet in your front pocket. I made the switch around 10 years ago and never looked back.
At first carrying your wallet in your front pocket will seem awkward, but after doing this for 10 years I don’t even notice it.
When you carry your wallet in your front pocket, you take pressure off your spine when you sit down.
Sitting on a fat wallet all day will give you back problems in the long run.
Not only will it save your back, but you can keep a closer eye on it when you travel.
Thieves know to look for men who carry wallets in their back pocket because it’s out of sight and out of mind.
All it takes is for them to “accidentally” bump into you, while their companion makes the grab.
10) Don’t accept anything
These days, the hustlers are leveling up. Instead of asking if you will take something, they will stick it in your hand, then demand some money.
In a way I respect that type of game, because they’re exercising the rule of reciprocation. If you’ve read Robert Cialdini’s book Influence, then you know it’s one of the 6 rules of persuasion.
- Social Proof
The book gives the playbook the Hare Krishna society uses to great success.
The average American considered the Krishnas weird, to say the least, and was reluctant to provide money to support them. It quickly became clear to the Society that it had a considerable public-relations problem…
The Krishnas resolution was brilliant. They switched to a fund-raising tactic that made it unnecessary for target persons to have positive feelings toward the fund-raisers.
They began to employ a donation-request procedure that engaged the rule for reciprocation, which, as demonstrated by the Ragan study, is strong enough to overcome the factor of dislike for the requester.
What they do is hand you a flower and refuse to accept it. No mater how hard you try to give it back, they will refuse you and claim it’s a gift. It’s only after you give up, will they ask for a donation.
They were so effective at this, the airport had to designate areas where they could solicit.
Nothing is free. The old saying is right: “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”
11) Learn how to throw a punch or palm strike
There many articles on how to throw a punch floating out there on the internet…
Horizontal vs vertical punches. Snapping punches vs pushing punches. Using your body weight. Foot placement, etc.
Bruce Lee said it best:
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
The first punch I ever learned was the vertical punch. It’s easy to pick up and requires the least technique.
Jack Dempsey and Bruce Lee both used the vertical punch, and it’s what I learned.
There’s no reason to not learn both, so if you’re new check videos and articles on horizontal vs vertical punches.
Even if you throw a punch the right way, you still risk breaking your wrist. The human skull is incredibly hard. If an opponent ducks his head and your wrist isn’t clenched before impact, well… good luck fighting with one arm.
It’s for this reason, we were taught palm strikes when I was younger and taking classes on this stuff.
Palm strikes aren’t as sexy as a clenched fist, which is why no one does them. They are still effective and worth learning:
Being street smart is 90% common sense, and 10% details. Books I mentioned above, will help you patch the remaining details most people overlook when they travel.
Even then, life is still gonna hit you hard; The amount you prepare will determine how fast you get back up.
Best of luck,