30 Ways in 30 Days

30 Ways in 30 Days – Day Nineteen: Food Poisoning

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You can consider this section a follow-up of the last, where I talked about street food and foreign bacteria. Chances are that at some point, regardless of how iron-clad your stomach is, you will meet your match in a foreign country somewhere. And while some stomach aches are nothing more than your stomach adjusting to a new bacteria or type of food, true food poisoning happens to us all at one time or another. Dealing with it in another country can be quite the experience for the uninitiated.

The first thing to remember is that food poisoning is rarely fatal, but if you are in a panic over things remember that all major cities in developed and developing countries around the world have comparable healthcare systems and levels of service. Which means if you absolutely have to worry about it there is medical care no matter where you travel. With that being said, it’s still better to not get it at all. However, when and if you do there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, you need to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Pay attention to where you are living because some cities have water that isn’t potable, which means you will need to have plenty of bottled water on hand. The water in Bogota, for example, is drinkable, as-is that of Sofia, but the water in Cancun is very strictly non-potable water due to its high mineral content. While not necessarily harmful, it does cause problems with some people’s stomachs and over time can cake your teeth with calcium and other mineral buildup, so it’s better to stick to bottled water to be on the safe side. This is doubly true if you are suffering from some form of food poisoning.

Locate the root cause and find out if it’s just you suffering an allergic reaction or actual food poisoning that is affecting more than just you. If no one else in your party is having a reaction to the same salad and shrimp cocktails you had a couple hours earlier, chances are you don’t have food poisoning but instead are simply having an allergic reaction to a particular type of food or bacteria. There’s no reason to go into a panic over something that doesn’t exist.

Understand that if it is food poisoning and more people aside from you are sick you need to stock up on electrolytes and liquids and prepare to wait it out, because that’s the only thing you can do with food poisoning. You can’t cure it and you can’t really make it feel any better. You just have to wait for your body to do what it does naturally and flush the toxins out of your system. And the best way to do that is by consuming as much liquid as you can to help flush the various filters in your body and get you feeling back to normal again, as well as taking plenty of vitamins and minerals to replaced those flushed out during your body’s purging.

Don’t be afraid to ask the local healers and apothecaries if they know of anything local that might help with flushing your system. Various teas and herbs can be used in numerous ways by people such as the Mayans to cure a variety of ailments and help speed along the healing process. I myself use MMS (miracle mineral solution or as Jim Humble calls it, the master mineral solution) as a means of dealing with bacteria when I’m adjusting to a new area, and as a means of warding off food poisoning, although it’s not the only thing I use. I also eat a fairly healthy diet (I follow the Mediterranean Diet and have since January of 2008) and have plenty of natural cures on hand for when and if I do stumbled across something.

Apart from doing what you can to ensure you are eating quality food you are really at the mercy of fate if you get food poisoning. While there are some precautions you can take, not everyone is affected the same way. And as I stated elsewhere, I’ve had food poisoning three times in my life, and all three times it was in the United States, yet I’ve been eating street food for a dozen years in countries around the world. And believe me, I’ve eaten in less than prime conditions on occasion (a necessity when you are out in the middle of the jungle or countryside for a prolonged period of time where it’s your only option) and been none the worse for it. While not necessarily proof, I use myself as an example that you can’t live in fear of the food you eat no matter where in the world you choose to make your home. Our bodies are extremely adaptive and regenerative when cared for properly and can fend off most harmful bacterias without you even being aware of what’s going on.

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30 Ways in 30 Days – Day Eighteen: Street Food and You

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Everyone has heard of Montezuma’s Revenge and the Delhi Belly. But there’s a common misconception that going to a foreign destination automatically means food poisoning, but here’s a little fact for you: in 12 years of traveling I’ve eaten street food at a wide variety of places in countries around the world, and I’ve only had food poisoning three times. All three times were in the United States at sit-down establishments.

Here’s the thing: once you settle on the ground living like a local in your chosen city you are going to quickly establish your favorite street food vendors. Why? Because it’s a source of cheap, damn tasty food that is part of the culture. And while there are some downsides to eating street food as long as you play it safe you won’t have any issues regardless of where you are living. Believe me, you don’t want to pass up street food because it is the only way you find the true nature of things like sopes, arepas, banitza and beyond. These are the finger-licking good delicacies that serve as fast food in countries around the world.

There’s a few things to look for in a street vendor to determine if they are reasonably safe or not. If the veggies look fresh, they probably are, in which case the bought and cut them that morning. Even better is if you like to get out and walk in the mornings you can see which vendors are setting up in the mornings and how they prepare their setup. Professionals exist in all corners of the world and some of these street vendors are professionals. This is their living and they do it well. You just have to know what to look for. Hand in hand with this is vendors who take the time to use disinfectant on their veggies while cleaning them. A little harder to find, but still possible.

While fresh produce is important, it is equally important that the meat is fresh that morning and not re-used from a day previously. I’ve only came across a handful of street vendors in my time who do this, as most either use up all their meat in a day or they have a little extra that gets parceled out as dinner for whoever is working the night shift. Even so, it’s always worth it to check in the morning to ensure the meat they are using is fresh.

Covered condiments is probably the most important aspect of a good street vendor. Any type of food or condiment can last a day in the elements, no matter how hot or cold it is, and as long as things are kept in a covered or sealed container they are completely safe within that 24 hour period. The ones you want to watch out for are the street vendors who have an uncovered or unsealed container, such as with a potato salad or a yogurt dressing. If it’s open and uncovered it has a chance to collect some fairly unfriendly passengers.

And lastly but not least is the hygiene of the individual or the operation. Professional-level street vendors will be wearing hair nets, masks and plastic gloves, while some people might just be wearing a pair of gloves. Your own personal level of comfort will determine which vendor you go with, but at the very least look for places where the people wear gloves. For example, there was a place in Bogota I loved that served up roasted chickens and they always wore gloves and handed out plastic gloves to the clients as well for eating their chicken. On the other hand, I’ve been out in the jungle and seen people making quesadillas for customers while they were eating with the same hands, and not washing in between or wearing gloves. You can tell within an instant if a place is professional or not by the way they approach hygiene.

And one final note. Remember that food poisoning is not always about the food itself. Bacteria also plays an important role. Sometimes the food can be completely sanitary, everything can look just perfect and you will eat something and wind up getting sick because your stomach isn’t used to the bacteria for this particular section of the world. Which is a normal thing and only takes a little bit of time to adjust to once you have settled in to live like a local. Just remember that even Superman has his kryptonite, and not all of our stomachs are created equal.

If the place is a little run-down, a little dirty or a little off-the-beaten path, I’m all for it, because these are generally the places the locals are going most of the time. They are well-traveled hot-spots on the way between work and home, and if the food is good enough for the people who live there it’s good enough for you. These are the cultural dishes that don’t make it into the international cookbooks, the hidden treasures that you will only find after spending an extensive amount of time in a country or know about from a friend or website. And they are well worth your time so long as you choose the right ones.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

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30 Ways in 30 Days – Day Seventeen: Beyond the Television

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Since the advent of the Internet the concept of global has gone beyond just a term and become a reality. Skype, Google, Magic Jack and other VOIP programs have transformed the way we communicate, allowing global communication in an instant. And while the information of the past used to be confined to specific television channels and media publications these days the Internet is a wide open space of free information shared by people from around the world. And while it is true that you might have to sift through that information on occasion to find a nugget of helpful truth, there is a great big world beyond the teleprompter, one that the vast majority of people are unaware exists.

If you have been contemplating making the change to location independent digital nomad there are certainly things you need to know in advance. Transitioning into a digital nomad is not something that can happen overnight. You need time to research countries, cities, to find accommodations, check if the schools are there for your kids, quality medical care for your health, safety and so on and so forth. But just like I showed you in yesterday’s post about the real safety numbers that are never advertised on the news for fear of the masses knowing the truth, there is a severe lack of truthful information shown on the television. If you want the real truth you have to be willing to look for it.

The reality with media outlets is that for years they have been a means of controlling the masses. I won’t go into all the conspiracy theory stuff here, but the bottom line is that television was (and still is to some degree) for years a means of channeling specific information through to the viewers. Anything people see on the television as told to them by a news source is considered fact. Undeniable, unquestionable and unequivocal. Or at least it was until people were able to start fact-checking the news via the Internet, at which point it becomes glaringly obvious that what they tell you on one channel differs greatly from what is shown on another channel, and across all the channels there are always different versions of the story that are far from what actually happened on the ground or what actually exists in the place the newscasters are telling you about.

Many news journalists who read you the news off their teleprompters are nothing more than mouthpieces. They are paid a wage to read words off of a teleprompter and to look pretty and friendly so that the people watching will establish trust with that particular channel. In many cases these people have never been out of their own city, let alone the country, yet they are reporting on news and facts from around the world as if they are experts on the subject matter. Telling you that places like Mexico City are some of the most dangerous in the world when in fact Mexico City has a lower per/100k murder rate than Denver or New York City, and when you compare its 8/100k to Washington D.C.’s 31/100k murder rate it looks like paradise on earth.

If you want the truth about a destination before you begin living like a local on location you need to look beyond the television and the so-called experts with their perfect hair and makeup and supposed wealth of information funneled through to them from the executives at the top who deem what is or isn’t acceptable to be shown on the news. Padding the information you receive and telling you exactly what you want to hear about how safe and perfect your corner of suburbia is. Go to sleep, you have nothing to fear, everything is perfect just where you are right now, there is no reason to leave, no reason to look beyond what we are giving you. Shhhh, go to sleep. Trust us….

Every country does this to some degree, but the beauty of living in the digital age where the sharing of information is on a global scale is that it becomes easy for you to dig up the truth if you are willing to look for it. There are many location independent digital nomads like myself who make a living researching on and sharing such information, plus there are thousands of blogs written by locals and expats, not to mention plenty of sites such as CouchSurfing, TravBuddy and Facebook where you can get the low-down-and-dirty about any destination in the world from people who are living on the ground and can point you in the right direction. With the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere at the drop of a hat, completely for free with utilities such as Skype, you have no reason to go on living in the dark when it comes to getting information about the city you want to live like a local in.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

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30 Days in 30 Ways – Day Sixteen: Safety Realities

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“Why is it that traveling Americans are always so dreadful?” — Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis

Propaganda is the bane of adventure, and fear is the lifeblood by which governments keep you locked inside your prison…er, I mean your home country, spending your tax dollars at home like a good little worker bee instead of going out into the world, spreading your wings and living life by your own rules. And perhaps one of the biggest lies of all is how “dangerous” the rest of the world is according to the various state departments of countries like the United States.

What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the name “Mexico”? If drugs, cartels and violent murders were the first few things that came to mind when you thought of the country you are one of the misinformed who just don’t know any better because they only know what the news and the government is telling them about a particular country. And while it is true that Juarez and other parts of northern Mexico can be dangerous, take a look at this article from USA Today. In it we see that Mexico City, long considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world by American standards, had a 8/100,000 murder rate for 2010. This is in comparison to Washington D.C., which had a 31.4/100,000 murder rate for 2009. Bogota, Colombia has a 22/100,000 murder rate, which is still much less than Washington D.C., and San Paulo comes in at 14/100,000. If you look at the Yucatan, where Cancun is located, the murder rate was only 2/100,000 for 2010, making it one of the lowest rates in the world. Meanwhile, Denver, Colorado ranked in at 9/100,000 in 2006, still beyond that of Mexico City.

Bottom line? Places like Mexico have cities that are far safer than some of the supposedly-superior cities in the United States. And before you say that it’s not fair to compare cities of varying size, remember that the X/100,000 statistics are the international standard for defining the danger levels of a city, state or country. Size doesn’t enter into it. This is how the government defines the danger level of a place. The reality is that the United States has some of the most dangerous cities in the world as defined by their own systems.

What does that mean to you as a location independent digital nomad? Simply this: if you are looking into living like a local in a foreign destination you can rest safe in the knowledge that most cities around the world are safer than their American counterparts. The numbers are there. All you have to do is take the time to do the initial research via your preferred search engine and you will find everything in black and white, raw math. The numbers don’t lie.

However, one thing you do need to consider is that the numbers presented here only take into account murders. If you are worried about pickpockets, robbery and otherwise there are different statistics you can look at, but what I am focusing on here is proof that most of the cities around the world are not nearly as dangerous as the media would have you believe. The rumors that you are going to go to a foreign city and wind up dead are mostly exaggerated far, far beyond the realities for most of these places.

That’s not to say certain cities don’t present their dangers. According to this article from back in 2010 by the New York Times, Caracas, Venezuela has a supposed 200/100,000 murder rate, making it one of the most dangerous cities in the world. But this is just one city out of an entire country, and if you head towards Margarita Island and places similar along the coast of Venezuela you will find tourist resorts that are very well protected, full of educated people and as safe as anywhere else you could think of going.

The bottom line is that while safety is of course a concern no matter what city you go to, the stories of every place outside of the United States being lawless, chaotic and dangerous are for the most part largely exaggerated. It’s merely another way the system keeps you bogged down at home, afraid to ever leave, afraid to ever break free and live life on your own terms. So many people believe Bogota to be an impossibly dangerous city to travel to or live in, but those years are long behind her. In the modern era Bogota may still have a somewhat high murder rate (22/100k), but it’s still far less than Washington D.C., and Cancun barely even registers on the map with its 2/100k. So get out there in the world, enjoy yourself and stop living in fear. There is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

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30 Ways in 30 Days – Day Fifteen: Street Smarts

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“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

I should preface this article with the following: in 12 years of traveling I have never been pick-pocketed nor have I ever been robbed or mugged. I have been throughout Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America in places the U.S. State Department has claimed are exceptionally dangerous (such as Colombia or Bulgaria). I’ve walked side by side with people who have been mugged and talked with people who have been robbed, but I’ve never had it happen to me personally. I’m sure that one day it will happen, but it hasn’t yet and I attribute that to street smarts more than blind luck.

When you are making the transition into the location independent lifestyle as a digital nomad there are always going to be learning periods in whatever city you choose. Different cities have different levels of street danger and you have to learn the ropes for your particular city if you want to truly live like a local and understand things the way the locals do. But there’s more to it than city specifics, and if you really want to be safe there are a few things you can do to ensure the chances of you having any issues are as low as possible.

The first thing you need to understand is that all cities in the world pose a risk in terms of pick-pocketing or robbery. New York City, London, Denver, Dubai, Shanghai, Cancun, Bogota…they all share this in common. Fear of being robbed should not stop you from choosing a particular city, because no matter where you go in the world you have that same risk. Even where you live now you have the risk of being robbed, although they are probably lesser because you have taken precautions against it. Like alarm systems, living in a secured neighborhood and etc. You can do the same thing when you live like a local as long as you know what to do.

Probably one of the most important types of street smarts to hone is your perception, or what is going on around you. People who walk around with their nose stuck in a smartphone texting, downloading, browsing and doing other online things run a higher risk of having something happen to them on the streets not simply because they are walking around with a piece of tech, but also because they aren’t aware of their surroundings. While there are certain sections of cities where you can do this (centros are usually safe in cities around the world), there are also parts of cities where you need to keep your eyes open. Places like open markets, commuter buses, trains and subways are good examples of these types of places. These are places in all cities where you put away your toys and you pay attention.

Don’t walk alone at night is another common-sense item. No matter what city in the world you are in this is true. Any traveling done after 11 or so in the evening should be done via registered taxi or with a couple of friends. In the same vein you should always stick to well-lit streets if you do decide to walk. But here’s a couple of things to consider. I’ve lived in Sofia, Cancun and Bogota for prolonged periods of time. Each one of these cities are supposedly notorious for having foreigners get pick-pocketed and robbed. And even in my time in Bogota I did meet three other people who had been robbed within a week of talking with them. But they weren’t following a few basic guidelines to professionally following the location independent digital nomad lifestyle. I’ve walked extensively in all of these cities, after midnight and even alone a few times on well-lit streets (that I knew well from having lived there long enough to know I could trust them) and not once, in all my time of being in these places, have I been robbed or in any way threatened. I’ve never once felt unsafe. I say this to point out that as long as you are smart about things, you shouldn’t have any problems no matter where you live.

Never carry your debit cards or credit cards after 11 as well, and keep cash on you to a minimum. Remember that saying about how you should never take anything with you if you can’t afford to let it go? This applies to street smarts in foreign destinations. If you leave your home with a fancy phone, 150 dollars in cash, a 300 dollar watch and other accouterments to boot you are just another target. I travel with about $20 to $25 at any given time, and I only take the debit card out when I’m going grocery shopping. I have a cheap burner phone that cost around $25 and I don’t wear expensive jewelry. If I were to be robbed at any given time the thief might get off with $50 worth of things.

Never hail a taxi from the street after 11 at night. Either call ahead and have a taxi meet you or use a taxi that is waiting in front of a well-lit and busy public area. Most parks in central sections of cities are happening spots for nightlife with the locals, which means there are usually restaurants and streets along the parks with plenty of taxis waiting for people to exit the restaurants or leave the park. If you want to add in some extra safety you can always call a friend when you are entering the cab and give them the cab information. If you do this in the local language it’s a good way of just establishing with the cabbie that you aren’t just some drunk tourist but are in fact someone who knows their way around things, and there are even less chances of something happening because they know your friend has the info about the cab.

In short, no matter where you plan to live like a local and follow the location independent lifestyle as long as you follow a few simple rules you can establish street smarts that will last you for years to come regardless of what city in the world you happen to be in. Remember, it’s not the city that is dangerous. It’s only the people who aren’t cautious who get robbed, and there’s nothing wrong with being a little overly cautious.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

Beyond Borders - The Social RevolutionGet Your Copy Today!