Remember when booking your travels only via travel agents was a thing? Now the only kind of ‘travel agent’ we use is the endless scrolling we do on Instagram to get our next travel fix. From research to bookings to actually travelling, we are constantly hooked to our phones and, in turn, to social media. Drunk with the privilege of instant access to information across the web, the new-age traveller needs to keep a few things in mind about the do’s and don’ts of travelling in the time of social media.
Avoid geo-tagging pictures
You could be single-handedly harming the environment with your Instagram posts. Geotagging photos fuel over-tourism to offbeat and delicate spots which are not built to handle a large influx of travellers. This has happened time and again with different forms of media. Remember Pangong, a glimmering turquoise lake featuring at the end of the Bollywood film 3 Idiots? What was once a remote and little-known spot, has had visitor numbers spiking ever since the film released in 2009, quadrupling over the years. And thus damaging a delicate eco system.
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Use dating apps with caution
Using dating apps like Tinder or Bumble when you travel to a new location can be thrilling, be it for personal purposes, for finding new people to hang out with or going on a totally platonic tour with a local. If you do plan to meet up with strangers in a new place, make sure you let someone else know where you are going to be, with who, and for how long. It’s safest to meet someone in a public place and never let them know which hotel you are staying at.
Don’t share flight information
Yes, we know it’s standard Instagram procedure to post a photo of your boarding pass or passport on your story before boarding your flight, but do refrain from doing so. This gives easy fodder to criminals to glean sensitive personal information or even break into your house in your absence. If you really want to, wait until you’ve returned home from your trip. Some insurance companies have started rejecting claims from travellers who have been burgled if they have posted travel updates online while on a trip.
Use a VPN for public WiFi
Who here hasn’t sought the sweet, sweet fruits of free public WiFi? It’s one of the very first things we look up while checking into a hotel or visiting a public space. Make sure the WiFi you’re connecting to is legitimate as criminals are known to replicate public networks to lure unsuspecting people into sharing information. Under no circumstances should you carry out bank transactions — use your cellular data for that. The best way to be safe is to use a VPN app. Needless to say, password-protect all your devices in case they get misplaced or stolen.
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Be mindful of photography restrictions
It’s exciting to be abroad in a new country but do not forget that this isn’t home. Different countries tend to have restrictions on what you can and cannot take photos of. For instance, did you know that most Indian airports do not allow photography due to military restrictions? Or that it’s illegal to take non-consensual photos of South Korean women in public, and UAE has a strict ban on photographing palaces or certain government buildings? Before you travel somewhere, find out what restrictions are in place. Better to be safe than sorry.