When Traveling Abroad Keep Your Politics Packed Away
Talking politics when traveling outside the US can be unexpectedly uncomfortable.
One of our Jetsetter followers Sue tells us while traveling on vacation to a resort in The Dominican Republic she was surprised that nearly every European vacationer she met had one question after meeting her:
“Did you vote for Trump?“
The new Administration’s hawkish yet isolationist policies have also caused a drop in foreign travel to the US and some wide ranging reactions.
But not all countries are anti-Trump. We’ve heard from numerous business travelers that Trump is very popular in different regions of the world.
A female traveler seems to experienced that when she called a lodge in New Zealand for
reservation. The lodge owner asked:
“Did you attend the women’s march in DC?”
Tell us some of your experiences.
We've been very fortunate traveling abroad. But it could be tricky out there. After all, we live in volatile political times all around the world. It is not just the US. We see it on all continents.
We’re all facing massive changes -- aging populations, new technology upsetting established or creating new industries, and climate change.
Pretty big stuff to grasp and articulate even for the most scholarly.
Most businesspeople doing business in a foreign country understand all this. They’re trying to win over clients and customers, not stand on principle.
Visitors should keep that thought -- especially if you are new to a country. Most likely you are not well-versed in their culture and political tendencies.
That means your best diplomatic move is to keep your politics stuck in your larynx or packed in your luggage back at the hotel.
Here are some tips to think about so you avoid anything uncomfortable.
Avoid offering your political beliefs. You have a right to free speech… in your country. But maybe not there. Remember that you don’t want to ruin a vacation or business trip by creating an international incident. Tell yourself, “I don’t want to be the ugly American.”
If politics is discussed, don’t talk much but to ask questions and listen a lot. Your goal is learn about that culture to enrich your trip. You will find the smartest people are the ones who say little and ask questions.
Be suspicious of anyone trying to draw out your political beliefs. Someone may be trying to use this against you if you are someone in a high position or appearing to be wealthy. You never know if a foreign agent is looking for something. For some that sounds cool. But it can be scary. Remember most countries don’t have our legal system.
Before you travel to a country, read up on recent events in the region especially if there is any political turmoil or recent incidents. Google the country and hit “news”.
More importantly, go to the State Department website and see if there any warnings about the country.
Another good resource for business travelers is Stratfor which offers geopolitical intelligence to many multi-national corporations. As an individual you can get a monthly subscription too.
A good book we suggest is The Like Factor, co-written by a former FBI Agent who identified foreign spies. He has great tips on how to disarm people with words, attitude, and body language.
A little preparation and common sense can go a long way to a successful and amicable trip. Plus, we want to hear your stories.