I bought a money belt for the big train trip in May. I’m not sure if I already feel safer, or if I’m going to end up in a seedy hostel in California, bleeding in a bathtub with my pancreas harvested for money. (Joke’s on them, though. I’m diabetic. You couldn’t give my pancreas away on Craigslist, even if you tacked on a free Hatchimal.)
The money belt itself is fine, but it came with a little flyer labeled “Useful Travel Safety Tips.” I’m eager to read anything that even tangentially relates to this trip, so I sat down to read through their list of 50 helpful (and not-so-helpful) tips. I’ll elaborate more on these in an early chapter of the book, but here’s a glimpse for the voyeuristic among you:
“If possible, take a self-defense class.”
Great. This hadn’t even occurred to me. Do fistfights routinely break out on Amtrak trains? There’ll be a fight over the good seats in the observation car somewhere around Colorado, won’t there?
“Bring a portable door or window alarm.”
The first time I read that, I saw “Bring a portable door” and panicked that the trains might not have doors. Still, even with the rest of the sentence factored in, I find this suggestion a little disturbing.
“Be on the lookout for anybody who is offering to help you with your bags at a train or bus station.”
Because it would be horrible if a Red Cap actually HELPED me lug that suitcase up to my Roomette! The horrors!
These next four really are back to back on the flyer:
“Trust your instincts and use your intuition and gut feeling when dealing with strangers.”
“Make a local friend.”
“Try to dress like a local.”
“In some places, it helps wearing a fake wedding ring.”
I don’t even know where to start with these four. All I know is that, by the time I finished reading #7, I had so many questions that I was weeping uncontrollably.
What if my gut instincts tell me NOT to make a local friend?
To dress like a local in Los Angeles, do I have to wear an Ed Hardy shirt and Birkenstocks and grow a hipster beard?
Why can’t I just wear my real wedding ring? After all, it looks fake in the right lighting…
“If you get lost, do not look at your phone or a map in the middle of the street.”
… because you’ll get hit by a car. Duh.
There are 42 more of these gems in this flyer. After reading all these, I may not be able to work up the courage to get to the station, let alone get on the train.