IE Blog

By Bret Love

Raised in California, Greg Homel has been a nature lover from a very early age, but birds have always held a special place in his heart. The avid ornithologist has been guiding birding tours since the late ‘80s, establishing himself as an award-winning photojournalist, documentary film producer and lecturer.

He’s traveled to all seven continents and seen more than half of the world’s 9,800 or so bird species in their native habitats. So when he describes Colombia as “the world's most bird-rich nation,” the man knows what he’s talking about!

Here, we take time to get to know a little more about IE’s Colombia Tour Expedition Leader, from his early interest in nature and his fascination with birds to his favorite places for bird-watching in Colombia.

How did you originally become interested in nature? 

I'm a fortunate "victim of geography," having grown up in Sherman Oaks, California, with the chaparral-clad Santa Monica Mountains foothills as my backyard! Even though I've been lucky enough to visit all seven continents and most of the world's major biomes in my career, those wonderful hills I explored during my formative years still stand out as some of the most natural and inspiring places I've ever seen.

At what age did you realize you had a particular fascination with birds?

It was early, and one of my first memories of wild nature. Nesting Cliff Swallows were visible right outside my second story bedroom window one summer. I asked my mother what kind of birds they were. She replied, "They're swallows!" At first I tried to correct her on the ID, because they didn't have forked-tails like the swallows depicted in my children's nature guides (including A Golden Guide to Birds). Alas, she was correct... and the rest is history!

What is it about birds – as opposed to butterflies or frogs or some other species – that speaks to you?

Birds are an important part of the natural world and, because many are migratory– they're natural emissaries from distant and alluring biomes far and wide– they offer a connection to the same! But my interest in nature is not at all limited to birds. It would be remiss to intellectually limit myself in such a way. But to be good at anything, you need to have a specialty. For me, birds are that specialty!

Let's talk about Colombia. Most people are familiar with big cities like Cartagena or Bogota, but know very little about the country's natural beauty. When did you take your first trip to Colombia, and what made the place so special to you?

My first visit to Colombia was in the mid-1990s, when I reached the border from Estado Merida, Venezuela, in the Northern Andes. I was on the trail of the Bearded Helmetcrest – a high-Andean hummingbird found only in Colombia and Venezuela – and luckily succeeded in finding this wonderful bird. The allure of being on the border of the world's most bird-rich nation was so strong that I knew I’d be back one day to explore the country. I've since had the privilege of leading a half-dozen birding expeditions to all three of Colombia's Andean cordilleras, the Caribbean, the Llanos and the Amazon, and the Santa Marta massif, seeing nearly 1,000 species in the process. The country is so bio-diverse, and so rich in ornithological delights and natural history, that I’ve still only scratched the surface.

Can you talk about a few of your favorite places in Colombia that IE travelers will be able to experience for themselves?

I'm particularly drawn to Sanctuario De Flora y Fauna Del Otun Quimbaya (a.k.a. Otun Quimbaya Natural Park) and Reserva Ecologica Rio Blanco (a.k.a. Rio Blanco Ecological Reserve). You can often see the endangered Cauca Guan (which was considered possibly extinct when I first started studying Colombian birds), the difficult to find Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, and the Torrent Duck at Otun Quimbaya. And it's possible to see and photograph up to seven species of the normally elusive antpittas at Rio Blanco’s feeders! The reserve's manager, a good friend of mine, has worked for years to bring the dream of viewing these feathered will-o-the-wisps from dream to reality. These birds are the ambassadors for their cloud-forest environment. Once seen, they'll never be forgotten!

Any personal advice you can offer to IE guests about getting the most out of their Colombia travel experience?

Come with an active mind, a flexible spirit of adventure and an eye for the beauty of nature, and you can't go wrong!   I think the naturally gracious hospitality and friendliness of the Colombian people will not only impress, but serve to dispel any anxieties one might have had about the former state of affairs of this now readily accessible natural history treasure. Like me, you'll want to return again and again…

Watch this webinar hosted by Greg to learn more about travel to Colombia.

Bret Love is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of Green Global Travel and Green Travel Reviews, and is a passionate advocate for ecotourism, environmental conservation and sustainable living. He’s also a veteran freelance writer whose work has appeared in American Way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine and Rolling Stone.

All photos ©Greg R. Homel/Natural Elements Productions



For any travelers journeying to the Peruvian Amazon, there are a couple of tree species that always attract a lot of attention: the enormous kapok trees and the much smaller and extremely more prevalent cecropias.

The cecropia is one of the first trees to grow on disturbed soils. Along the Amazon River, that can be areas of new accumulation of soil from erosion deposits, in areas scorched by fire or any place where the dynamics of water has altered the landscape as it does on a continual basis. Trees like the cecropia are known as “pioneer” species as they are the first species to take hold in any particular low lying riverine habitat.

The cecropia is a distinctive tree and visitors to the region learn to recognize the tree very quickly. Many eco-travelers may have first learned about cecropia trees n Costa Rica or Panama tours as the cecropia has a very wide range in the neotropics. The trunk is typically fairly straight and slender and upon close inspection, has ridges, similar to the ridge on bamboo. The trees foliage is near its canopy and the leaves form an umbrella shape. When standing below a cecropia, it is fairly evident that many insects feed on the leaves as each hole allows light to penetrate, sometimes appearing like leaf skeletons.  

While navigating up or down the Amazon, cruise guests on IE’s deluxe riverboat, La Estrella Amazonica, learn from the guides that searching for brown blobs in the tops of cecropia is the best way to find a sloth. Amazingly, many arboreal termite nests are often called sloths and only with the power of binoculars or the keen eyes of a guide tell if indeed the brown blob is a sloth or something less exciting.

When walking in the lowland forests of the neotropics, caution has to be exercised when standing near a cecropia. Cecropia trunks are the refuge for an ant species that vigorously protects the tree trunk and even keeps herbivores from climbing the trunk from the ground. The ants are a type of Azteca ant and a nonchalant lean on a tree can result in extreme regrets by the leaner! The ants live inside of the tree and their holes are located at the growth ridges of the trunk. Guides will frequently provide a demonstration whereas they use a piece of wood and rap loudly on a cecropia. Within a few seconds, hundreds if not thousands of ants exit their holes and descend on the area where the knocking occurs. One soon realizes that touching, leaning against or any other activity near a cecropia can be met with a very unpleasant experience. Cecropia trees are to be appreciated from a distance!

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.


As part of our on-going partnership with the Peruvian NGO CONAPAC, International Expeditions employee Emily Harley-Reid traveled to Peru in April to participate in the Adopt-a-School program’s annual school supply distribution trip. In addition to providing needed books and supplies, this year the program also initiated the Sawyer Classroom Project, setting up Sawyer filter systems in 179 classrooms in schools along the Amazon and Napo Rivers.

Sadly, in many communities across the Amazon Basin, the primary source of water is rivers, streams and ponds. Drinking and cooking with parasite-filled, contaminated water creates an obvious health risk, especially among children.

“Honestly, while I love wildlife, the children are always my favorite part of traveling to the Amazon,” said Harley. “They are always so welcoming and funny. Quick to give a smile or a hug and to show-off their school work. So, it’s always been heartbreaking to know that so many of these children will live their lives sick or malnourished because they simply don’t have access to clean water.”

Finding solutions for providing clean drinking water to Earth’s most remote places isn’t a simple or easy process, nor is there only one answer. More than five years ago, our friends at CONAPAC started a clean water program building community water treatment plants. IE contributed as well, and many guests on our Amazon River cruises have seen the water treatment towers through the years. Although many rural river communities that have benefited from the program, not all are good candidates for water towers. Flooding and erosion often lead communities to relocate as often as every four to five years. And the water towers are certainly not portable.

So we were thrilled when CONAPAC started testing a pilot project using bucket-sized water filtration systems by the Sawyer company. Homes in three rainforest communities tested the systems and during this year’s Adopt-a-School deliveries, each classroom also received a system. Since the system’s filter can be used over and over, a limitless supply of potable water can be produced each day to meet the classroom or family’s needs.

“The Sawyer systems were so incredibly easy to transport and operate, and the concept so simple, that even 10-year-olds are able to be responsible for maintaining their classroom’s buckets,: said Harley. “Throughout the week I was in Peru with the AAS project, I continuously drank from buckets of filtered water and refilled my bottle. This is water so sediment and parasite filled that these communities have lived in a cycle of sickness.”

“There is also such a demand for access to clean water, because the people know what the medical benefits will be. When I spoke to the crew of La Estrella Amazonica about bringing these systems to the villages along the Ucayali River, they were intrigued…even asking if they could get systems for their homes and families.”

And thanks to the generosity of past guest Kathleen Egan and Eleanor Morpheu, in June the 50 families in the village of Cedro Isla will receive a personal Sawyer system, along with much needed supplies for their school.

When you look at the picture above and think “I would never let my children and family drink that water,” you can rest assured that dozens of families now have access to clean water, and know that International Expeditions is committed to spreading water filtration systems across the Upper Amazon Basin.

To learn more about the Sawyer PointONE system, visit or contact


The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA), a group of conservation-minded ecotourism companies like International Expeditions, will contribute $65,000 to four organizations working on the front lines of Galapagos conservation. IE was a founding member of IGTOA and Emily Harley, a member of our marketing team, serves as vice president on the board.

“What I find most encouraging about the work IGTOA supports is that it covers a wide range of needs,” said Harley. “Through these donations, we are combating invaisive species, supporting research and science, and educating a new generation of locals to become the next generation fighting to preserve this amazing destination.”

WildAid: $27,000 to Improve Biosecurity and Combat Invasive Species
For the third year in a row, IGTOA is helping to fund a massive initiative spearheaded by WildAid to overhaul and strengthen the biosecurity system in the Galapagos. This year, our funds will be used to provide specialized training for biosecurity personnel and to fund a media campaign to educate visitors and Galapagos residents about the impact of invasive species and how to avoid introducing new ones.
The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF): $20,000 for General Operating Support
Our funds will provide general operating support to the CDF, which operates the Charles Darwin Research Station, to help further its mission to conserve and protect the Galapagos Islands by providing scientific information and technical support to government institutions, including Galapagos National Park.
Ecology Project International (EPI): $10,000 to Help Educate and Inspire the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders in the Galapagos
For the second year in a row, IGTOA is sponsoring 32 Galapagos teens and four teachers to participate in EPI's hands-on conservation training program, which includes giant tortoise monitoring, habitat restoration, and invasive species eradication.
Friends of Galapagos New Zealand: $8,000 to Research and Protect the White-vented Storm Petrel
Our funds will make possible an important research project on the White-vented storm petrel. Little is known about this iconic and possibly endemic species and it could be facing extinction.
About IGTOA:
International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) is a nonprofit association of travel companies and conservation organizations dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos. IGTOA's mission is to preserve the Galapagos Islands as a unique and priceless world heritage that will provide enjoyment, education, adventure and inspiration to present and future generations of travelers.


galapagos-blue-footed-boobyAnyone who has traveled to the Galapagos Islands no doubt has dozens of “boudoir” photos of the comical blue-footed boobies and their distinct mating dance. But, according to a new study in Avian Conservation and Ecology, blue-footed boobies have been demonstrably less amorous since 1998 and their population numbers are in sharp decline.

The study says that the birds' breeding and reproduction has dropped to the point that "few pairs bred in 2011-2013 and almost no birds in juvenile plumage were seen." Even when healthy, blue-footed boobies only raise one to two babies per year.

But blue-footed boobies are also starving to death as the waters surrounding the historic archipelago experience a shortfall of sardines – critical to the diets of breeding blue-footed boobies. Other residents of Galapagos, like sea lions and Nazca boobies, are also showing evidence of fewer sardines in their diet.

5 Quick Facts About Blue-Footed Boobies

  1. Boobies are thought to take their name from the Spanish word "bobo," which means "stupid."
  2. While boobies are found off the western coasts throughout Central and South America, the Galapagos Islands population includes about half of all breeding pairs of blue-footed boobies.
  3. Male birds attract potential mates by showing off their feet wih a high-stepping strut. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate.
  4. Studies show that males' blue feet become less vibrant with age; however, if males skip a breeding season and don't mate, they displayed a more attractive foot color.
  5. Both parents feed and care for their checks.


April 25, 2014

Hello Heliconias

Heliconias are a common flower in the cut flower industry but most people have no idea where they are naturally found. Heliconias are found throughout the Neotropics as well as on many Pacific Islands west to Indonesia. Because of the beautiful, often long draping flowers of the heliconias, the plants are also very desirable as garden plants in regions where it does not get cold. In areas of the U.S., that includes South Florida, South Texas and Southern California. 

Heliconia are a very diverse group of plants with over 100 species. Most are exquisitely shaped and brightly colored, with reds, orange and yellow. The shape of the flowers, in most species is quite unique and they almost appear to not have an opening to the individual flower. Upon close examination, they do have an opening at the bottom of each flower and there are certain species of birds that are responsible for pollinating many of the Neotropical species...the hermit hummingbirds. There are a number of species of hermit hummers but all have rather long curved beaks that neatly fit up and into the flowers of heliconia. Long-tailed hermits are beautiful birds that frequent stands of heliconia along the Amazon River. It is not uncommon to be admiring a picturesque stand of heliconia flowers during an excursion on IE's Amazon River cruise and have a long-tailed hermit fly in for a visit. Lucky observers gasp at the site of a big hummingbird with a long slender tail and often the bird disappears as quickly as it arrived.

Heiconias are also related to bananas and gingers. In this regard, the large and very long leaves of these plants serve as a nice diurnal roost for tent making bats. Whenever a sharp-eyed naturalst guide sees a banana, ginger or heliconia leaf, cut at the vein and folded is the indicator that possibly a small group of tent bats are in residence. They are gorgeous little bats and upon looking under the leaf, there may be three or four little faces staring back at you. A very special treat, indeed, for lucky observers.

One last note that may be worth mentioning is the presence of a predator that occasionally can be found on or near heliconia flowers in Costa Rica. That is the venomous eye-lash viper. Eye-lash vipers are a small arboreal pit-viper that exhibits great diversity in coloration. Most of somewhat greenish with red spots but one color morph is brilliant yellow. These little pit-vipers hang out at the heliconia and ginger flowers as they catch prey, like hummingbirds, coming to the flowers. In fact, eye-lash vipers can often be found during our Costa Rica tours on excursions at the Arenal Hanging Bridges. There are wonderful photographs of a yellow eye-lash viper in action striking at a hummingbird. Yet another reminder of the wonderful adaptations exhibited in nature.

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.


Special thanks to Mary Ceren, a guest on International Expeditions' Colombia tour, for the following trip review and photos.

"As a participant in International Expeditions' premier trip to Colombia, I am filled with graphic memories and anticipation of a return visit. Colombia is a country whose biodiversity is as rich as its civil history is tumultuous. It’s a birder’s paradise and our cozy group of six included two expert birdwatchers and a leader, Greg Homel, who has seen more than half of all of the world’s species of birds.  We scoped, chased, trekked and tasted our way through the country under Greg’s expert guidance.

"The itinerary planned by IE took us from Bogota to the velvet-carpeted slopes of Valle de Cocura, through more foothills of the Andes, a 14,000 foot dormant volcano, and finally to the bustle, beaches and mangrove swamps of Cartagena. Our first stop was in Armenia, the coffee growing region of Colombia.  Here we traveled by willis jeep to see the giant wax palm trees, the tallest palm in the world and the nesting foundation for the endangered,  yellow-eared parrot.At lunch we feasted on fresh trout and palatenos, or fried plantains.

"More touring of the zona cafetera uncovered Parque Natural Otun Quimbaya, Quindio Botanical Gardens and its butterfly sanctuary, and Los Nevados National Park. The summit of Nevado del Ruiz is more than 14,000 feet high and experienced its last eruption in 1985. At the Rio Blanco Reserve we photographed a local naturalist hand feeding antpittas, and later fueled ourselves with huevos pericos, Colombian scrambled eggs, and arepas. Our group munched happily as tourmaline sunangel, buff-tailed coronet, and speckled hummingbirds darted around us. An endemic spectacled bear splashed in a pool nearby.La Casana a former convent in the town of Minca, beckoned us next.  Its location in the humid eminence of Sierra Nevada attracts more than 260 species of birds. Joe, a local naturalist, graciously guided us on a night hike through the jungle where we saw black and white striped owls and heard scampering monkeys. 

"As we cruised to our final destination we were buoyed by the smell of fresh, Caribbean air. Our tastes were satisfied, too, by coconut lemonade, coconut rice, pandebonos and fish stew from a roadside eatery. Castillo San Felipe de Barajas rose before us on our approach to Cartagena The city’s colonial architecture below the castle revealed bright colors, graceful balconies and abundant flora. Exploration of La Boquilla outside the city concluded our Colombian sightseeing. 

"This swamp with its unique ecosystem shelters many nesting and migratory birds.  Kingfishers, common lauras, pink spatulas and herons posed for our cameras, while our Cartagenian canoeists refreshed us with coconut milk. Overflowing with happy memories, beautiful pictures and recipe ideas our group sadly bade farewell to Colombia."

Click here to learn more about IE's 2014 Colombia tours.

Peru certainly doesn’t lack for world-class restaurants and its renowned chefs and fresh cuisine are making this country a “must see” destination for foodies. But a few, rare experiences stand out for those who want to combine a memorable meal in Lima with a survey of Peru’s pre-Inca history.

Treat yourself to a divine meal and taste of history at Huaca Pucllana. Your fresh ceviche or chifa — Peru’s version of Chinese food — is only topped by the view of a pre-Inca temple complex! This is the perfect way to relax before or after our Peru tours.

The Site

Turn the corner of Avenue Larco Herrera and a huge, mud-brick pyramid seems towers above the balconies and homes of this nondescript residential neighborhood. Archaeologists are still working on this site, which dates back to at least the 4th century, hundreds of years before the Inca. Originally, the complex stretched over 16 acres and included multiple smaller pyramids. Recent findings include mummies, and a small on-site museum highlights pottery and other artifacts.

The Meal

Nestled at the edge of the complex is an airy, open restaurant provides a lovely oasis with a view of the temple and the Miraflores skyline. I’m alone with my guide on the breezy patio, free to walk around for views of the complex and to eavesdrop on the guided tours. A refreshing Pisco sour and trout tapas starts our lunch, which includes a ceviche appetizer and paiche – a local fish – with mashed potatoes and sweet sauce for our main course. For dessert, I chose a lacuma mouse. Guests from IE’s Amazon cruises will recognize lacuma as one of our most popular ice cream flavors. This rainforest fruit has a light, almost caramel flavoring. 

Insider’s Tip: While dinner is a popular time to dine at Huaca Pucllana, we suggest visiting at lunch. The crowds are lighter and you enjoy a more intimate experience at the complex. Make a morning of the experience by starting your day browsing at the nearby Indian Market for handicrafts before the 15-minute walk through Miraflores to Huana Pucllana.

Interested in adding a meal at Huaca Pucllana to your Amazon cruise of Northern Peru tour? Contact our Custom Travel Planners at


Varzea. Igapo. Terra firma. These terms, while unfamiliar to most people, are extremely important in the types of habitats they describe. While on IE's Amazon River cruises, guides will occasionally use these terms and explain the meanings but rarely is there time to more fully describe how important and why these terms are meaningful.

Terra firma is upland habitat where the elevation does not allow water, even during high water season, to inundate the forest. The soils are often clay soils with very minimal top soil as the heat and humidity allows for amazing biological action and rather than building much soil, the dead leaves, trees and other organic matter is consumed. An intriguing feature of terra firma is the plants and animals that thrive in that habitat and many species are entirely dependent on terra firma. Because of my interest in amphibians, I am going to use a species of frog as an example. The beautiful reticulated poison-dart frog which is a diminutive creature is reddish with black spots on its sides. These bright little jewels of the forest are only found in terra firma habitats. As the elevation drops to the level of water inundation during high water, other poison-dart frogs may be found but not the reticulated species. This is just one of many hundreds if not thousands of species dependent on terra firma. There are countless insects as well as birds, primates, big cats, reptiles and amphibians that cannot exist in any other habitat.

Igapo — what a great word! I even enjoy saying the word as it sounds cool!  Igapo is a term that describes lowland forest that is seasonally flooded (high water) in a blackwater system. The blackwater systems of rivers, streams, lakes and oxbows are prevalent in sandy soil regions and the water takes on the color of tea. It is very clear but tannin rich from the decomposition of leaves and wood and is fairly acidic. These waterways are also fairly slow flowing and at times the flow rate may be unperceivable. It is in these habitats that the gorgeous reflections of trees and sky are mirrored on the surface of the water and in photographs it is often difficult to determine where the highly reflective water meets the surroundings. It is also in these areas where, during low water, tremendous numbers of fish eating birds (egrets, herons and cormorants) congregate in massive feeding flocks to fatten up on the bounty of fish entering the rivers as water recedes from the flooded igapo forest.
Varzea. Another wonderful word and it is similar in meaning to Igapo but varzea is seasonally flooded forest areas in whitewater habitats. The term whitewater in the Amazon does not have the same meaning that we are familiar with in the U.S. Whitewater, for many of us refers to high turbulence areas, such as rapids in our rivers. In the Amazon Basin, whitewater is actually best described as brown water. These waters are extremely turbid from sediment (especially from erosion) and typically fairly swift flowing which allows for particulate matter to remain suspended in the water column. In these habitats, many of the fishes have reduced vision but rely heavily on tactile senses, like the whiskers on cat fish. 

Of significance to mention, where blackwater and whitewater mix, such as where blackwater tributaries flow into the Amazon, there is a very distinctive demarcation where the waters flow along side of each other and then gradually downstream, the waters mix and the whitewater takes over.  As far as we know, where the two waters mix is some of the highest aquatic biodiversity in the Amazon. For that reason, local fisherman as well as birds, pink river dolphins and gray river dolphins converge on those “mixing” confluences as there is an abundance of food for all.

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.

You’ve planned and packed and you’re all ready for your expedition, but you may have overlooked one of the key ingredients for successful nature travel: taking the necessary steps to make sure you and your family take a few simple steps to keep yourselves safe. Our friends at MedJetAssist have great travel tips for ensuring your own safety while exploring.


  • Stay in hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security.
  • Stay on lower-level floors in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly.
  • Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars.


  • Your tour operator can arrange for transfers from the airport or port if necessary, and International Expeditions includes arrival and departure transfers in the cost of our ecotours. Taxis or private car hires are recommended as you are more insulated. Most airports, ports and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and car service pick-up.
  • Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or does not pick you up from the designated area.
  • If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel.
  • If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas.
  • Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.

Keep a Low Profile

  • Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary publicly...we know, it's hard not to share everything on social media, but it will keep you safer. 
  • Vary your schedule if possible and vary travel routes when you can.
  • Maintain a low profile and dress down if possible.
  • Leave the expensive jewelry and watches at home and do not display large amounts of cash.
  • Look like a person of modest means and do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room.

Out and About

  • Keep your valuables including passports, etc., in a money belt concealed or use the hotel safe to store valuables.
  • Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but separate from where you are carrying your passport.
  • In high-risk countries it is a good idea to check in with the American Embassy and provide them with a copy of your passport in case you need to have it replaced.
  • When using your credit card, keep an eye on it until it is returned to you. Always verify that it is your credit card before storing it again.

As always, trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable in a restuarant, shop or area of a city, do what you would even if not in a foreign country - leave. 

What are your best tips for staying safe when you travel? Let us know in the comments below. 

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