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Standard Operating Procedure and Travel

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Standard Operating Procedure and Locks are for Friends

I lock up my rucksack. I have a padlock for the zippers and a bike lock to attach the entire bag to something solid.

Standard operating procedure: when I leave my backpack in a room, I lock it. I often do not measure the risk ratio, I just lock it up. this is alright in hostels or hotels, but I find myself locking up my bag in my own apartment here in Istanbul. The only people here are Chaya, myself, and Majid the Syrian; I do not think any of us are going to rifle through my things.

I suppose habits are hard to break, but habits are sometimes good for the traveler in a world that is anything but routine.

I think that I would drive myself nuts if I had to evaluate the risk/ safety ratio for every place I go every single moment of every single day. Rather, I follow the same rules of travel no matter where I am.

Standard operating procedure.


Because you always get caught when your pants are down.

Because things always happen when you least expect it.

Because the very moment you think you know what is going on, is when you realize that you don’t know anything.

The last time I violated my standard operating procedure I got a knife to my throat.

The military indoctrinates its recruits with a standard operating procedure because they know that its members tend to be morons. The perpetual traveler is a perpetual moron. I know this, so I have happenstancially developed a modus operandi that I follow no matter where I travel to.

Doing this allows me the mental free space to daydream and think about other things rather than safety and security.

Habits are actions that are not fully thought about. Sometimes my traveling habits are ridiculous, and I laugh as I catch myself doing things like locking my bag in my own abode. But these automatic standard operating procedures do lend me a hand in keeping off insanity. I know that I can calmly enter any city in any country on the planet without stress or apprehension. Simply put, the act of traveling has molded my way standard operating procedure into something that works. Through making mistakes, errors, and misjudgments I have become a little set in my ways: I have discovered a strategy that generally allows me to continue traveling with very little difficulty and few problems. I have formed a structure for traveling and living that can be applied to almost any place on earth.

My standard operating procedure only hits a brick wall when I engage in social circumstances where they are not acceptable.

I was couchsurfing with a great host when I first arrived in Istanbul. One day he noticed the lock on my rucksack.

“Why do you lock your bag?” he asked.

“It is just a habit,” I replied with a laugh.

“In Turkey,” he began, “locks are for friends.”

With a chuckle, I realized that my standard operating procedure has made me a little set in my ways.

Wire cord that can be used to lock zippers on bag. Read more at Travelvice.com Lockable Backpack Zipper

Standard Operating Procedure and Locks are for Friends

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Filed under: Travel Safe, Travel Strategy, Travel Tips

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 70 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3040 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech RepublicMap