The Travel Psychologist Is in the News Today:
Mail Tribune (Medford, OR)
Medford’s Michael Brein, a world traveler and writer, says people
should be aware of risks when they go abroad, never forgetting their
Not everyone steps forward with a horror story. “People have also shared absolutely beautiful and wonderful experiences from once-in-a-lifetime romantic encounters to mystical experiences,” says Brein.
Some of the tales are humorous.
Some stories are funny only in retrospect, like the one about the “mad bomber.” A man on a plane prior to takeoff said something about being “ready to crash” in the sense that he was tired and ready for sleep. Other passengers overheard the remark, and reported him to authorities. He was temporarily removed from the aircraft and his belongings searched, until officials realized he was not a bomber. When he got back on the plane, another passenger who hadn’t seen him before excitedly told him about the ‘mad bomber’ who had been apprehended.
And then a woman who had been harassed by men in Mexico figured it might be because she was blonde, so she dyed her hair
black. That reduced the incidents considerably.
Brein is a world traveler himself, having visited nearly 100 countries. He lived in Hawaii for 29 years, moving to Medford a year ago after he felt Hawaii has become too crowded. “Now my nearest neighbor is half a mile away, ” he says with a smile. He’s been a professor of psychology and business in extension programs at the universities of Maryland and Hawaii. More recently he published sightseeing guides for public transportation to cities such as London, Paris and Honolulu.
The first of his books based on his travel interviews is still three to five years away from completion, he says. He envisions one containing the top 100 stories he’s collected from 750 “normal everyday people,” and another on safety andsecurity issues.
“I want to show readers how to maximize the good aspects of travel while minimizing the risks of bad things happening, ” he says. “You know, most of the horrible things that happen to people could be avoided.”
All storytellers will be anonymous in the books, and each will receive a free copy of the book they’re in, if it’s used, he says.
Brein has shared and collected stories from Rogue Valley residents during roundtable events at Travel Essentials in Ashland, a shop that sells travel-related goods. “He’s a real interesting guy,” says Bob Bestor, co-owner of Travel Essentials. “When people get up and tell their stories, he always has an aside or something to add, because he’s been so many places. It makes for a fun evening.”
Bestor says three travel roundtables have been held since last October, with an average attendance of 20. The store may hold another one this fall.
Meanwhile, Brein is interested in hearing from other travelers. He can be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 1029, Ashland, OR 97520-0035, or by phone at 535-9971 or 1-800-M BREIN 2.
THINGS to REMEMBER
How can you make foreign travel safer? Here are some tips from travel storyteller and researcher Michael Brein.
- Use common sense.
- Make an attempt to really be aware at all times. For example, people who are the best dressed and speak English the best are not necessarily the most trustworthy.
- Avoid areas of civil unrest.
- It pays to dress as simply as possible. Try not to stand out in a crowd. Try to blend in. Don’t wear jewelry or expensive watches.
- Don’t put tags on your luggage that easily identify you as a tourist.
- If you think you are in trouble, try not to look like it.
- Avoid eye contact with strangers.
- Don’t think “It can’t happen to me.” It can.
- Don’t be paranoid, but learn how to manage risks.
Keep all this in mind but don’t go overboard. In the overall scheme of things, problems actually are rare.
And a couple of bits of positive advice:
- Try to be open to new experiences and new foods.
- Where the situation obviously is OK, be friendly.