SLOW DOWN. We peppered our experts with dozens and dozens of questions—What if your local guide tries to shake you down? How do you convince a midlevel bureaucrat in Haiti to give you a permit?—and the answer was often a variation of one main theme: Be patient, and don't try to force it.
MIND THE ELDERS. Every culture has its idiosyncrasies, but this is a constant. "Always be extremely respectful of older people, especially in rural cultures," says Junger. "All the knowledge is with the elderly. It's their Google."
MAKE CONNECTIONS. "You want to make friends," says Pelton. "When you travel you need to make friends. Carry some sort of gift, like cheap pens with your name and e-mail address on it." The reverse is also true: "Always ask people you befriend for their phone numbers," says Outside contributing editor Patrick Symmes. "Then, if you get into a jam, you've got a local contact."