Below are some safety tips and information for travelers that I’ve picked up over the years and lessons learned from personal travel experience and observations of others:
Get information about your destination including contact information for the US consulate from Travel.state.gov
- General Information:
- The most important thing is situational awareness. Travelers should pay attention to their surroundings and be aware of anyone suspicious around them.
- It is difficult for travelers to detect higher risk sections of a city. In general traveling alone or at night is more risky.
- Do not put currency, passports, and credit cards in the same pockets or place. Disperse them in various pockets.
- When possible, leave important documents locked in the safe in your room, at the hotel, or with trusted local friends.
- Valuable items like jewelry should be left at home.
- Have the contact numbers with you of at least two local people who you can call when you need advice or help. Have a written copy if you lose your phone.
- Always know where your luggage is. When in transit, be responsible to find and transport your own luggage. Don’t assume someone else is watching out for your stuff.
- Cramped spaces like trains and buses attract pickpockets. They may have a knife to cut through a purse and are often skilled enough to get wallets out of front pockets. Don’t have all of your cash, credit cards, and documents in one place.
- While on a bus, or anywhere you may have to stand, carry your purse or bag in front of you with your arms crossed over it, if possible, rather than slung behind you.
- Always lock the doors of a car while you are in the car and if you leave a car.
- Always lock the doors of your apartment while you are in the apartment and if you leave the apartment.
- Request a room that is not on the ground floor to make it more difficult for someone to enter your room from the outside, but also no too far up so that you are unable to escape the building easily if necessary.
- After getting to your room, find the fire escape route and make a trial run. Carry your flashlight with you.
- If someone who you don’t know calls and wants to deliver a package to you or visit you, meet in the hotel lobby and not your hotel room.
- Use ATM’s inside of banks or hotel lobby rather than on the street.
- Plan ahead to get your cash so that you have what you need and avoid using ATM’s at risky times in risky locations.
- Be aware of people who are lingering around the ATM.
- Get familiar with the value of the local currency. Sometimes clever vendors take advantage of your ignorance. Look up the number of dollars that it takes to buy a unit of the local currency.
- Go on ‘alert’ when there is a public disturbance. These are often used by gangs of pick pocket thieves. Good pick pockets, including children, can remove your wallet from your front pocket without you noticing it. Don’t put all of your cash in one place.
- Try to blend in. Americans often talk and laugh more loudly than other cultures. Conduct yourself in a way that makes it less obvious that you are foreign by your conduct and by the way that you dress, (maps, cameras, fanny packs, brand new white tennis shoes, and baseball caps).
- If someone is persuading you to follow them and you feel uncomfortable, don’t go.
- Travel with a partner, don’t be alone.
- Carry the directions and address of your local residence, written in the local language (for taxis, etc.).
- Be cautious of eating food purchased from street vendors, especially at the end of hot days. Avoid foods purchased on the street prepared with eggs, mayonnaise, or dairy ingredients.
- Avoid water that isn’t bottled. Get used to drinking water and beverages without ice.
- Your team leader should generally know where you are each day on the field. He should always know in advance if you plan on not coming home some night or travel out-of-town.
- Get help from local friends on “security” issues.
- Be ready with a short and consistent answer for, “Why did you come to my country?” and “Who is paying for your trip?” Answer questions with questions, “I came because it is so beautiful. What would your recommend that I see while I’m here?”
A company that specializes in security training for teams: Safe Travel Solutions
Do you know some other tips or information that should be included here?
Other posts in this series: