Traveling to unfamiliar destinations can bring you the kind of problems you don’t want to experience along the way, namely: robbery, rape or murder. Tourists often fall prey to perpetrators because they do not prepare well before traveling. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to do to prevent your travels from turning into tragedy:
1. Never state your home address on the luggage tag. If you are on a business trip, put the company address on the tag; if you visit friends, you can mention their address. Also use covered luggage tags.
2. Stay with your baggage until the baggage is checked in. If you must put your bag down, keep one foot on the handle.
3. Take important papers with you; NEVER check something you just can’t afford to lose. Copy your passport, driver’s license and credit cards.
4. Bring a small flashlight. You never know when you suddenly find yourself “in the dark” and in an unfamiliar environment. Keep your flashlight by your bed at night.
5. Make Sure Your Prescription Drugs Are Filled properly and labeled accurate. Certain prescription medicines are banned in some countries.
6. Never wear anything that radiates prosperity. There should be no gold chains, expensive watches and rings, luggage or other paraphernalia in sight. Better yet: leave your jewelry at home.
7. Travel with only one or two credit cards if possible.
8. Women in particular should never accept a drink from a stranger. Keep an eye on your drink at all times.
9. Vary your schedule; try not to come and go at the same time every day.
10. Only stay in a hotel that uses cards to open room doors and make sure your room has a peephole and deadbolt lock. Secure the chain and secure the door by pushing a rubber stopper under it.
11. Stay in a room near a stairwell. Never take the elevator if fire or smoke is detected. Always stay in a hotel where the doors enter the hallway and not directly from the outside.
12. Don’t wear name tags in public.
13. Do not use unmarked taxis.
14. Sit behind the driver so you can see him, but he can’t see you.
15. Pay the driver on arrival at your destination and while you are still in the vehicle.
16. If you must rent a car, only rent from a reputable company. Any operating problems may indicate tampering.
17. Beware of ‘staged’ car accidents that are meant to wipe you off the map.
18. Back to your parking lots to facilitate a quick exit.
19. Park only in well-lit and well-trafficked areas.
20. If your cell phone doesn’t work outside of the country, consider renting one for the duration of your trip.
21. Ask for identification if you are detained by an official for any reason. When in doubt, say you want to see his superior. Keep your emotions in check.
22. If you are traveling with children, bring an updated photo of each child in case you get separated from them.
23. Write your child’s name and your hotel number on each card; include the contact details of a close friend or relative on the card. Give each child a card that they will carry with them while you are gone. Destroy once home.
24. Discuss with your family what they would do in an emergency while they are away from home, e.g. who to call, how to contact emergency services, etc.
25. Do not discuss travel plans, your room number or other personal information in public within earshot of strangers.
26. Bring a basic first aid kit with bandages, iodine, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, alcohol packs, dramamine, pepto-bismol, antidiarrheal drugs, etc.
27. Familiarize yourself with train and bus schedules before traveling. Have an alternate plan in case your transportation plans change.
28. Do not flash your passport in public. Discreetly show important documents only to officials.
29. Consider purchasing portable alarms that emit a loud noise.
30. Beware of street scams. Children who work with adults are notorious for being pickpockets.
31. Never flash your money in public. Only exchange money with reputable and recognized exchangers.
32. Have tips ready for service personnel in advance.
33. Consider hiring an escort [security] service if you travel in areas with a high crime rate.
The key to safe travel in any area is situational awareness. Distraction from luggage, children, hotel staff, strangers, etc. can put you at risk. Know your environment and be in control of any situation.
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