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Safety Tips When Traveling

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Traveler Checklist

Traveler Checklist

This is part 3 of 3 in a series on safety tips when traveling to dangerous areas.  These tips also apply to emergency situations that may arise unexpectedly while you are on vacation. For Part 1 –  Travel Safety in Dangerous Countries and Part 2 – Safety Tips When Traveling Overseas, you may click here.

Traveling aboard can be quite the adventure. Unfortunately, it sometimes becomes more than you bargained for. For whatever reason, you have decided to visit a region that is prone to some form of safety concerns. This can range from political turmoil to visits to cities with high-crime rates. If you fall into any of these categories, you should use these crucial tips for staying safe.

1. Carry passport photocopies – Make photocopies of your passport, as well as copies for all of your traveling companions. If someone gets separated from the group, then you will have a photo to show to the local authorities. For better accuracy, make the copies in color.

Make Copies of Your Passport

Make Copies of Your Passport

  • Also, on the back of the copy, note personal information including the passport holder’s, height, weight, hair color, eye color and any other identifying marks or traits. You may need to give this copy to the authorities if someone in your group is missing.

2. Access the Risk – Check the U.S. Department of State website prior to leaving, as well as during your stay. This site allows you to enter country-specific information regarding your travel plans.

  • You should check for travel warnings that may result in trip cancellation due to dangerous situations.
  • Travel alerts disseminate information on possible threats that may occur during your visit.

3. Register with the U.S. Embassy – You should enroll in STEP established by the U.S. Department of State. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program notifies you via email with the most current information regarding citizen protests, uprisings, coups d’états, terrorists’ threats, civil war or other acts of violence.  Once you enter your travel itinerary and contact information, it will be possible for the U.S. Embassy to notify you in case of an emergency. This is a free service. Some people may be hesitate to give heir personal information to Big Brother. However, if all hell breaks loose during your vacation, you will be thanking your lucky stars you did. The authorities cannot help you if they can’t find you.

Purchase Travel Insurance

Purchase Travel Insurance

4. Purchase Travel Insurance – If you are on your vacation but then a situation arises that cuts your trip short, you may have to return home early. This is a perfect reason why travel insurance can be so important.

  • If you need to cancel or reschedule your vacation, an insurance policy will help lessen your disappointment. This is one time when you actually need to read the terms and conditions of your policy. Policies vary widely be company; so read them carefully and consult with your travel agent to determine what situations or occurrences are covered.
Respect Muslim Customs

Western Woman Should Dress Conservatively

5. Adhere to Local Customs – Do not try to force your personal beliefs or opinions on the local people. You may think certain customers are restrictive, cumbersome or downright foolish. Familiarize yourself with their laws and don’t think by loudly announcing your American citizenship this will keep you out of jail. You are guest in this country.

  • Remember the Aretha Franklin song, Respect. Refrain from insulting their culture by ignoring the local customs. Be sure your clothing choices reflect the cultural mores, especially women. Dress conservatively if necessary and behave as though you received some home training as a child. Don’t be the “Ugly America.”

6. Leave the Bling Home – In many countries, Americans and other citizens of western cultures are considered to be wealthy. And frequently, by their standards, you may very well be wealthy. The local people don’t know that you had to save for three years to take this vacation. In their eyes are a rich.

  • So, ladies leave the diamond earrings you got for your anniversary in the jewelry box back home.
  • Gentlemen don’t bring the bling-bling, Rodeo Drive watch you purchased with your bonus check. You’ll only draw attention to yourself and increase your odds of being victimized

7. Bring a “fake” wallet – Inside your secondary wallet, place a few denominations of the local currency, those sample credit cards or ID card offers you get in the mail from AARP, Sierra Club, or another such item.  In place of your name, these read, “Joe Sample”  or “Your Name Here”, but they have the feel and thickness of a real credit card.  To a mugger, at first glance these items inside your “wallet” will appear to be legitimate.  The idea is the toss it to your right and take off running to your left.

Pickpocket in a Crowd

Pickpockets are Clever & Advantageous

Hopefully, the only stories you’ll get to share from vacation or business travel will be fun times sightseeing, eating and drinking or enjoying the local attractions.  But, if circumstances unexpectedly change for the worse, don’t hesitate to err on the side of caution.  And use your sixth sense.  If it feels uncomfortable, then don’t do it.  Always use your common sense when you on vacation; and don’t take unnecessary chances.  And, don’t think it can’t happen to you.




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