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Posts Tagged ‘Safety Tips Abroad’

Explosives in Santiago

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Be Aware while in Santiago

Danger can Happen Quickly

Be Vigilant of Dangerous Situations

Travelers and residents have been asked to be extra vigilant as they move around the capital city of Santiago.  This request comes after seven people were injured on Monday when an explosive device detonated in a crowded subway station.  Authorities are viewing it as a terrorist act given the placement of the bomb at a fast-food restaurant near a popular shopping district in Las Condes.



No Travel Warnings Issued
Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile with Andes Mountains

Chile is one of the safest countries in South America.  Extreme acts of violence are quite rare. Recently,  President Michelle Bachelet has seen a drop in her popularity.  So the escalation in acts of violence may be the result of discord among anarchists groups. However, no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the bombings.

There have been no travel warnings by the US Embassy, although there has been a rise in the number of explosives in Santiago. As such, if you are traveling to the Santiago region, you should increase your awareness while moving around the city center. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you are traveling.


Previous Acts of Violence

Back in July, an explosive device denoted outside a church but thankfully no one was hurt.  Another device was nearby but authorities were able to defuse it.  According to ABC News, at least 28 bombs have been found across Santiago so far this year. Many have not exploded while others have caused injury. Authorities have also reported an increase in the number of fires set to public transportation vehicles. Due to the upsurge in occurrence and the randomness, the potential harm to citizens is a concern.


Know Before You go

If you will be traveling to Santiago, then you should check the US Department of State website for travel advisory updates.

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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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Travel Safety when Overseas

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Safety Essentials when Traveling Abroad

This is the second part of the three-part series on travel safety when you go abroad.

Danger can Happen Quickly

Unexpected Dangers when Traveling

You’re probably thinking that you just won’t go to any of country that is unsafe or has a questionable political situation.  Then, you won’t have to worry about your safety concerns. You can just go about your day as though you  were in your home city.  It’s not anything you’d ever have to worry over.  besides, travelers would not deliberately place themselves in harms way, right? Well, perhaps they don’t have a choice. Travel safety is a serious matter. A disturbance could happen anytime, anywhere.

Here are some likely situations that could result in you traveling to a dangerous region, unintentionally.

  • You may work for a multi-national corporation with offices located around the world. Your boss has asked you to take a business trip overseas. You arrive in the country and head to the facility. However, your driver has informed you that striking workers have blocked the bridge that takes you to your company’s plant.  It’s the only route.  Tensions have risen to the point that police have been called and then violent demonstrations break out. So now you are unable to get to this international office to work.
  • Tensions Rise

    Government Instability

    You have decided to take a vacation to an emerging country. You may be seeking an off-the-beaten path vacation or engaging in volunteer work. While you are visiting, an unexpected event happens that puts you smack dab in the middle of the chaos. You wanted an adventure but rebels in the streets shooting machine guns was not on the list.

  • An uprising could cause travel delays

    An Uprising Could Endanger You

    You are vacationing in a lovely, quiet destination, and then an international incident occurs in another part of the world. Worldwide, airports shift into attack mode, increasing their alert procedures. As a result, flight delays and cancellations cause havoc with international travel; the authorities cancel events at large venues, and curfews are instituted. So much for your peaceful getaway.

  • You teach English in a foreign country. You love the work but begin to notice a change in attitude toward you from many locals when you walk about. You’re not sure what has changed but there is a noticeable anti-American sentiment of late. You start feeling a bit leery when going out to the markets and shops so you ask your native friends to go with you whenever you leave your apartment.

In the last of our 3-part series, I’ll share safety tips that can help you manage if a dangerous situation arises when you are traveling.

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Travel Safety in Dangerous Countries

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Safety Essentials for Travel to Dangerous Regions

Terrorism Presents a Danger to Travelers

Terrorism Incidents Creates Unpredictable to Travelers

If you travel frequently enough, you are bound to have situations arise that may be alarming. The world is not always a safe place; and some parts are downright dangerous. Extreme examples include political protests, terrorist attacks and violent clashes between police and demonstrators. In some countries, danger can be all too common.

  • In many European cities such as Italy and Spain, tourists are frequent targets for pickpockets and muggings.
  • In countries that border the Mediterranean, for example France or Greece, certain races, religions and ethnic groups have been victims of personal assaults.
  • In parts of the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, as well as many countries in West Africa, people who are perceived to be gay, lesbian or transgendered have been attacked or killed.
  • In the Middle East, gender-based violence is not uncommon.

    Gay Couples Must use Caution

    Gay Couples Beware

North America is not without its own safety issues.

  • Travelers in the United Sates fall victim to unethical taxi drivers, random drive-by shootings or general acts of armed robbery and theft.
  • You may get caught in the crossfire a drug war or be exposed to kidnapping or theft in Mexico and throughout Central America.

So what is a traveler to do?

Whether you are traveling to European cities, the Middle East, Africa or metropolitan areas in North America, you should use good judgment, common sense and become informed.

When I as in Paris, I really wanted to go to a jazz club. So we got dressed and took the metro, transferring once.  When we arrived at the metro stop, we exited the subway only to discover that the neighborhood was fairly deserted and quite rundown. It was late at night and the walk to the jazz club was about half a mile. After assessing the situation, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk. We regrettably, re-entered the metro station and headed back to our apartment.

Think about Your Safety

Think about Your Safety when Traveling

Some friends had booked a Nile cruise that was scheduled to depart during the height of the violent clashes and riots in Egypt. They did some research, discussed the risks and then reached a conclusion that they would go on the cruise. When they embarked on the cruise, they pretty much had the run of the ship. Approximately, 70% of the other passengers had decided to cancel.

My brother’s friend Bob was scheduled to leave on vacation to Asia several years ago. However, after watching news stories of political unrest and kidnappings, he decided to cancel his trip.

These situations show that everyone is different; so you have to do what is right for you, your family and travel companions.  In part 2 of this 3 part series, I’ll outline some emergency situations you may find yourself in when you travel abroad.



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