Personal Security When Traveling
Basic Security Measures
Traveling is one of the highlights of most families, but a lot of people have second thoughts because the news is full of stories about how dangerous the world is. The fact is, traveling throughout the world is very safe. Just take the staff of ASP, between all of us, we have over 200 years of experience traveling and have set foot on every continent. Even though we are experienced, there are still safety precautions that all of us take before we head out on a trip. There are several basic measures that can enhance your personal security when traveling, ensuring you have a happy and joyous trip. These include:
1. Traveling in pairs or in a small group. Just like the old adage safety in numbers; this is a personal security best practice. If you are out seeing the sights while on travel, either on vacation or business, it is recommended that you use the buddy system in order to avoid becoming a target.
2. Pre-designate a location to meet if separated from your group. Have a plan set up before you go out for the day. You can use technology to your benefit here; there are many apps on the market you can use to locate your family and friends incase you end up separated.
3. Let someone else know where you are going. Especially if you are going out alone, we all remember the movie 127 hours! Don’t lose a limb just because you didn’t let someone know where you were headed!
4. Reduce exposure to crime by avoiding isolated, poorly lit areas and by concealing high value personal property. At ASP, we recommend that you do not wear any jewelry and keep your valuables in your front pocket.
5. Understand there may be heightened risk associated with religious sites, holidays, political events, high crime areas, and venues with large crowds and poor security.
6. Be alert to local threats identified by law enforcement agencies.
7. Stay away from known trouble spots or disreputable places.
8. Avoid open-air cafes in threatened areas.
9. Identify an exit route to be used in an emergency.
10. Notice objects that might conceal an improvised explosive device such as abandoned backpacks or unusual items in trash receptacles.
Here are some specific tips for travelers heading overseas for an international adventure:
1. Check the CDC website and check to see that you have all of the required vaccinations for your trip. This will also help you understand if there are any health concerns of the countries you are planning to visit. Many countries require vaccinations prior to your arrival, so make sure you know what is required and that you are immunized prior to your departure.
2. Make electronic copies of your documents prior to your departure. We at ASP also recommend making an electronic backup of your important documents. Email the file to yourself and keep it in your inbox so you can access the information from your smart phone or other device should your original documents get lost, damaged, or stolen. Here is a list of documents that we recommend you copy:
►Medical insurance card
►Do not carry everything together. Take only the cash and credit cards you think you will need for the day. Separate the money and IDs you are taking out with you on different spots on your person. This tip will keep you from losing everything if you are robbed. Keep any cash, credit cards, IDs you won’t be using in your hotel room safe.
►Don’t carry things in your back pocket. Pick pocketing is a common scam around the world, and yes tourists are prime targets.
►Don’t be a hero. If you are the victim of a robbery, don’t be a hero; give up your belongings. Your cash, credit cards, and IDs are not worth injury or death. Once you are out of danger, report the incident to the nearest police station. If your travel documents were stolen, proceed to your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to get new travel documents.
►Avoid using your credit card. Credit card fraud is on the rise globally and criminals are always looking for new identity theft victims. Avoid being a victim of identity theft and pay for everything you can in cash.
Now that you are prepared to head out and enjoy the day, here are some considerations that you want to follow when using public transportation:
1. Vary your mode of commercial travel. Look into what types of public transportation is available prior to your trip.
2. Select major hubs that might have better security.
3. Do not loiter. If you are buying a bus, metro, or train ticket, purchase your ticket and move to the platform to board.
4. Be vigilant to suspicious behavior of other passengers. If you see something, say something. If you see someone acting suspicious, report that person to transportation authorities.
5. Watch for unattended bags or items consistent with an IED threat. Again, if you see something suspicious report it immediately.
Considerations for the Use of Taxis:
► Look for legitimate taxi company markings. Every country I have traveled to (over a hundred), there where people offering rides claiming they are “private” taxis. Do not accept these rides. Use the marked and metered taxis.
► If a license is viewable, match the photo on the license to the driver. If the picture is not the same, calmly exit the taxi and find another taxi.
► Do not always use the same taxi, as you do not want the taxi driver to learn your schedule.
► Do not let a stranger direct you to a specific cab. You should always be in control of picking the taxi you use.
► Ensure the taxi is licensed and has safety equipment (seatbelts at a minimum).
► Specify the route you want the taxi to follow. If at any time during the ride you feel uncomfortable, tell the taxi driver to pull over in a populated area and exit the taxi.
► Do not accept drinks from the taxi driver, it could be laced with a drug.
Sexual Assault Prevention:
► Be alert. Don’t assume that you are always safe. Think about your safety everywhere. Your best protection is avoiding dangerous situations.
► Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, leave.
► Always walk, drive, and park your car in well-lit areas.
► Walk confidently and at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic.
► Walk close to the curb. Avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys.
► Wear clothes and shoes that allow freedom of movement.
► Walk to your car with keys in your hand.
► If you have car trouble, raise the hood and stay inside your car. If a stranger wants to help, have him or her call for help. Don’t leave your car.
► Keep your car doors locked and never pick up hitchhikers.
► Make sure all windows and doors in your home are locked, especially if you are home alone.
► Never give the impression that you are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door.
► If a stranger asks to use your phone, have him wait outside while you make the call.
► If you come home and find a door or window open or signs of forced entry, don’t go in. Go to the nearest phone and call local law enforcement authorities.