Journeying to unfamiliar destinations can expose you to the kind of difficulties you do not want to go through while on the road including robbery, rape, or murder. Tourists often fall prey to perpetrators because they do not prepare properly before venturing on a trip. Let’s analyze some matters you should consider ahead of time in order to prevent your travels from becoming a disaster:
1. Never list your house address on the luggage tag. If on business, put the company’s address on the tag; if visiting friends you can list their address. Use covered luggage tags as well.
2. Stay with your baggage until the luggage has been checked. If you must put your bag down, keep one foot on the handle.
3. Carry noteworthy papers with you; NEVER check anything that you simply cannot afford to lose. Xerox your passport, driver’s license and credit cards.
4. Bring a small flashlight with you. You never know when you’ll suddenly be “in the dark” and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. At nighttime, keep the flashlight by your bed.
5. Make sure that your prescription drug medicines are filled properly and labeled accurately. In some countries certain prescription medicines are forbidden.
6. Never wear anything that projects richness. No expensive chains, pricey watches and rings, luggage, or other goods should be in easy view. Best yet: leave your jewelry at home.
7. If possible travel with only one or two credit cards.
8. Women in particular should never consent to receiving a beverage from a stranger. Keep an eye on your drink at all times.
9. Alter your agenda; try not to come and go at the same times daily.
10. Only stay in a hotel that uses cards to open room doors and make sure your room has a peephole and a deadbolt lock. Fasten the chain and secure the door by driving a rubber stop underneath it.
11. Stay in a room near a stairwell. Never take the elevator if a fire or smoke is discovered. Always stay in a hotel where the doors enter the hallway and not directly from the outside.
12. Do not wear name tags in public.
13. Do not patronize unmarked taxi cabs.
14. Sit in back of the driver so that you can see him, but he cannot see you.
15. Pay the driver upon arriving at your address and while you are still sitting in the vehicle.
16. If you must rent a car, rent only from a respected company. Any operating problems that take place could signal sabotage.
17. Be aware of ‘staged’ car accidents meant to take you off guard.
18. If renting a car, back into your parking spaces to facilitate a quick departure.
19. Park only in well illuminated and well heavily traveled areas.
20. If your mobile phone does not work internationally, consider leasing one that does for the length of your trip.
21. If detained for whatever cause by a government official, ask for identification. If doubtful whether they truly are who they purport to be, tell them that you want to see his superior. Keep your emotions under control.
22. If traveling with children, bring along an updated photo of each child in the event that you become separated from them.
23. Write your child’s name and your hotel telephone number on each card; include a close friend’s or relative’s contact information on the card. Hand a card to each youngster which they will carry with them as long as you are away. Destroy once you have returned home.
24. Talk over with your family what they would do in event of an emergency while away from home, e.g. whom to call, how to reach emergency personnel, etc.
25. Do not talk about travel plans, your room number or any other personal information openly and within earshot of strangers.
26. Bring along a basic first aid kit with bandages, iodine, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, alcohol packets, Dramamine, pepto bismuth, diarrhea medication, etc.
27. Acquaint yourself with train and bus schedules before starting your journey. Have an alternate plan in place in the event your transportation plans change.
28. Do not show your passport in public. Discreetly show important documents to officials only.
29. Consider purchasing portable alarms that emit a loud sound.
30. Be on the lookout for scams on the street. Youngsters operating with adults are notorious pickpockets.
Three Bonus Tips:
31. Never show your cash in public. Exchange funds with reputable and recognized money exchangers only.
32. Have tips readily available for service personnel. Do not rifle through your purse or wallet while in a public place.
33. Consider renting an escort [security] service if traveling through areas where law-breaking is high.
The key to safe travel in any area is situational awareness. Distractions because of baggage, children, hotel personnel, strangers, etc. can put you in danger. Know your local environment and stay in control of every situation. If a crime does occur, contact the authorities — be careful, as in some countries the police is not your friend.
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