Traveling is an especially sensitive time for maintaining good personal security. Whether you’re going to another town or another continent, here are some of the reasons you’re more at risk when you’re on the road:
- You’re not the first person to have traveled there, criminals know where people typically get lost and what kinds of attacks or scams they can run on them.
- Tourist heavy areas such as monuments, business districts, and major attractions are the first places most people go to look when they travel, it’s also the first place terrorists look for attacks.
- Political and religious gatherings and protests can be both a breeding ground for and a target area of violence, these often happen in major squares and business districts where you must go.
- You may not be immediately aware of when you stray into a ‘bad part’ of town, but you will likely stand out from those who do know the area well and may target you for a crime.
- Common customs and courtesies which you aren’t necessarily aware of when you go to a new area will make you stand out, but when you don’t use them or use the wrong ones this may endanger you.
There are plenty of reasons, such as these, why traveling can be dangerous, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts from the GPS Team as a starter to improving your travel security.
Do research on the area you’re going to.
Focus your research on crime trends, terrorist incidents, upcoming events, and local political issues which will tell you how much of a concern security is in this area.
Do use official taxis or other official driving services.
Avoid unregistered taxis or people offering you a ride. App based services, such as Uber, can also be a convenient way to move around without significantly adding to your personal security risks.
Do keep an open means of communication at all times.
Best practice is to have a second phone for foreign SIM cards so you can spend less money on making calls locally, but make sure you always have a phone available. In an emergency you won’t care about your cell phone bill.
Do use your situational awareness effectively.
Get a feel for what typical activities are among the people and places in which you’re traveling. When you spot changes in this, this may be a good sign to leave the area.
Do have emergency contact information available.
This means both for local emergency services, or when you’re out of your home country, an embassy or consulate. Many countries will allow you to register with the local embassy online so in the event of an emergency they can contact you or offer assistance.
Do not rely only on a paper map.
Using a plastic or laminated map may be more useful in the rain and they’re easier to draw routes on which can be erased later. Additional good practice is to take a high quality picture of a map on your phone so you do not have to pull out a large map in public which labels you as an outsider.
Do not loiter in public transportation areas.
Public transportation areas, such as airports, train stations, and bus stops are common targets for crimes and terrorist attacks. Minimizing the time you spend in these areas may lessen your risk.
Do not go to public gatherings that are political or religious in nature.
These are often an area where violence starts or is targeted toward. While going through or near these events may be unavoidable, it is best to find alternate routes or change the time at which you go.
Do not wear clothing or accessories that makes you a target.
Flashy or expensive accessories and clothing can make you a target of a crime or terrorist incident, or it may just mean your taxi is going to cost a lot more. One key item to avoid wearing is lapel pins with national flags or any type of military or national service insignia.
Do not go to tourist attractions at peak hours.
Tourist attractions such as landmarks, nightlife destinations, and museums are common targets for both crimes ad violent incidents. Avoid these whenever possible, especially at the busiest times of the day.
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Be proactive, not reactive. We wish you a safe traveling.
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