Summer Travel: 8 Tips to Protect Yourself Abroad
Dubai. Cartagena. Jerusalem. As summer approaches, exotic global destinations beckon. For many, exploring cultures that are colorful, distant, and sometimes even dangerous is a part of wanderlust. Getting there carries its own set of risks. Arriving – and embracing new experiences – carry others.
You can linger in Marrakech souks after sunset, lose yourself in local Balinese festivals, and let your hair down with a few glasses of wine at lunch in Greece’s Porto Heli. You can have it all – and do not need to be afraid when you travel this summer. Just be informed – and know when, where, why, and how to be careful. Start with these tips.
Top 4 Crimes Affecting Travelers Abroad
Be aware of the following crimes that are most likely to impact world travelers.
1. Pickpocketing: Though pickpocketing is the most widely known form of crime targeting tourists and foreign nationals, the simple precautions that can be used to stop it are often ignored. Avoiding the stealth and craftiness of pickpockets requires attention to detail and awareness. Those who display electronic devices or money in public are further susceptible to these crimes. A common tactic used by pickpockets is to create a distraction or diversion, often with the aid of accomplices, in order to swiftly get away with a stolen item without the owner even knowing. By securing your valuables on your person, being aware of your surroundings, and securing your personal space, these crimes can be avoided.
2. Crimes Involving Cars: You can easily become a target if you are driving your own car in another country. In these instances, a person may approach a vehicle if windows are rolled down and quickly steal something. Traffic and congestion make it easy for perpetrators on foot to make an easy escape. Additionally, when driving in low-populated areas, especially at night, foreign nationals can be an easy target for vehicle theft. It is important to store valuable items in a concealed or hard-to-see place while driving and to avoid driving in unknown areas at night when possible.
3. Taxi Extortion: For foreign nationals using taxis abroad, it is important to learn and observe the local customs associated with them. Travelers are particularly at risk when hailing a taxi on their own, or using unlicensed and unregistered taxis. In some cases, drivers are associated with robbers, who together set people up to be robbed. These incidents can be avoided by using a hotel or phone service to request a taxi, and not hailing a cab while alone.
4. Use of Drugs to Perpetrate Crimes: An often overlooked type of crime is the use of drugs to carry out other crimes. In places such as Brazil, it is common for bartenders to be in cooperation with others in order to place drugs in drinks or food to easily carry out other crimes. It is important to note that this practice does not only occur in run-down bars or neighborhoods, but in affluent and tourist-heavy places as well. The best way to avoid this crime is to always watch a bartender pour your drink, avoid standing out, keep a hand over your drink when in conversation, and be extremely mindful of your surroundings.
Remain alert and aware of your surroundings. Research the security concerns of the countries and neighborhoods you are planning to visit, especially if you are a first-time visitor or will not be meeting family or friends at that place. The Overseas Security Advisory Council provides a country report on the general crime and safety concerns in each country.
Top 4 Ways to Protect Yourself Abroad
To help assure your safety and security abroad, be proactive before and while traveling.
1. Passport Protection: The most important thing to guard while abroad is your passport. Not only are passports essential to your stay in and return from a country, but they are actively sought by individuals for theft. Make several copies of your passport prior to leaving, and give one to a trusted individual. Keep other copies separate while traveling abroad in case a piece of luggage or bag is stolen. Whether or not to keep your passport on your person is a situational question. Assess your surroundings and determine where the safest place for your passport will be, whether in a safe at a hotel or in a secured bag.
2. State Department STEP Program: The State Department has created a “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP) in order to allow individuals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. The program is free and allows you to receive important information regarding your destination and help the embassy and family contact you in an emergency.
3. Identify Essential Locations: While traveling abroad, it is beneficial to locate and know where the nearest hospital, embassy, and emergency centers are located in case of an emergency or crisis situation. Along those lines, be aware of what the State Department can and cannot do for you in a crisis.
4. Education: Take time to read and understand local customs, rules, or behaviors that are important to observe. More often than not, it is best for you to observe those practices out of respect and safety.
Get Informed – Then Have Fun
Inconveniences and unknowns are common when you travel. Some carry risks – risks you wouldn’t take if you knew their potential outcome. Before embarking on a trip this summer, take the extra time to look into the details. In return, you’ll be able to savor the wonders and surprises of the world and come home safe to plan your next adventure.
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