Given the incidents of the past year, especially the high profile terrorist attacks in Mumbai; we are getting more requests for safety information from those traveling abroad. While there are many things to know with regard to travel safety, we always remind people that your best strategy will usually only be as good as your ability to communicate with those that can be of help to you if a problem were to occur. People can only come to your aid or send help if they know where you are!!
We also remind folks that they have a greater chance of being caught up in political upheaval abroad (Thailand and Greece within the last month), or on the wrong side of a natural disaster (China), than a victim of terrorism.
Here are some simple things you can do before your next trip abroad:
Good planning is always the best place to start. The State Department offers country specific information to include information on current crime trends and sociopolitical considerations. States site also has a good “Tips for Traveling Abroad” page!
Their “Current Travel Alerts” page describes “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.” If you are traveling to a country on this list, it is vital that you take all recommended precautions and employ sound strategy!!
You have the option of registering your travel plans with the U.S Embassy or Consulate in the country you will be visiting. Your government can only be of help to you if they know your whereabouts. Well vetted tour operators and guides in the country you are visiting will also often register with the local Embassy or Consulate.
If your mobile phone is not compatible with GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) we recommend you purchase a prepaid mobile phone upon your arrival. This will allow you to make internal calls at a reasonable rate, and give you the ability to send text messages anywhere in the world should the need occur.
Enter your two best in country contacts into the mobile’s phone book. Additionally, you should take the time to enter the Embassy or Consulates number too. If you can, update your State Department profile with your new local mobile number. Keep the phone charged and when in developing nations, which often experience intermittent power outages, a vehicle cigarette lighter adapter is worth investing in too.
Our consultants at Security, Survival Training Consulting, Inc, also recommend you carry a small first aid kit with you at all times. This should include some water purification tablets, electrolyte powder and one or two energy bars. If you take prescription medication, think about including a three day supply. Do not assume that you will be back at your hotel at the end of each day tour. Even a vehicle breakdown, especially in Third World countries, can get between you and your belongings. A small flashlight is also worth including.