Tuesday, March 26

TRAVEL TUESDAY: SAFETY ABROAD

Traveling outside your own backyard can sometimes be a bit intimidating, but contrary to popular belief, the world isn’t dangerous or unsafe. Quite the opposite. Even tho there are some desperate places and people, even in your own home town, these are by far a minority. In fact, you’re more likely to get into trouble at home than travelling abroad. When you travel abroad, the odds are you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Travelers can, however, become victims of crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. Following these common sense travel tips will help you avoid serious difficulties during your time abroad.

Before You Go

What to Take
  • Safety begins while packing. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress in a way that could mark you as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention, leave it home. 
  • Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.
  • Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to put them each in a different place rather than all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing. Think Rick Steves.
The RFIDtec 75 keeps your passport safe and protected from thieves looking to steal your identity. This slim, durable, lightweight passport holder is fashioned with RFID-safe blocking material. Skimming is the world's latest and greatest form of pick-pocketing. Today all a thief needs to do is to walk past you in a crowd to steal your information. Slipping your passport  and credit cards inside this holder will keep ALL of your information is safe.

  • If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Pack them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage. To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel.
  • Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.
What to Leave Behind
  • Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:
  1. Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry
  2. All unnecessary credit cards
  3. Your Social Security card, library card, and similar items you may routinely carry in your wallet.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.
  • Make photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave this information behind with family or friends.
What to Learn About Before You Go
  • Local Laws and Customs
When you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are the Internet, your travel agent, and the embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries.

Things to Arrange Before You Go

Your Itinerary
Safety experts recommend booking a room from the second to seventh floors above ground level, high enough to deter easy entry from outside, but low enough for fire equipment to reach.


Legal Documents
Leave a current will, insurance documents, and power of attorney with your family or a friend, you can feel secure about traveling and will be prepared for any emergency that may arise while you are away. 
Credit
Make a note of the credit limit on each credit card that you bring, and avoid charging over that limit while traveling. Ask your credit card company how to report the loss of your card from abroad. 1-800 numbers do not work from abroad, but your company should have a number that you can call while you are overseas.



Insurance
Find out if your personal property insurance covers you for loss or theft abroad. Also, check on whether your health insurance covers you abroad. Consider purchasing a policy designed for travelers, and covering short-term health and emergency assistance, as well as medical evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness.

Precautions to Take While Traveling

Safety on the Street
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially aware in areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.


  • Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
  • Try not to travel alone at night.
  • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances. Mr.P drug me through a Black Panther rally at midnight in Times Square. Not his best move.
  • Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.
  • Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
  • Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will: jostle you, ask you for directions or the time, point to something spilled on your clothing, or distract you by creating a disturbance.
  • Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest with your hand resting on it. Walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
  • Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.
  • Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • If you are confronted, don't fight back, give up your valuables.


Safety in Your Hotel

  • Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
  • Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
  • If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.
  • Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. *Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.


Safety on Public Transportation



If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is mentioned in each country’s Country Specific Information in the section about crime.
Taxis
Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.
Trains
Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourist routes is a problem. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains.
If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform of the station. Secure your valuables to the best extent possible.
Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where crime is a serious problem.
Buses
The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses on popular tourist routes. Be aware.


Safety When Driving a Rental Car

  • Keep car doors locked at all times.
  • As much as possible, avoid driving at night. Not being familiar with foreign road signs can be dangerous in the dark.
  • Don't leave valuables in the car. If you must carry things with you, keep them out of sight locked in the trunk, and then take them with you when you leave the car.
  • Don't park your car on the street overnight. If the hotel or municipality does not have a parking garage or other secure area, select a well-lit area.
  • Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car.
  • Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans, offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then steal the rescuers luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you.


How to Handle Money Safely

  • Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.
  • Keep at least one credit card in a separate location. If your cash and credit cards are stolen it's hard to replace them in a foreign country. No cash + vacation = NO FUN.

If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of what happened. After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:
  • Credit cards to the issuing company
  • Airline tickets to the airline or travel agent
  • Passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate



My intentions for sharing this information with you were not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of how to travel safely. The world is a big place and can sometimes be a bit scary for those who are unaware. So BE AWARE. Travel with your eyes open and be conscientious and vigilant about your surroundings at all times.  Make your foreign travel experience a memorable and safe one....ENJOY TRAVELLING, ALWAYS!

...YOU'LL BE GLAD YA DID!

ENJOY!
~THE DOMESTIC CURATOR~
RONDA




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