The most recent spate of terrorism attacks serve as a reminder that travel is both enlightening and challenging. In today’s world, travel safety and security are now more important than ever. It should be emphasized that no one can guarantee a traveler’s total safety. The following points however are at least some of the precautions that travelers should consider when attending events at home or abroad, and when traveling as part of a group or as individuals.
1. Do your research before you go.
Take the time to search the internet to understand the local risks. Different parts of the world present different types of risks, from health issues to safety issues such as crime, robbery and pick pocketing to issues of terrorism.
2. Get your information from a variety of sources.
In many parts of the world hoteliers are notorious for telling their guests what they think they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Contact local airlines and police departments to corroborate information
3. Do not advertise who you are.
A general rule of tourism is to not stand out. Visitors are often victimized because people think that they can be hurt without consequences. Not standing out in a crowd is essential. Thus, do not speak loudly, especially in a foreign language, dress according to local customs, and frequent restaurants at the times that the locals eat rather than at the hours that you would eat at home.
4. Watch the news.
It is essential that you have some idea about what is occurring in the news. Remember that terrorist groups often use any excuse to commit random acts of terror, and the potential of a conflict causing a spill-over effect on innocent travelers, while unlikely, is possible.
5. Make sure the US embassy knows where you are and if you have a special need.
The US Department of State maintains international travel warnings and advisories. US consulates encourage US citizens to register with them and provide them with a contact number. That way, in case of emergency, the consulate already knows where you are and how to find you.
6. Make sure that someone back home has your itinerary.
Before you leave home give someone your itinerary, a way to contact you, a photocopy of your passport and emergency numbers. If you are a single woman, then take extra precautions and if you are a single man, think before you get into trouble.
Dr. Peter Tarlow is the president of Tourism & More Consulting Services, College Station, Texas.
He offers an online video course on travel safety when going abroad: https://www.udemy.com/travelsafety/?couponCode=Save50.
He also publishes the online journal Tourism Tidbits.