Hazard Brief: Travel Safety
When traveling abroad, the odds are in your favor you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Improvements in safety and security have decreased accident rates for flying 50% in the last 20 years.
Travelers can be victimized by crime and violence or unexpected difficulties. A stolen American passport can be sold on the black market for anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000 (U.S.) and are often used by criminal to commit identity theft. The vast majority of thefts include purse snatching, pick-pocketing and thefts from unsecured hotel rooms and vehicles.
While on vacation, your home can be a primary target for criminals. In the U.S., approximately 1.4 million homes are burglarized each year. Most home burglaries occur during the month of August, when homeowners are away on vacation.
Prevention and safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress so as to mark yourself as an affluent tourist. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and watches. Leave anything you’d hate to lose at home, even a wedding ring.
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. Avoid carrying valuables. If you must, find places to conceal them. Your passport, any cash and credit cards are most secure in a hotel safe. When carrying them yourself, put them in different places. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets. A pouch or money belt under your clothes is safest.
Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen. Make photocopies of your airline tickets, driver’s license and credit cards to take with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home - pack the other in a place separate from where you carry the originals. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.
Before you travel - Check the U.S. State Department website for travel warnings and country specific information. Entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special information about driving and road conditions are also provided along with emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates.
Choose smaller hotels with reception or concierge desks near the front that are well-staffed. Room numbers and other personal information should never be spoken aloud or displayed. Use valet parking, even if it costs a little more. Ask the hotel staff to escort you to your room at night, especially if you are alone.
Request a room near the elevators, away from emergency exits. Don’t ever leave a “Please Make Up This Room” sign on your hotel room door. It lets everyone know you’re gone. Conversely, the “Do Not Disturb” sign makes the room look occupied. Put it up, and call housekeeping instead.
Before venturing out, study a map first. Dress down. Be most alert when getting on or off public transportation. Carry the minimum amount of cash and a single credit card. Do not store valuables in a car's trunk or glove compartment. If you must ask for directions, approach families or women. Avoid areas with high concentrations of bars and nightclubs, especially at night. Do not consume food or drinks you have left unattended or accept food or drinks from "friendly" people. Do not leave a bar or other facility with a stranger.
Avoid responding in kind to verbal harassment. Don’t get into any type of physical confrontation. Immediately report any suspicious activity to police. If you are with or become a victim of sexual assault abroad, please contact the U.S. Embassy immediately. Rent a mobile phone or bring your own. Put local police on speed dial.
For more tips and solutions on how to be safe when you travel, join PrepareWell. Visit our Member Benefits page today.
For additional information, visit:
U.S. State Department
U.S. Department of Transportation
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