Shelly and I are talking about an overseas adventure…
But is it safe to travel overseas?
Terrorism and crime have not only escalated in Europe and Israel … but also in Asia, Africa … and even South America.
Plus … hurricanes, earthquakes … even volcanic eruptions.
I won’t let fear and potential danger stop us … and they shouldn’t stop you from traveling either.
But if you plan to travel overseas, it’s wise to take some common-sense precautions…
Here’s my list of 22 must dos and don’ts for traveling overseas:
- If you take prescription medication, make sure it’s legal to possess those drugs in all countries you visit or pass through.
Even if you carry a valid U.S. prescription from your doctor, some legal U.S. drugs – such as prescription narcotics – are illegal in other countries.
Possession of illegal drugs in some countries could land you in prison.
- Check for travel alerts for any countries you plan to visit.
The U.S. Department of State publishes travel advisories and warnings for terrorist threats, natural disasters and other risks.
Keep up on current news and developments while you travel…
And know your airline’s or cruise line’s refund policies in the event you have to cancel travel at the last minute for any reason.
- Make 2 copies of your important travel documents.
This includes passport, visa, vaccination certification, international driver’s license, etc.
Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home…
Take the other copy with you … and keep it in a separate place from the originals.
- Minimize the amount of cash you take with you.
In some countries, the amount of cash you can legally bring in or take out of the country is surprisingly low … and violating the limits could result in being arrested … or having your cash confiscated – or both.
Research this in advance.
Never lie to customs or other authorities about how much cash you are carrying.
- Minimize the number of credit cards you carry … and always know where they are.
One or two cards should be enough … and make sure they are the most secure cards possible.
Never leave you cards or cash – or your ID – unattended in your hotel room or anywhere else.
Make at least 2 copies of your credit card information … and keep the copies in different places.
- Be familiar with the countries and areas you are traveling to and through.
Know the parts of foreign cities that have high crime rates … or that should be avoided for other reasons.
Know any unusual cultural behaviors or customs in the areas you are visiting…
For example, shaking hands, waving, or pointing with one finger – while customary in the U.S. – are forms of insult in some other countries.
Keep 7. Always carry a list of foreign emergency numbers when you travel.
Keep the information in several formats:
- On your cell phone
- On a flash drive
- In written form
The information should include:
- Local police
- Closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Local hospital
- Keep your cell phone with you at all times … and preprogram it with local emergency numbers.
Make sure you have the proper voltage converters that will work with your phone charger … and keep your cell phone charged.
Ideally you should take a spare cell phone with you on your trip … and keep it in a separate, secure place.
- If you are ever in a situation where shooting starts close to where you are, immediately drop to the floor or ground and don’t move until the crisis is over.
If the shooter is close enough to make eye contact with you, playing dead could save your life.
- Contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate in an emergency.
These are your safe havens in an emergency…
Personnel are available 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
- Always carry yourself with confidence in a foreign country.
Look strong … be aware of your surroundings – including people.
Confident-looking people are less likely to be targeted by thieves and other criminals than people who look nervous, unsure or weak.
- Avoid markings on your luggage that identify you as a tourist.
Use a simple colored band or ID tag on your luggage to distinguish it from similar luggage.
Avoid unusual or bright colors – or decals – that will identify you as a foreigner … and hence a target.
- Schedule direct flights whenever possible.
This minimizes the possibility of lost luggage…
It also eliminates the possibility of making stops – or plane changes – in dangerous areas.
- Don’t hang around luggage carousels after picking up your luggage.
Thieves, terrorists – and other criminals – regularly hang out in these areas looking for victims.
- Go to the secured area of the airport as soon as you check in.
Airport entrance ways, restaurants and shops in unsecured areas are potential terrorist targets.
Be aware of people following you or watching you closely.
Stay away from unattended bags and packages.
- Avoid places in the areas you are visiting that could make you an easy target.
Use common sense…
Stay away from parks, bars, seedy sections of cities – especially after dark.
Make a mental note of safe havens – police stations, hotels, hospitals … and especially the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Learn a few phrases in the local language before you travel internationally.
Certain phrases – such as these – can be a life saver:
- Where is the bathroom
- I need help
- Please call the police
Buy and learn how to use cell phone apps that provide instant translation.
- Don’t flash your wealth.
Remember that in many countries, middle-class Americans are viewed as extremely wealthy.
Don’t compound the economic inequality by wearing expensive jackets or watches or designer shoes … or by carrying an expensive handbag.
Needless to say … never flash cash or a wallet full of credit cards.
- Wear conservative clothes.
Avoid revealing or tight-fitting clothes – especially in Muslim areas.
Also avoid tank tops, shorts and sleeveless tops.
Avoid wearing white in Asia – it’s a funeral color.
Black and dark blue colors in Africa attract biting and diseased insects.
Neon and other bright colors attract unwanted attention … you don’t want to be conspicuous…
- Keep in touch with family and friends when you travel overseas.
Let them know where you are … and make sure they know how to contact local police and hospitals in the areas you are visiting.
- Follow safe hotel protocol.
Book a room on the 3rd, 4th or 5th floor near an emergency exit. This will protect you from street-level shootings … and enable you to evacuate quickly in event of a fire.
Leave lights on when you leave your room … and leave a radio or TV on as well.
Don’t leave valuables in your room when you are away.
Limit maid service … Consider keeping the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door the entire time of your stay.
Maids can and do steal from guest rooms – especially in poorer countries.
If someone knocks on your hotel room door, don’t open until you know who it is.
Make sure your hotel room door is always locked and bolted when you are inside.
- Only drink sealed bottled water from trusted vendors.
Local water supplies in many foreign countries can make you sick…
Avoid using ice cubes unless you freeze them yourself from bottled water.
Follow these practical guidelines and safety tips … and enjoy your next vacation or business trip overseas!
What do you think? Write me at [email protected]