Travel Tips

Travel Wise – Personal Security Tips

Seeing the sights in Milan or finalizing negotiations with a subcontractor in Kuwait have different implications for your security. TrainingSolutions custom-designs workshops for your specific requirements. Before you work or travel abroad, you need to understand what makes you vulnerable and to take positive steps to limit those vulnerabilities. Traveling wise begins with knowing how to avoid security incidents and being prepared for potential crises. With TrainingSolutions learn how to plan for and deal with the specific types of risks that your trip entails.

Here are a few general travel tips that are a good starting point to strengthening your personal security. Contact TrainingSolutions, and learn more about how you can be better prepared for a safe trip.

Before You Go

Contact Details
When you book your ticket, write down the contact details for the airline and/ or travel agent for all of your destinations (and your place of departure). Note also the contact details of all the key people and places you’re aiming to visit. Make extra copies of important notes or documents (contact details, passport, blood type and other medical information), and keep these separately from your originals as a simple security precaution.

Contingency Plans
For all travelers, it is best practice to make a simple and reliable communication contingency plan with 2 responsible people ­ so that the first person you manage to reach automatically passes on information to the other. By keeping the system simple, you can concentrate on your safety and security.

The plan should be shaped by the type of journey you’re making and the security risks at your destination. For example, if you are going on a mixed business and pleasure trip to relatively safe Istanbul , there’s no need to inform your contacts of your every move. But if you are robbed or you lose your wallet, then your contact persons can block your credit cards and transfer money to your hotel. Because they have copies of your passport, medical details, insurance documents, and information about money matters, small crises like this can easily be dealt with.

If you are going to be in, or near, a high risk zone, the plan will need to be more precise – but you can still keep it simple. For example, your contact persons should have your schedule and you should inform them of any changes.They should both know what to do in case of emergency. Some countries are risky enough to warrant a coded system for delivering crucial information. Though bodyguards and other protective measures are often used in these types of countries, you still need to be aware of your security for all those ‘worst case scenarios’ that could just happen in high risk countries. You cannot delegate your personal security.

Country Requirements 
All countries require valid travel documents, but many developing countries have additional requirements as well. Specific vaccinations are the most common of these. Even where vaccinations are not mandatory, it’s worth checking with your doctor if they are advisable: it’s in your best interests to protect yourself before you travel. Another common requirement is that your passport be valid from several months beyond your date of departure from the country that you are traveling to. Carry extra passport-size photos because many countries require them for documents. Some countries require that you have, or exchange, a certain amount of money upon entry. In corrupt countries, good preparation will reduce the “fee” (also known as a bribe) that you will have to pay, and in countries that are not especially corrupt, it will make the difference between your paying a fine or not. In sum, you need to “know before you go.”

Take With You

Door Wedges/ Doorstops
Plastic door wedges/ doorstops can prevent an intruder from entering your hotel room, or at the very least greatly slow him down. It’s a lightweight but effective device to protect you, especially when you are most vulnerable ­ asleep, in the shower, or getting dressed. Smaller versions are useful for securing windows.

Secret Stash
Carry your money and other smaller valuables in several different places on your person and/ or among your possessions. If you are robbed, you won’t be left empty-handed. At the same time, the amount in the most obvious place – whether it be your money belt, wallet, or purse – should be realistic so that the thieves will not suspect anything. Many thieves know about money belts around your neck or waist, so try ones that go round your arm or leg, or use a money belt that looks like an ordinary leather belt. Remember, however, that money is just money whereas your passport, with someone else’s photo in it, represents a chance for a better life. That is a strong motivation for the would-be thief, so your passport should be among your most carefully guarded possessions.

Ordinary-looking Laptop Carrier
Computer-cases alert thieves to their valuable contents (the same applies to the special cases for cameras, video cameras, etc.). Carry your valuable electronic equipment in ordinary-looking cases.

Flashlight
Keep a battery-powered flashlight nearby at all times, including when you go to bed. Headlamps leave your hands free while heavier handheld models can double as a weapon. It’s sensible to attach a whistle to your flashlight.

While Traveling

Know Your Bags
There are no fail-proof ways to protect your luggage but you can take a few simple measures that greatly reduce your chances of being robbed. Know how many bags you are carrying and recount them regularly. Use covered identification tags, and in addition, leave your contact details inside your luggage in case the outside tags get detached. If possible, use your office details instead of any private information. Use locks and consider using extra protective devices such as luggage straps.

Keep your luggage in front of you, or better still stand over it (keeping it beside or behind you leaves it too exposed to criminals). In crowded places, wear your backpack in front of you. Your body language at all times should indicate that you are aware of your belongings and surroundings.

Wear a Wedding Ring
Deterrents come in many forms and sizes, and a wedding ring is one of the smallest. For both men and women, wearing a wedding ring can deter many would-be- approachers – and if it doesn’t, you can point it out them.

Select the Right Hotel Room
From a security point of view, the ideal location for a hotel room is between the 3rd and 6th floors, facing the hotel’s inner courtyard, and closest to the elevator/ stairs. Even if you can’t or don’t want to be as high up as the 3rd floor, try to avoid ground floor rooms, which are more accessible to intruders. The 6th floor should ideally be the upper limit, because in most countries fire ladders don’t extend higher than this. The inner courtyards of hotels tend to be more closely monitored than the exterior of the building. Especially if you stay on one of the lower floors, a room facing the inner courtyard is a good option. Although it may be noisier, a room near the elevator/ stairs allows you to exit quickly. Don’t accept a room next the emergency exits because these can be an easy way for criminals to access the building undetected. Remember to bring a door wedge/ doorstop.

Be Aware and Take Precautions
The best protective device available to you is your brain. Being aware of your belongings and surroundings will greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim while you are traveling or working abroad. If, for example, you notice a family videotaping their happy memories across the street from the bank from which you’re about to withdraw money, make sure that you hide your pin-code from the long lenses of the video camera. The family may really just be having a nice day out, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Likewise, taking precautions decreases your exposure to threats. For example, it takes a maximum of 12 seconds (and experts do it in 5 seconds or less) for someone to remove a purse or jacket off the hook of a toilet stall. Instead of ruining your trip before you leave the airport departure hall, place your purse around your neck or put your jacket on top of your luggage to stop the theft from happening at all.

TrainingSolutions is your ticket to safer travels – contact us today to learn more.