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The Ultimate Travel Security Guide

There are many different reasons why people travel. For some, travel is done strictly for leisure, as in a family vacation or a long-awaited vacation for one. Others do so more frequently out of necessity, as in business for example. Regardless of the reason, travel may potentially be associated with a number of situations that are dangerous, frightening or otherwise harmful. These threats to one’s security can occur domestically or when traveling internationally. When planning a trip, a person should know what to do to ensure that he or she remains safe and secure and does not fall victim to the actions of criminals. Security measures must begin even before the actual travel date and should continue until the trip comes to an end and the traveler returns safely back home.

While Preparing to Travel

  • Check for any current travel warnings, which are meant to inform travelers of areas with long-term conditions that make the area unstable and/or dangerous for Americans.
  • In addition to travel warnings, people should also check for any travel alerts, which indicate regions experiencing short-term conditions that may endanger citizens of the U.S.
  • If planning to travel internationally, consider buying a plain cover to conceal an American passport, particularly if traveling to areas where hostility towards Americans is high.
  • One should do their homework and learn about local customs and laws before traveling to any foreign country in order to avoid potentially dangerous altercations.
  • Travelers should give a family member or trusted friend who is not traveling with them a copy of important items such as their airplane ticket, passport, and driver’s license in the event that the original items are lost or stolen.
  • A second copy of these items should be kept and taken on the trip for the same reason.
  • Create a travel itinerary and leave it with family.

In-Transit Security Tips

  • Never accept, agree to watch, or otherwise handle a suitcase or any type of package that belongs to a stranger.
  • A traveler should never ask a stranger to "keep an eye on" or hold onto his or her luggage unattended.
  • A person should never part from his or her luggage or leave it unattended.
  • If fly internationally on a foreign airline, American travelers should avoid speaking as much as possible or doing anything that could indicate that they are U.S. citizens.
  • Avoid giving strangers personal information while traveling on airplanes, trains or buses.

In the Hotel

  • Travelers should keep their room number private by asking the front desk to write down the room number during check-in, instead of saying it out loud.
  • Stay in rooms that are no higher than the sixth floor, which is often the maximum reach for fire-department ladders.
  • Check all of the locks in the hotel room, including the windows and locks to adjoining rooms, to ensure that they are locking as they should.
  • For additional security, use deadbolts or whatever type of secondary locks that are available while in the room.
  • Do not immediately open the door if someone who appears to be hotel staff calls or knocks on the door and claims they must enter into the room for any unsolicited purpose. Always verify with the front desk first.
  • Know the location of stairwells, elevators and other exits in the event of an emergency.

During the Trip

  • Know what the area’s authorized taxi cabs look like in advance to avoid being picked up by thieves or other criminals.
  • Try to dress like and otherwise blend in with the locals to avoid standing out as a tourist.
  • Keep expensive jewelry to a minimum to avoid bringing attention to oneself or giving off an image of wealth.
  • Use a money belt and keep it concealed as close to the skin as possible.
  • Make purchases with traveler’s checks or credit cards and avoid using or carrying cash as much as possible.
  • To prevent passport theft, travelers should carry it either in a front pocket or in a hidden pouch.
  • A person should request a receipt if the hotel’s policy requires that they retain the passport.
  • When traveling overseas, know the location and contact information of the American Embassy.
  • Stay in areas that are well-lit and avoid going out alone at night as much as possible.
  • Traveler’s must stay aware of their surroundings and any suspicious behavior or activities from people around them.
  • In the event of a simple robbery never attempt to fight or resist a thief.
  • Do not accept letters or packages from strangers.
  • Reduce the risk of being drugged by never leaving food or drinks unattended.
  • When using a car, keep the doors, windows and trunk locked.
  • Be cautious of anyone approaching the vehicle at a stop as carjacking’s are common in certain countries.