You Can’t Defend Yourself Enough When Traveling…
I have traveled all over the world for over 25 years and I know there is plenty of advice out there regarding safety tips for people traveling off and on, or those of us who travel all the time. I have been on many web sites, blogs, and read plenty of books. At the end of the day it all comes down to one very important and manageable situation and behavior. You need to do what will work for you and will keep you within your comfort zone.
Here are some tips that have worked very well for me:
1. Passport and Important Documents
All over the world you should have access to your email account. One way to get to your most important travel documents when you have to is to scan your documents, i.e. passport, airline ticket, drivers’ license, and then send them to yourself by email. Also, include phone numbers of your credit card company in the email. In case you lose your documents, or they get stolen, you can access your email account and have this important information right there. If you need a replacement, you can forward this email to the officer at the US consulate or embassy.
2. Emergency Numbers
Emergencies always happen to the guy next to you? Well, I personally doubt that and you should have the phone numbers of your credit card companies, airline, etc stored in your cell phone. Also add the phone number of one or two US consulates/embassies to your emergency phone list. And don’t forget the number of your alarm company back home.
3. Travel Credit Cards and Money
When I travel I always carry a second billfold with me. One, which is in my back pocket in case I am approached, and the second one which I hide in a secure place. Usually the bad guys are looking for fast cash and credit cards. So hand them the fake billfold. Some time ago I applied for a credit card to take on my trips (for the fake billfold). The trick here is that I never activated the card. It is an official credit card from a major bank, has an actual up to date expiration date on it, and is signed. I asked a family member to sign the card, this way our signatures will not match when you later dispute the charges. I also carry about $50+ in cash and/or foreign currencies with me. Add some real or fake family photos to it and you are ready to go.
4. Call Your Credit Card Company (for the real card)
Prior to your departure I recommend that you call your credit card company and inform them about the dates that you travel, destination (i.e. cities or country), and how much you might spend. Credit card companies monitor your activities! If there are expenses outside your regular spending pattern, they will call the number on file to find out what is going on, or simply decline the charges. If your credit card is lost or stolen, and someone is starting to spend on your card somewhere else, they will know and block the card.
5. Hotel Rooms
I have never experienced any problems with theft in my hotel room. I either use the hotel safe or hide my valuable somewhere in the room. Take some tape with you and tape important items in a plastic bag under a drawer or on the back of a night stand. I also put the “Do Not Disturb” sign out. I don’t need a fresh towel or soap every day. I don’t get it at home, so why when I travel? In case that I need items, I will ask at the front desk. In some places around the world I sometimes change hotels every two to three days to avoid a pattern.
6. Taxis and Other “Hot Spots.”
When I get into a taxi at the airport or anywhere else in town, I always put cash in my pocket before I enter the taxi. This way I do not have to pull my billfold out and look for cash. Believe me, you are watched while you do it. The less attention you draw to yourself and your belongings, the safer you will be. Try to pretend that this is not your very first time in town. Ask the taxi driver what is new in town and engage him in a conversation. This will avoid the extra $20 because he gives you a ride around town.
In my next blog I will talk about establishing and handling the Risk Factor (RF Factor).