Security concerns for international travel are really not that different than travel within the United States, or for that matter to the United States.
First, let’s look at what someone traveling here might think. Before I go too far, let me start with the fact that I am pro-gun. Imagine how scared many foreign travelers are when planning
a trip to the USA where many of us carry guns, and where we have incidents of people being shot at because of a difference of opinion. Furthermore, we have incidents of drive by shootings,
movie theater shootings, and school shootings. How could you bring your family somewhere like that? What special security concerns should you take into consideration before booking that trip?
Is it really that unsafe here? Or is it just unsafe everywhere? I, like many people, think it is unsafe everywhere, but I travel. I travel within the US and internationally as often as my
inner Sagittarius will allow. Having lived in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area in southern California, I learned many traits to keep me from getting in trouble early on. Hopefully my bad times will help you avoid some of your own.
I think basically people are people all around the world, and for the most part, they want to be left alone to live their lives. But if anyone believes that there is not real evil in the world, they are wrong! Th ere are many people who would hurt, rape, maim, or kill you just to be part of some gang or group, and many more who would do it just because they like it! Th at is what you need to be able to recognize, avoid and react to. Oft en this type of criminal/predator will conceal true intentions behind a well-rehearsed act or subterfuge. More stuff for you to learn to recognize.
10 key things to consider when planning
a trip outside the U.S.A:
6. Contact Information
8. Medical Emergency
Nothing says “American” like what we wear. Many Americans wear jeans, fleece, sportswear (when not engaged in a sport), baggy or loose-fi tting clothes, team logos, and designer logos. Whenever possible, try to see how the locals dress and imitate that as close as you can. I know it is against the thought process of many Americans, but try to blend instead of standing out. For example, have clothing that will properly cover your body if you are going to a Muslim country. Don’t dress provocatively or disrespectfully, and you wont be treated with disrespect.
Jewelry should stay at home in your jewelry box or in your safe. Avoid wearing a big wedding ring, instead, buy inexpensive silver bands to wear, or leave the wedding rings at home. If you have to wear a watch, wear an inexpensive one that nobody would want to steal from you. The point is to not draw attention in the first place. Wearing lots of big expensive jewelry or watches will draw attention and increase the possibility of getting mugged or worse.
Your passport is the only way you can get into and out of most countries. Keep it on your person, preferably in a zipped pocket. Have passport photos left with a relative and have the numbers to call to get a new one in case of emergency (see contact info).
A lot of countries use the US dollar, but even if they do, you shouldn’t. Exchange as much money as you think you will spend into the local currency. Know the exchange rate and be able to use the local money (without) using your fingers for math!
Everything is a weapon if you look at it that way. Some work better than others. The best I have found is to travel with a mask, snorkel, fi ns and a dive knife! Without
that option, you have to resort to “weapons of opportunity.” I recommend acquiring the first weapon you find and improving it as you go. Things that make great weapons are all around you. Your credit card or car key make a good knife, your belt makes a good whip, and a coffee mug a great impact weapon.
6. CONTACT INFORMATION
You should make a copy of all phone numbers,email addresses, addresses to properties you will be staying at or visiting, US embassies or consulates, passport emergency replacement numbers, your lawyer, your doctor’s information along with any medications you are taking or allergies you have. Give a copy to each person you are traveling with and all primary contacts at home.
Much like your contact information, you should make copies of your itinerary. Each person in the group and contacts at home should have as detailed as possible an itinerary detailing where you will be and when you will be there each day and the contact information whenever available. When going on a spontaneous trip, leave a note in your room detailing your plan.
8. MEDICAL EMERGENCY
Answer these questions before the need and your results will be much better. Does your health insurance work where you are traveling to? Do they have 1st world medical care? Do they have great medical care really cheap? Do you need travel health insurance? Do you have a really good first aid kit and the training to use it? If you have a medical emergency, do you plan on taking care of it where you are or when you get home?
If the country you are traveling in suddenly becomes unsafe locally or nationally, what is your plan? Do you have a car? Could you get one? Do you need one? Could you get to the airport? What if it is closed? Could you get out on a boat? Is one (nearby)? Could you walk out? How far? Are the neighboring countries friendly? Would they be if the one you are in became unfriendly? It is important to think of the answers to these questions should your travel destination become unsafe.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you get in trouble with the law. Have the number of your lawyer and have them recommend a local legal contact as well.
When planning travel, do not plan a backpacking trip on the border of Iran or North Korea. Check with the state department on locations where travel is not recommended and then listen to those recommendations. Feel free to travel anywhere in the world, but before you go, familiarize yourself with that country’s customs and courtesies and use them when you arrive. Be a traveler and not a tourist. No one owes you anything so do not act like it! While in a foreign country or a far-away state (or any time any place) it is a good idea to have a backpack with water and/or water treatment, food, warm clothing, a first-aid kit,and maybe something for shelter. Then, no matter what happens,you won’t become part of the problem. Remember, your
mind is the most powerful security tool you have, so use it!
When in unsafe areas, be aware of your surroundings at all times without looking around. Do not make eye contact with anyone. Do not speak to anyone. If approached, shake your head side to side like saying NO, and hold up your hand like a stop sign, and walk away from the person approaching you. Likely they have some well-rehearsed subterfuge to make you feel sorry for or want to help them. Remember it is not why you are there. If they follow you, ready a weapon. If they stop you and will not let you pass, you could be in big trouble. You will have to choose between fight or flight.
Personally I prefer flight. It is not as “macho” as fight, but if you take a lesson from the animal kingdom, you will see they do too! Seldom is fighting the solution, but once it is, it is the only solution. I will repeat this because it is as accurate as a statement can be: Seldom is fighting a solution, but when it is, it is the only solution! When you have exhausted all other options and all you have left to do is fight, then fight! Fight like your life depends on it because it does! Worry about everything else after you survive.
That being said, if you are in a fight in a foreign country and survive, you most likely seriously injured the other person. Which means it might be time to leave. It might be the best time to get your stuff and get out of town. Remember, you are the stranger, and as the stranger, people will oft en side with their own, not you! People, police, judges, jailers and anyone else can
ruin your life. Do not give them the chance! So go and go now. While it is important to be aware of dangerous travel scenarios and be prepared, don’t let the possibilities discourage you from experiencing the world of travel. So remember, the world is a big beautiful place with many sights to see, so never be afraid, but always be prepared. Have a great time. Travel and make memories. Life is short, fill it up!
Dan Ronin has trained in the martial arts for over 30 years. He is
a combat veteran who served as a Military Police Investigator in
the Army for 8 1/2 years. Dan off ers classes in Counter-Attack self
defense for open hands and weaponry, as well as disaster/emergency
preparedness. Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or