The following suggestions have been derived from my travels worldwide for 20 years or more. These observations are provided as a helpful supplement to other online resources that address travel-related personal security issues. I apologize to those who do not find these observations relevant to their particular situation. Let me say that these proposals are offered freely and without restriction, so that they may be by-passed. Very little of this information is original to me and I apologize if anyone has written something like this. Also, I am not a security specialist and do not claim to have expertise. These things are right for me … each reader's mileage may vary. Some of my ideas may actually leave people in authority and / or cause physical harm. Please read this with an open and critical look. .
Many US Embassy staff, host Federal Police and Army staff gave me advice and recommendations on foreign markets … mainly in Latin America, mainly in Western America, but also in Western Europe and the Pacific, and personal safety issues. Rimi countries.
My contribution is also from international and US expats living and working there. I know a lot of people in many countries have a lot of experience and I can honestly laugh at all these stupid and worrying ideas and problems. How you take it is your business … it's seriously concerned about the safety of all international travelers.
I needed to learn this stuff because I've lived and worked outside of the US most of my life. I traveled internationally for the first time in the 1960s and retired in 2005 to live in Argentina. Hopefully you understand that the world of Post 9-11 has really changed. The radicals of the right, the left and the brave religious extremists and the NarcoTerrorists celebrated everyone as the twin towers went down. You should also know that even before 9-11, international travel was more dangerous than in the 1960s. Now the angry boys all over the world have been encouraged more by the notion that bad guys are getting away from bad things … so they have become more aggressive.
* Try to FAMILYIZE yourself with the area you plan to visit. There are many different newsgroups that allow search companies to search for keywords covering your area of interest. I use Yahoo News, the DogPile News Search element and more. I also search the web for local news sources in my area. Here are some questions to consider when looking for information about your geographic area of interest:
* Are terrorist / organized crime groups currently active in the area?
* Do they aggressively attack foreigners when visiting? Or is it more local-to-local crime?
* How active are they? How violent have they been in the last 4-12 months?
* How complex are they? Do they use military weapons and tactics?
* Are they predictable? Can you expect security when you are away from known areas of activity?
* Do local citizens warn of visiting foreigners? Do you have any local contacts who can advise you?
Groups and individuals have shown their willingness to use terrorist / criminal tactics to advance their plans. While some threats are regionally focused, others have become international and affect many regions. Foreign visitors, military and diplomatic personnel are seriously targeted in almost every region of the world.
ALWAYS PLAY "WHAT …?" SCENARIO GAME
Consider the ways in which you may be the victim of a criminal / NarcoTerrorist attack. There are several factors to keep in mind:
Taxis: Never try to take a taxi alone. Never try to take a taxi off the street. ALWAYS have a taxi company card and call or have someone call the cab for you. If not, the following is the best solution for a taxi driver. Even the US Embassy's Marines have to take these precautions, and we know they're in good shape … pretty tough in the fight. They are also great sources of local local information. Unfortunately, one of the successful business of Criminal / NarcoTerror Land is picking up a rich man (s) from the taxi and around the corner there are two extra-gun thugs who send you to a quiet place, a rich guy, take his luggage, etc.
If a visa or debit card is found, they will send you to an ATM and have you withdraw your daily limit before they take you naked and leave you on the road. If … if they are impressed with what they find in your effects, thugs may decide that it is worth trying to sell you to drug traffickers (drug traffickers). They can ask for $ 5,000 – $ 15,000, knowing that NarcoTerrorists typically require a minimum of $ 250,000 in ransom. You can then spend the next several years of your life chained to a tree in the jungle sweating mosquitoes and eating under-cooked beans. If you or the taxi driver notice a suspicious vehicle or two nearby, consider asking the taxi driver to take you to the nearest police station … or to a busy area.
If you need to drive a car and your budget does not include an armored vehicle with "run out" tires, preceded by a "chase" and the next "blocking" van full of armed bodyguards, try renting / choosing a 4-wheel high clearance vehicle. A sturdy bumper is a good idea to break through the barricades. If you see a police roadblock with only one or two officers and one (or NOT) clearly in an official vehicle, consider operating or working around the roadblock. You may prefer to return quickly from the area to a point where you can turn around and leave the area. If this is really a fraud for the fake police (or the crooks pulling out of service), you should be fine. You may need a heavy truck for this maneuver. If this is a legitimate checkpoint / official police obstruction and they hit you, humbly and VERY politely explain that you are sorry and will never do it again, but your friend warned against the wrong roadblocks for the criminals / NarcoTerrorists. Official roadblocks around the world usually have many, many clearly marked police vehicles and uniforms / heavily armed officers. Remember that NarcoTerrorists also have police uniforms and outfits … but usually there are not too many official cars.
If you happen to be driving down the street and one or more people run across the car trying to stop you, do not be afraid to push the accelerator pedal as if you were trying to hit them. They get out of the way.
If you are in a known area for car crime and someone is deliberately reversing your vehicle, consider leaving the scene as soon as possible. It's a serious "What if …?" scenario.
In many countries, the police understand when you slow down the movement, but are unable to stop at traffic lights and stop at night because it is known to be too dangerous at night.
MAKE YOUR motorcycles and scooters not always a good idea if you have to try to escape when someone is shooting at you. The car page isn't much, but every little bit helps.
ATMs: Try to go to an ATM only during the day, anywhere in the world. Even in the US. Also pay attention to who is in the area before, after, during, and after. Awareness of the situation is tricky when you try to make an unpleasant machine work … so remember not to go to the ATMs alone.
Buses: Until 1995, I always felt safe on the bus. I would still take the Nuevo Laredo – Monterrey bus, but I would probably think twice about driving to the Juarez or Sinaloa area. Why? Various Colombian and Mexican NarcoTerror groups are stopping for buses full of people to feed government forces into the slaughter zones where IEDs take them out. I've seen the results right now, and seeing 40+ teenage army men brutally chopped up using home-made bombs will disturb your whole life.
If you happen to be one of the poor men shaking naked on the side of the road with 20 to 30 people watching NarcoTraficantes, female travelers, realize that you will spend the next several years of your life eating beans in the jungle. Poor people are going home … except for the young and pretty girls and teenage boys they want to make for the NarcoTraficantes military service.
NarcoTraficantes are studying at the same Islamic extremist terror schools as Al-Qaida and the Colombian / Mexican NarcoTraficantes' IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are really starting to appear … in recent cases, feed and blasting techniques have been used. In southern Mexico to kill many soldiers and federal police.
Do not leave your phone, camera, wallet or other valuables near the outdoor table of any restaurant or within the reach of a walking public. Try to sit as far away as possible from vehicle / pedestrian traffic. As always, play "What if …?" And watch out for your surroundings. Jenna Bush's wallet in Buenos Aires was full of daylight, and agents surrounded her.
When leaving an expensive place such as an electronics store, Arman, etc., an expensive restaurant or a nice hotel, you could simply define yourself as a potential expensive destination. If you carry parcels and put them in the car, try to secure the items in the trunk or lockable area, and remember that your next location is likely to be followed by evil intentions. If you are on a Range Rover or Cadillac Esplanade, you should understand that you are on a high quality target with little or no secure storage. If you stop and leave the vehicle in any unsafe place after you have been seen leaving an expensive place, do not be surprised if you come back later to find the locks broken or the vehicle stolen.
A wallet is an obligation and I will never carry it. Copies of credit cards, driver's license and passport, birth certificate, travel or residence documents (NOT the originals) carry a thin zippered pocket between the T-shirt and the outer shirt / sweater. Sometimes I prefer a photographer's vest that has a lot of inner / outer zipper or velcro pockets. This vest can carry as much as a small suitcase … about 4 pounds of stuff right now. Fanny packs are less secure, so I usually put just reading materials, cheap sunglasses, rubber, and so on. Cameras / GPSs and other expensive things are fitted in velcro pockets in a vest or coat pocket. As a side note, I have copied and reduced important documents needed for my daily portability and sent copies to multiple web-based email accounts so that I can replace them at any time from any Internet / print location.
The cash I carry is as small as possible. I keep high denominations in a money clip under one front pocket with a broken handkerchief on top. Another cash clip includes the daily distribution of small bills in another pocket so I don't have to blink large bills for most purchases. It is also filled with a front pocket and a second handkerchief. Most of my funds, original passport and other documents, valuables, etc., are in WalMart's small combination safe, which can fit into my luggage, which I control when traveling in the hotel office safe. PLEASE NOTE that I do not agree with a number of suggestions that a paper-lure pocket should be thrown away to alert attackers. I prefer throwing low-denomination lures everywhere, because it takes longer to disperse the focus for better access.
Baggage Security: Most complaints about theft, damage or loss are related to the contents of the baggage. Smart travelers make a written inventory of their luggage and take pictures in the event of a loss. Carry important items such as medicines, eyeglasses and expensive jewelry, a travel vest used by photographers, carry small items, etc. in your hand luggage. My vest contains up to 8 kilos of goodies. Copy the contents of your wallet and passport. Carry a copy in your hand luggage and leave one back at home. Keep your luggage under control until you check in at your destination. Consider traveling with a good looking luggage. More expensive-looking luggage can be targeted against its perceived content. External bag labels should not include your full home address and phone number. I labeled my mobile number, phone number and email address. I don't put my name or any ties on the bags. In the event of losing your beautiful luggage, weigh it with big strips, sideways on the outside, your phone numbers, email and more.
Think of durable lockable or secured luggage that can withstand hundreds of other luggage at the bottom without opening. It's a good idea to add an extra strip … $ 5 for a wide nylon strap with side zippers on WalMart … or an airport plastic wrap or duct tape in your luggage lock so no one can unlock your luggage without detection. When flying, NOT ALL your bags are locked. I only use self-closing plastic ties. They fit well with my luggage. All airport inspectors have substitutes when they need to break your ties to check your bags. You can buy them at any home improvement store for about a dollar. The reason for this is that smugglers slip drugs / weapons, etc. into their luggage only to be retrieved later and possibly by force. Passengers have unknowingly carried illegal substances / firearms which they have carried in their luggage by baggage handlers, only to be subsequently seized by the authorities. What explanation would you give to the foreign government to prove your innocence, why do you carry drugs or weapons? If your luggage was properly sealed, you should damage it before opening it. Report baggage damage immediately before opening the cabinet.
Luggage Locks: If the bag has a combination lock, I put a piece of adhesive tape with the combo in the bag … usually 0-0-0. This is because my bag suffered serious damage when it was forced into the bag, even if it was opened. A sign of the times, no?
Airplane Security: In addition to the obvious precautions, I would recommend trying to book a window seat as close to the center of the cabin as possible. There are bad guys gathering behind and in the front of each cabin to guard the victims. Consider what you can do to prevent your business / military / nationality / religion from appearing.
Cruise Ship Security: Cruise ships are like a small town where passengers are encouraged to forget their worries and relax aboard. It is natural for vacation travelers to be on guard, especially when they are at the seaside resort. Try not to have a false sense of security on a cruise ship that could ruin your vacation by becoming a victim of crime. Before deportation, consider the following preventive actions:
After entering the cabin and with the door still open, always check the interior of the bathroom or the closest one before entering the bathroom. Don't think your cabin is as safe as a hotel. Many people have the keys to your cabin and your cabin door may remain idle for hours when the cleaning staff or cabinet attendant service the room. Cabin door locks are sometimes terribly outdated and are not reactivated as often as hotel rooms. Probably don't leave valuable items lying down. It's a good idea to invent your own luggage and take pictures of expensive items at home, and even send emails to your webmail account so they can be easily retrieved anywhere before they are packed home in the event of a loss. Since most boat passengers are set up on a pay account system, be sure to use the ship's safe to store valuable items, papers, credit cards or extra cash. Use all cabin door locks, including night blinds. Consider carrying a hardware store doorstep in your luggage and seating for added security. Some of these are available through online vendor alerts. Do not open your cabin door to strangers. Whatever a person wants, one can express the closed and locked door on the other side. Be sure to teach your children this important procedure.
As in a hotel, protect the cabin key and cabin number. Unscrupulous crews or travelers are looking for a way to break or leave an unattended key. When leaving the port, be sure to leave the key behind the check-in desk before leaving.
Remember that a fake hairspray / deodorant may be safe if you need to attach small items and a safe is not available. Once you have boarded and reached the sea, do not think that you are completely safe from crime. While there is a risk that you may be abducted or attacked by an outside predator on a cruise ship, crew members or fellow passengers may be committing crimes just as easily. Many cruise lines hire temporary and seasonal workers at low wages. As a result, the turnover is high and cruise lines are struggling to keep the ship's full staff. Although most crew members are hardworking and honest people, you cannot expect the ship to be properly screened by this nice cabin crew, waiter or deck crew. Consider a Family Safety Plan: When you bring your children on board, be sure to set up family rules. ahead. Set curfews and restrictions … just like at home. Especially teenagers should be told that they should never send team members to public places, nor should team members be allowed in your salon. Staying at sea can cause false sense of security. Although the number of crime cases per thousand is relatively low, there may still be predators on board. Ship nightclubs, casinos, swimming pools and hot tubs are a favorite spot for victims.
You must also keep watch over drunk passengers. The consumption of food and liqueur is on board ships, which causes some people who are unfamiliar with it. The fact that the passengers are dressed does not mean that they are behaving appropriately or not being too aggressive. It is not unheard of for a ferry to slip a drug on your drink and use it as you would on a shore. There are pickpockets, wallet thieves and cabin burglars aboard waiting for you to drop your guard or become careless. There are also scammers who search and prey on rich vacationers when given the chance.
Your child safety plan may include cot control, curfew, restrictions and special meeting places. Beware of the children they visit, just like at home. Your children may come in contact with other children who use drugs or who are in trouble, such as at home. Try to limit your child's sponsored activities in public places. You should contact your children periodically, even if they are instructed. For them, navigating a ship if you are otherwise engaged is not a good idea. You should always have a contingency plan and appoint a crew member as a contact in case your child does not show up or if you are leaving port. Make sure the children understand that there's nothing you can do to get a child out of the police when he or she is smuggled in a foreign country.
You're no longer in Kansas. Although you came aboard a US port, that does not mean that you are protected by the US legal system. Most ships are registered in non-US countries and operate in territorial waters where US law may not apply. The cruise industry does not consistently report crime data, if any, to the FBI, nor does it maintain a database of ships with the most crime problems. Crimes on board a ship sometimes end up in the "no man's land" of law enforcement. The crime may occur between two people of different nationalities, on a ship from a third country and in the territorial waters of a fourth country. The applicable law is International Maritime Law and is not as well developed as US law. Reporting a crime on board a cruise ship does not mean that anything is being done or that the crime is ever being investigated. The FBI is the only US law enforcement agency that can investigate a major crime, but only if it occurs in international waters, otherwise the crime will be reported to the nearest foreign jurisdiction and to the embassies involved. In many cases, prosecution of crimes is left to the local port authority, where no one can predict the outcome.
Note that if you or a member of your family gets in trouble on board a ship or in port, you may be liable to foreign law. You need to be alert, be careful, and stay safe at sea. For more information on cruise ship security or how your ship deals with issues such as lost luggage or crime, please contact the cruise ship directly and request written disclosure of these policies and regulations. You can also contact the New York Cruise Line International, which represents the 25 largest cruise lines.
Location: Local terrorists may target locations visited by foreigners or foreign military personnel, such as certain hotels, apartment buildings, public transportation centers, and nightclubs. Avoid potential destination locations. Often they use staff from overseas offices, taxi drivers, airport staff (especially banking / money exchange agencies) and adult entertainment staff as compatriots or as a source of information about potential lucrative goals.
Opportunity: Terrorists and criminals are looking for "soft targets" … so learn to avoid appearing. It is difficult to emphasize the need to remain vigilant, to ensure good personal safety and to alert competent authorities to suspicious behavior. If you find that you can't stay out at night, try walking down the center of the street (not always possible). Be especially careful when passing a large commercial vehicle or a vehicle full of people in yards and deep doorways near your road. Walk steadily with strong, firm steps … shoulders back, head upright, head and eyes constantly moving. Use windows / mirrors near the street to control your surroundings. Under no circumstances should anyone be allowed to engage you in a conversation at this time. The criminals try to slow you down until their helpers come to attack you. Keep going, talk to your cell phone as if having a conversation … preferably in a language you don't think potential attackers can. To attack you, terrorists generally need to notice you, your connection, or your location as a target. Think seriously about how to avoid becoming an easy target.
Watch out for criminals / narcoTerrorists preparing and conducting attacks with predictable steps. Through vigilance, you might recognize the preparation of an attack before it is executed. Be wary of unusual behaviors that may indicate intelligence gathering, tracking, attack material collection, dry runs, and samples. For example:
* Take photos or videos of potential targets
* Write notes or sketch details of a potential target
* Unusual attention to details of routine activities and security measures
* Using false detection
* Paying cash for items you usually buy with credit
* Buying large quantities of items that can be used as part of an attack (such as chemicals or cell phones)
* If you notice anything unusual, immediately notify the Security Officers for further investigation. Write down the person's description and activities, the time and the equipment used.
Terrorist attacks on the Spanish / English / Japanese rail systems, Mexican border towns, Bali, Indonesia, Luxor, Egypt, London, England and other tourist destinations signal an increased threat to foreign travelers. When visiting a new place, it is natural to visit sites of interest. While watching, you should keep in mind good crime / anti-terrorism practices.
* Examine potential hazards known in the area. If the risk is increased, take additional precautions or delay your actions.
* Plan activities and a route that includes safe places. Keep thinking, "What if …"
* Ask a friend or coworker to join you – small groups are usually safer than individuals.
* When viewing with others, determine where to meet when they are separated in an emergency. Make sure someone knows your route (acquaintances, business contacts, hotel staff?) And when you can come back.
FOR YOUR OWN TIME
* Hide your national / business / religious affiliation and try to blend in with other tourists. In many cases, US red white and blue t-shirts, football / baseball logo clothing, and religious jewelry are too conspicuous.
* View and follow the local culture. Activities such as displaying affection, drinking alcohol or wearing shorts or skirts may not be appropriate.
* Don't pay too much attention to yourself. Avoid loud or crazy behavior. Walking the streets at night in an unusual state is very dangerous in many places.