Are you planning an African safari, a month in Marrakesh or a bike ride through Belgium this year? There are few experiences more enriching and refreshing than seeing the world up close.
But as media reports remind us, the world can sometimes be a dangerous place. We hear disturbing news about airport shootings, hostage standoffs and pedestrians being run down on sidewalks. Kidnappings are also a concern, particularly for corporate executives and high-net-worth individuals.
It's important to build common-sense travel safety tips into your plans, said Briane Grey, director of corporate security for City National Bank. “Regardless of whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, with family or on business, situational awareness is key," he said. “You should be especially aware if you're traveling to a country where U.S. citizens could be targeted based on what's going on in the news, either to send a political message or because criminals know your company or family will pay to get you home safely."
Companies like International SOS and iJet International have added courses on how to handle crisis situations to their roster of U.S. travel advisory and weather alerts. Some corporations are bringing security experts in house to train employees on how to handle emergency situations, such as active shooter scenarios.
“Participants learn to run, hide or fight back – if they can. With all the tragedies we've had, it has become clear that if a group of people act together when cornered they can sometimes limit the total loss or damage," Grey said.
How should you prepare for this year's exotic travel adventure? Here are six tips:
- Book your trip through a well-regarded travel agency that has offices and security personnel in the countries you will visit. “They can provide help and protection for you and your group in the event that something unexpected happens," Grey said. "If you’re traveling on your own, make sure you understand the culture and environment of the countries you visit."
- Take an online or in-person course on how to react if you're faced with a natural disaster or security incident. “Learning the best way to react in a given situation can make a huge difference in how you come through it," said Grey.
- Secure your finances by notifying your bank and credit card providers that you'll be out of the country; pay your bills before you go; and leave a detailed itinerary with a relative or friend so they can track you down in case of an emergency.
- While taking in the sights, stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, said Mark Meader, senior vice president for industry affairs and education at the American Society of Travel Agents. Perennial scams, such as pickpocketing and overcharging people unfamiliar with local currencies, still rip off many travelers every year.
- Sign up for the U.S. State Department's STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), and check out their travel alerts, global security warnings, recommended health precautions and contact information for the U.S. embassy or consulate in the countries you will visit.
- Meader also recommended familiarizing yourself with common international scams and considering travelers insurance. Your travel agent can help you identify the right coverage, he said.
Don't forget to be vigilant about identity theft as well. Sanitize your laptop, portable device or phone before you travel so that if someone snatches it, they won't discover any sensitive information, such as links to your bank accounts or passwords. Back up all your electronic devices prior to leaving so you can restore anything that is lost or compromised when you get home. And keep up with antivirus processes, systems and security patches on all your devices.
“It's important to understand that as an American you may be targeted for a crime outside the U.S.," Grey said.
|This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute an offer or solicitation to sell the products or services of the providers identified. City National Bank makes no recommendation of the products or services offered by the providers attributed in this article. The opinions expressed are those of the persons quoted and not necessarily the opinions of City National Bank.|