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General Travel Tips

Prior to Departure:

  • Ensure that your home is protected while you are away.
  • Do some basic research regarding the local customs and culture of the countries you are planning on visiting. This can either be done through the Internet or the purchase of readily available travel books/guides.
  • Check your Foreign Ministry’s (or equivalent) website to see if there are any current travel warnings pertaining to locations you plan to visit.
  • Keep a list of your credit card numbers and give a copy to a trusted friend or colleague at home. This is useful in the extreme case that your credit cards have been lost or stolen and you do not have access to cash.
  • Keep a list of important telephone numbers with you and do not solely rely on your cell phone for this function. Cell phones are one of the easiest things to have stolen during a trip.
  • Provide your itinerary and hotel information to a trusted friend or colleague.
  • Rent a GSM phone for your trip. Such phones allow you to make/receive calls by accessing the local cellular system. Furthermore, the phone gives you a standard number through which others may reach you.
  • Make sure you research the current exchange rate for the local currency. This will allow you to look for the best deals and avoid being overcharged when exchanging money.

Air Travel:

  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your departure for international flights. After ticketing and passing through security measures it is advised that you move to the gate area since this is traditionally the safest part of the airport.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended. Not only can it be easily stolen, individuals could also slip contraband inside it without your knowing. Furthermore, many international airports have strict policies in which unattended luggage is confiscated and destroyed due to security concerns.
  • Do not display company logos on your luggage or briefcase.
  • If traveling in high threat areas, be cautious of sharing information regarding your employment in open conversation with passengers.
  • As always, make sure you familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures and exit procedures on the aircraft. While at the airport and in the air, it is advisable to only drink alcohol in moderation (if at all), asalcohol can have stronger effects at high altitudes and can also significantly increase ‘jet lag.’
  • Keep business confidential/propriety documents out of the view of other passengers.

Ground Transportation:

  • Always try and use pre-arranged transportation. Oftentimes this service can be arranged for you via your hotel.
  • Know if public transportation (including taxis) is safe to use.
  • Only use marked transportation, never use unidentified cabs or buses.
  • It is highly advisable that you keep your windows rolled up and doors locked. On The Ground:
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings.
  • Do not carry large sums of money. Do not place your wallet in your back pocket as this is the easiest target for pickpockets. Keep cash and credit cards divided up in several pockets with zippers or in a money pouch worn inside your shirt.
  • Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and clothing as this can increase your chances of being targeted by thieves due to your affluent appearance.
  • Be aware that in some countries, taking pictures of government, security and transportation facilities is not allowed and can land you in trouble.
  • It is advised that purses should be slung diagonally across the chest as this makes it very difficult for a thief to simply run by and snatch it. However, thieves have been known to cut the straps of purses.
  • Avoid back alleys and unlit areas you are unfamiliar with.
  • Avoid dressing provocatively (especially women) as this could offend certain cultures as well as bring unwanted attention to you.
  • Be aware that it is common for pickpockets and thieves to work in pairs or groups. Oftentimes, one individual will approach you to engage you in conversation while another steals your belongings while you are distracted. If you need to ask for directions or help, try to choose a woman with children.
  • Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t look or feel right, avoid it.
  • Only purchase beverages sold in a sealed bottle. Never except drinks from strangers in restaurants or bars (especially pertinent for female travelers) as they may be drugged.
  • Do not get involved with local demonstrations.
  • If robbed by an armed thief, do not resist as this will only increase the chance of injury or even death.
  • If you require scheduled medication, make sure you carry enough medication with you as well as a copy of your prescription.

In the Hotel:

  • Try and stay in well-known chain hotels or well-rated private hotels.
  • Avoid the ground floor and top floor rooms as these are most accessible for thieves.
  • Avoid rooms higher than the seventh floor, as in some locations those floors may be inaccessible to fire equipment.
  • Ensure that all windows and doors are locked when leaving your room.
  • Never open your door before you have visually identified the visitor.
  • Do not accept deliveries to your room unless they have been previously arranged and you are certain of their source and contents. Contact the front desk if you have any concerns.
  • Meet visitors in the lobby as this does not disclose the actual location and number of your room.
  • Do not leave sensitive documents or equipment unattended out in the open when you leave your room.
  • Laptops are a major target for theft. When not in use, make sure your laptop is secure in a safe or locked suitcase.
  • Not all room electronic safes are trustworthy. Use hotel safety deposit boxes that require double- key entry when available.
  • Never announce your room number in public areas where others can easily overhear it.
  • It is advised that you avoid valet parking as this ensures the valet knows when you are away from your room. Oftentimes this information is shared with thieves and accomplices.
  • Know the location of fire extinguishers as well as the relative distant between your room and exits and staircases. This is extremely useful in instances of fire when heavy smoke hampers visibility.

Common Scams:

Listed below are some ploys used by pickpockets to distract travelers, both male and female:

  •  One person covertly smears toothpaste on a traveler’s shoulder, points it out as bird droppings and offers to wipe it off (usually with a large handkerchief). As one thief wipes off the toothpaste and distracts the traveler, a partner picks the traveler’s pockets.
  • Children carrying newspapers or cardboard sheets swarm around the traveler, holding the sheets in front of the traveler’s face and stealing luggage or picking pockets.
  • Women wearing long dresses and posing as street vendors surround a traveler closely, talking loudly and waving pamphlets or merchandise. Children hidden under the women’s skirts pick the traveler’s pockets.
  • One thief will grope a traveling woman on a crowded bus or subway. As she is indignantly looking around for the culprit, another thief reaches into the traveler’s purse

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