Safety and Security For The International Traveler
Safety is a big issue for all international travelers, regardless of where they are traveling, their age, and how well traveled they are. Every time you travel internationally you are exposing yourself to the risks that are commonly associated with being a tourist such as theft, scams, and even fraud. Knowing where you are traveling, what the customs and risks associated with the area are, and planning ahead for your safety and security will help you enjoy your international travel as much as possible.
Research The Area You’ll Be Traveling To
When you are thinking about traveling internationally, you should learn as much as you can about the area. Libraries are great places for learning geography, culturally relevant information, and areas of interest, but the Internet is an outstanding tool for learning about the good and bad areas of the country or specific area you’ll be visiting. Reading the personal account of other people, tour guides, or people who specialize in the area you are going to will allow you to plan ahead for your safety, and stay in locations that will offer you the most security. The Internet will also address transportation concerns, good and not so good lodging, and the like. While both libraries and bookstores have great information available, you might be able to get more accurate and up to date information on areas by reading information on the Internet as well.
If you plan on using public transportation on your international travels, you’ll want to pay close attention to the information about security and safety in this area. Subways and public rail systems can be quite confusing, and tourists can end up being victimized because they don’t know where they are going, and there is often a lack of security in these areas. Know what you are getting into before you travel, so you can plan accordingly. Also, when you make hotel arrangements ask about security available and the safety of the surrounding areas, so you can decide whether it’ll be safe to go out on your own after dark and such.
If you are going to an area and you cannot find much information on it, you might want to check with your travel agent or the U.S. Embassy in that area for safety and security information. You can never be overly prepared for such concerns, so do your homework and know what you can about the area, as that will add to your safety.
Have A Plan For Safe Handling Of Money
It doesn’t matter where you travel, you should be careful with your money. When you are traveling internationally, you’ll find that many of the locals consider you wealthy. This assumption makes you a prime target for those who are in need of money, or who have a passion for theft. Wearing a money belt and keeping a limited amount of local currency on you at all times is a good idea. A purse isn’t usually a good idea, as something running by you can take your purse and be gone with your money and personal affects before you can scream. A money belt can be purchased at luggage stores as well as stores that specialize in traveling, purses, wallets, and the link.
When you do cash travelers checks or your currency for the local currency, be discreet about it. The more attention you draw to yourself and the amount of money you have on yourself, the more likely you are to be victimized. So, have a plan before you travel as to where you’ll keep your money, and the system you’ll use to exchange currencies, if applicable.
Know Your Resources
Most international travelers do not intend on getting into trouble when they are traveling, but it happens. A lot of the time, the trouble is innocent, but because of cultural differences Americans often break laws without knowing it. Before you travel, you should have U.S. Embassy or Consulate information for the area that you’ll be traveling to. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate can act on your behalf if you find yourself in legal trouble of any sort. Whether you need a lawyer or just help with clarifying the law, the U.S. Embassy will likely be able to help you. If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll also need to report that to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Having this information with you will enable you to protect yourself should local laws or customs get the best of you.
Security And Customs
If you are traveling internationally you’ll likely have to go through the customs routine twice, one on the way out and on the way back as well. Have any documentation you need for your valuables to prove that you traveled with these items so that you don’t have to pay a tax or fee on them on your way back. As annoying as the customs process can be, remember that this process is one that keeps the public safe. In the end, the customs process is one that is well worth the irritating lines and sometimes lengthy process of coming and going from the country. Most likely, your experience with the customs officials will be brief and more than tolerable.
As you can see, most of the safety and security issues with traveling internationally can be planned for to make the process easier. Most of these issues are common sense, though many travelers forget that when they are in other countries there are just as many good and bad people and that you have to look out for yourself. Plan ahead, and be aware when you are traveling, and you’ll likely come home safe and secure.
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