|It's a Matter of Common Sense: Keep
Safe When Traveling Abroad for Business
Originally Posted on
If you are nervous about
traveling abroad and your business requires it, take the following common
sense steps to avoid trouble.
First, you should stop and
assess the situation. Next, ask yourself if you are experiencing paranoia.
Lastly, take action. Look for alternatives if you feel confident that
something is wrong. You may have to wave down a taxi, run, or step inside a
Stay Aware of Your
If you are traveling to an
area for the first time, it is extremely important to learn as much as you
can about the country before you pack your bags. Intelligence updates and
country updates found at the U.S. State Department can give you the
background you need in order to make intelligent decisions when confronted.
Contact the State Department or the United States Embassy before you go. Get
a threat briefing. It will let you know if there are certain areas you
If you are a frequent
traveler, the area you visit may feel like home. However, that's no excuse
to let your guard down.
Never become complacent,
even if you travel to an area often, says Karen Jeffery, president of
Pacific Island Investments. On a routine trip to Fiji, she discovered that
her laptop computer and calculator were missing from her luggage. It turns
out that someone searched her bags after they were removed from the boat.
"I found out that people sift through the luggage regularly and take
what they want," she says. "My advice is: don't let anything out
of your sight, even if you are frequent traveler to an area."
Lower Your Risk
Terrorists and thieves are
sometimes attracted to Americans because they can earn an attractive ransom.
If you are trying to look
like you are of modest means and you have a Platinum card, an American
Express card, and your gym membership card, a terrorist would jump to the
conclusion of thinking that you are a millionaire.
There isn't a single
scenario that describes how travelers are nabbed. People often run awry with
the police and get a lofty American attitude by assuming that they have the
same rights in a foreign country as they do in the United States. That's why
you should always be polite when dealing with police or even thieves when
abroad. Don't be condescending. Carry bribe money to get you through sticky
Of course, if you look and
act like the people in your area, you have a better chance of escaping
problems with the police and others. If you are traveling with nationals,
your chances of having problems are also reduced.
Do As the Natives Do
That's why you should
always do as the natives do. Dress similar to the natives in the area. Try
to avoid wearing clothes with obvious American insignias. In other words,
leave your university alumni shirt at home.
Become invisible by
learning how to behave in a new culture. Develop a rapport with foreign
nationals. Ask them about any security concerns you may have and mimic their
behavior. They will give you an insider's opinion. Learn acceptable
greetings and discussion for the area you are visiting. For example, in some
cultures, slapping a person on the back is a no-no.
Never pull out large sums
of money. Use traveler's checks or local currency instead of using American
cash. If you must have a credit card, bring only one. There's no sense in
losing all of them at once. Make sure that you get a receipt for your
purchases. Finally, remember to ask for your credit card carbon copies and
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Williams is a freelance travel writer. (More about