Sunday, June 12, 2011

Travel Advice

I've been absent here lately, for a lot of reasons, laziness being one of them. But I thought it was time to do something decidedly non-political.

Ed Morrissey from and I had quite an exchange prior his excursion to Rome with his lovely wife last month, and we discussed safety and security issues. This brought me to decide to discuss safety and security when traveling away from home, be it domestically or abroad. We need to be aware of our surroundings no matter where we go. I'm going to address this in 2 sections here. First, domestic travel.

Domestic travel

Where are you going, and where are you staying?  These are both important, because being at the Fairmont in San Francisco, and being at the Motel 6 in Memphis are very different places.  Know where you are going to be, know the neighborhood, and understand what safety measures you need to take.

1. Don't carry a lot of cash

2. Carry just a few credit/debit cards

3. Don't carry a wallet in your hip pocket, men; and ladies don't carry a loaded purse.

Try to fit in in the local scenery as much as possible.  Looking like a tourist puts a bullseye on your back.

4. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe, not that box in your room with the digital combination.  It isn't secure and every maid and maintenance man has the codes that override yours.

International Travel

This gets complicated, depending on where in the world you are traveling.  The rules for Canada are far different than those from Syria.

First off, prepare for the trip.  You are not going to be home, under out laws and protections, and your medical insurance may not be valid where you are going.  Buy additional travel insurance if needed.  It's pretty cheap.  Read up on the countries you will visit.  Try to learn some basics of the language.  Many people abroad can speak English but it is not guaranteed, and in small towns, you really do need to know a bit of the local lingo.  Don't expect things to be like "back home",  if that's a problem, stay home.  We travel abroad to expand our scope of knowledge about the world around us.  If you need Chik-Fil-A in Cebu, don't go there.

Now a few safety and security tips.

You figured out where to stay, and the neighborhood where you will be in.  That's good.  Get a good local map, or get one on Google.  Know where you are at all times, and be aware of your surroundings.

1. Do not carry a wallet or purse anywhere outside the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.  I highly recommend carrying a hidden wallet that hides behind your pants.  There are many types available, but i strongly recommend an underneath the pants hidden wallet like this one

2. Never share a taxi.  It's a mugging waiting to happen.

3.  Leave your passport, most of your money and credit cards in the hotel safe, not in the room box, but take photocopies of your passport with you.  The exception is if the country you are visiting requires you to keep your passport and visa on you at all times,  but not many of us are going to Syria.

4. Know that, Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore.  You are in a foreign country, don't expect things to be like back home, and don't bitch when they aren't.  Electricity, hot water, and air conditioning may be a sometimes thing, especially in the 3rd world.  Deal with it. 

5.  Read the State Department Briefings on the countries you will visit.  They have important and vital information if you ever get in trouble.

Finally just use common sense and have a great safe trip

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