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Are You Safe?

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There's more to worry about than passports and currency exchange when visiting a foreign place.  In many countries the way you speak and dress are dead giveaways that you are a tourist and probably unfamiliar with local customs and rules.  It is easier for attackers to victimize a visitor, especially if he or she cannot speak the native language, does not know how to contact the police, and is travelling alone.  It's just as foolish to leave behind your common sense as it is to leave your plane tickets.

  • Do Your Research First.  When planning a trip to an unfamiliar place, be sure to do your research first.  Find out how to contact your national consulate or embassy, local authorities, hospitals, taxis and hotels in that country, as well as people back home.  Some phone companies will be able to provide extended services so that your cell phone will work in the country where you are travelling.  Check this out along with your other travel plans before leaving.

  • Don't Look Lost and Helpless.  Look confident and like you know where you are going, even if you don't.  Don't look at maps on a street corner or public place with many people around because you will give strangers the impression that you are lost and helpless.  Go to a bathroom, café or your hotel room to consult a map.  If you are lost, don't admit it to a stranger.  Ask instead for directions to a landmark, police, restaurant or shop from which you can get your bearings straight again.

  • Be Extra Careful When Using Alcohol and Drugs.  Holidays can be a time to take risks, party, and meet new people.  However, be aware of what you are drinking and never let your drink out of sight.  We are hearing more instances of people being sexually assaulted while on holidays because someone slipped a drug into their drink.  Have fun, but be alert and aware.

  • Speak Up.  Don't be too shy to be rude to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid.  Be assertive when you tell a person to step away or go away from you.  It's all right to make a scene if someone is harassing or intimidating you, since most offenders expect their victims to stay quiet.