If you are planning a trip overseas this summer, chances are you are somewhat concerned about two big security threats: 1) the threat of terrorist attacks such a we witness in Paris and Brussels, and/or 2) the threat of medical problems such as the Zika virus outbreak in South America. Whether you are a business traveler or simply a tourist, it pays to be prepared. While there are many concrete things you can and should do, this blog post will focus on the information aspects. Here are some pointers in terms of staying informed about travel security risks on a global level.
- Educate yourself about the countries you will visit. We live in the Internet age, and it can be as simple as a Google search and a Wikipedia read to get basic information on a country. Many Muslim countries, for example, have dress and clothing customs which can seem strange to a Westerner. Not being properly dressed in these countries can not only provoke some hostility but could also make one easier to “spot” as a target. Being culturally sensitive is always good advice.
- Buy some key travel books. Similarly, if you are going for a longer visit, consider purchasing in-depth travel guides. Publishers such as Fodors and Lonely Planet publish in-depth guides that explain many tourist features but also have information such as emergency contact numbers and procedures. With Amazon’s Kindle, you can even get these in digital format for your Kindle device or by downloading the Kindle App for iPhone or Android, you can have them on your smartphone.
- Subscribe to information updates. Click up to our home page, and subscribe to the IMG GlobalSecur service. These updates will keep you up-to-date on security warnings worldwide. Similarly, visit the Department of State website and sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Read the news. In between Google news and the obvious sources of information such as the New York Times, begin to read BEFORE you go abroad.
- Sign up for Google Alerts. Google’s free alerts can be set up by keyword (country name) and are another way to stay informed about a country.
These are just five key pointers to help you with travel security updates. Oh, and here’s a sixth one: have fun! Despite the fact that international travel, for both business and pleasure, can seem scary, remember that in point of fact you are much more likely to be hit by a car or mugged than you are to die in a terrorist attack or from some strange virus. These things can happen in Toledo, Ohio, just as easily as they can happen in Caracas, Venezuela. So being safe is just a habit of modern life. That said, going abroad is an amazing opportunity to see the world, experience new cultures, and meet new people. Enjoy yourself!