My Number 1 Personal Security Tool when Traveling

Savvy Travelers Stay Safe with these Techniques and this great Gizmo

Kelly here. I’ve travelled all over the world. When I was young I hitchhiked right across Europe. And yes, there were times when things got hairy. The traveler is by nature a target. But you don’t have to be a sitting duck when venturing off the beaten track. Take a proactive roll for your own personal safety by being smart, shrewd and self-reliant. Most of it is commonsense, sometimes it’s all about having the right tool. Anticipating potential problems helps to avoid or overcome them. Visualize situations and mentally practice your reactions. Practice helps eliminate panic. Use these tips, and get a Door Stop Alarm. I wish I’d had one all those years ago. 

Study up: On paperwork, cultures, customs and language, querying veteran travelers. Line up contacts. Know the laws about carrying weapons including protective devices. Choose a hotel with security in mind and one with readily available transportation. A deal of a price could prove too dear a price pay.

Pack light: Less baggage means less to monitor, go missing or be a magnet for thieves. The less attention you pay to your stuff, the more you can pay to your surroundings. The freer your hands are the easier you’ll be able to handle the unexpected.  Carry ordinary looking unisex bags with tags that cover your name; use initials and last name only.

Dress: Don’t overdo it. Dressing to impress may impress the wrong people and set you up as a potential target. Dressing appropriately for the culture is smart. Don’t flash your cash, wear your wealth or advertise your nationality. (Socks and sneakers are a dead giveaway!)

Plan: Add extra time into your schedule. It’s easier to keep your wits about you and avoid trouble if you’re unhurried and un-harried.

Discourage hotel desk clerks from announcing your room number aloud. Check out your accommodations before you accept them. Keep room key out of sight of prying eyes but in hand to room or car. Get acquainted with staff at the hotel, nearby shops and restaurants. They’re good for advice and help.  Know where you’re staying. Pocket a hotel business card.

Take a Door Stop Alarm: This is hands-down the best travel safety device I own. All you have to do is place it behind your hotel door and if a bad guy tries to open that door it’ll trigger a 120 dB alarm that’ll scare the pants off anyone trying to break through that door. Keep it in your purse or backpack. You can use it at your hotel as well as any place you feel threatened. (You can use it at home as well.) It’s battery operated, robust, portable and VERY VERY loud. The best money I have spend on travel security when traveling to unknown destinations. Available from Walmart.  If you haven’t got the alarm type, just use a door wedge. 

If you think someone is trying to break into your room the door stop alarm will stop them giving you time to call the front desk and shout you’re calling the police.

Study maps before you leave your room to know where and how to go. Ask staff for directions and about the safety conditions around the hotel and destination.

Distractions: Don’t allow yourself to be distracted sightseeing. Be cautious in elevators and using public telephones and ATMs (during daylight when people are around). Watch out for people watching you when exchanging monies. Avoid telephone booths and isolated stairwells. Keep just enough cash in your wallet, purse and pockets for the day or excursion.

Especially for women: There is safety in numbers and in lighted places. Public transportation is safer than renting a car. Trekking off the beaten track solo is risky, even for the experienced. Traveling alone in peopled places is fairly safe. Slip into a group, if you feel uncomfortable.  If you think you’re being followed, duck into a shop or other safe place and ask for help. Don’t stay out after dark or swim alone late at night. Use the Door Stop Alarm. I mean it.

The Law: Avoid confrontations with the law. Don’t necessarily trust all policemen.  Since many foreign authorities still pander to women, stand firm but don’t make threats, be confident and professional. The American system of innocent until proven guilty is not widely shared abroad. Bribes are acceptable many places (learn where), and can be managed by offering to pay “the fine” right then and there.

As you decrease your vulnerability, you’ll increase your peace of mind.