Home | Extra Times | Travel | Tips on ensuring personal safety when you travel

Tips on ensuring personal safety when you travel

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
image Foreign tourists walk on a street near the railway station in New Delhi

In the era of the Internet and instant posting, people tend to travel more to countries where they don’t speak the language, have a superficial knowledge of the culture and do little advance preparations beyond booking hotels and buying a tourist guide. AP Travel Editor Beth J. Harpaz has some trip tips worth following


Recent high-profile attacks on tourists in India, Brazil, Turkey and Mexico — including rapes — have raised questions about personal safety for overseas travel, especially for women. But frequent travelers and those who work in the industry say a few common-sense precautions can go a long way to ensuring personal safety.
For example, Fly.com vice president Warren Chang didn’t hang a “Do not disturb” sign on his hotel room door on a trip to Jordan, because he didn’t want to advertise his presence. Cindy Vanhoutte, who works for the vacation rental site HomeAway.com, always checks Google Street View to see what neighborhoods look like before renting there. And Pauline Frommer, co-publisher of Frommer Guidebooks, leaves her jewelry home and tries to dress according to “local norms” — recently wearing long, loose trousers in Morocco.
It’s also prudent to check the U.S. State Department website’s travel warnings, which track everything from crime to terrorism to natural disasters.
Sometimes travelers simply become careless, forgetting that crime is everywhere. “The cynicisms get left at home,” said Alex Puig, a regional security director for International SOS, a medical and security crisis response company. “I was on a train recently in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s like Disney World there but an individual had his bag stolen.” Puig himself was robbed by a gang in Rio but gave up his wallet and was unharmed. “Be prepared to lose whatever you’re carrying,” he advised.
Puig says travelers may be less cautious these days because websites and TV shows have made extreme adventures and off-the-beaten path destinations seem routine. “In the digital world, we can instantaneously show our friends all the cool, weird things we’re doing,” Puig said. “Our clients are flying to the developing world and going to spots they never would have gone to 10 years ago. In the era of Facebook postings, all the great things you’re doing can lead people to bad judgment.”
One important tip from Puig: Most crimes occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., so stay indoors or be careful between those hours.
Elizabeth Becker, author of the new book “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,” said sometimes people “do things abroad they would never consider doing at home. They travel to countries where they don’t speak the language, have a superficial knowledge of the culture and do little advance preparations beyond booking hotels and buying a tourist guide. My suggestion is to do your homework and spend the money to hire a reputable guide. If possible, make a connection to a local before you visit — either through a trusted friend, family member or colleague. The local can help steer you away from dangerous situations.”
Carole Cambata’s company Travel Leaders/Greaves Travel in Highland Park, Ill., specializes in travel to India. She said her agency got a few calls after several attacks there on women, including from parents whose daughters are heading there as students or volunteers. Cambata says the safest way for tourists to travel in India is by car and driver rather than public transportation, with the exception of certain trains, and she noted that it’s much more affordable to have private cars there than here. She sometimes books female travelers on hotel floors that are female only — both guests and housekeepers.
While nobody is blaming the victims for any of these attacks, Cambata also advises visitors to avoid going out late alone, to dress conservatively and to stay away from isolated areas. “I wouldn’t send a tourist to a dodgy area in New York either,” she said.

Our clients are flying to the developing world and going to spots they never would have gone to 10 years ago

- Alex Puig, International SOS

The recent attacks inspired STA Travel, which specializes in student travel, to post “Tips for Safe Travels” on the STA blog. Advice includes staying in a group, never leaving your belongings unattended, and making sure gadgets and other valuables are out of sight. Young travelers are also encouraged to drink and party “responsibly”: Don’t ever leave a drink unattended where someone can slip something in it.
Chang advises leaving a spare ATM card and credit card in the hotel safe, so you still have access to cash if you’re pickpocketed or robbed. He notes that some travelers ask for hotel rooms above ground floor, to prevent street-level break-ins, but below the sixth floor, so they can easily flee a fire. When he flies, he says, he counts rows between his seat and the emergency exit, in case the lights go out or the cabin fills with smoke.
Nearly 274,000 U.S. students participated in study abroad programs in 2010-11, and horror stories do occasionally surface. The woman gang-raped last month on a public van in Rio was an American student, and three Boston University students died last year in a minivan accident in New Zealand. A critical incident database for study abroad programs is being launched this year by the Forum on Education Abroad, in order to see where vulnerabilities exist — whether crimes, accidents or illnesses — and prevent future problems. The first data is expected early next year.
Several companies that organize group tours — including Gate 1 Travel, Abercrombie & Kent, Overseas Adventure Travel, and Road Scholar — said they experienced no cancellations and no changed itineraries as a result of the attacks in India and Brazil. They also noted that safety is one reason people — especially women and solo travelers — choose group tours.
“They tell us that our expert local guides allow them to travel comfortably to places where they hesitate to go on their own due to language and cultural differences,” said Pamela Lassers, spokeswoman for the luxury Abercrombie & Kent company.
Peter Greenberg, travel editor of CBS News and author of the “Like a Local” guidebook series, says immersing yourself in local culture is still the best way to travel, but you must use common sense.
“There are places in Ohio and New Jersey I wouldn’t frequent, but that doesn’t stop me from going to Cincinnati or the Jersey shore,” he said. “A quick review of travel crime statistics will reveal the truth: More Americans are injured or killed in accidents in their own bathtubs than are victims of crime or terrorism overseas. The only real downside to going off the beaten track is when you act like a tourist, not a traveler.” AP


More air turbulence over the Atlantic

Tourists, exchange students, masters of the financial universe and other business travelers: It’s time to buckle up.
More pollution is likely to mean bumpier flights for trans-Atlantic travelers, researchers say, predicting increased turbulence over the North Atlantic as carbon dioxide levels rise.
University of East Anglia climate expert Manoj Joshi said scientists have long studied the impact of the carbon-heavy aviation industry on climate change. Unusually, he said, “we looked at the effect of climate change on aviation.”
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, Joshi and colleague Paul Williams ran a climate simulation that cranked up the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to twice its pre-industrial level. Williams said they ran a series of turbulence-predicting algorithms for the North Atlantic winter period and compared the results to pre-industrial rates.
Queasy fliers need read no further.
Williams said the results showed a 10-to-40 percent increase in the median strength of turbulence and a 40-to-170 percent increase in the frequency of moderate-or-greater turbulence. He described the latter as shaking that is “strong enough to force the pilot to switch on the seat-belt sign, knock over drinks, and make it difficult to walk.”
The explanation is that global warming is expected to draw the jet stream further north, creating more of the vertical wind shear that causes turbulence.
Joshi said choppier skies might prompt pilots to reroute their flights. Pilots interviewed by The Associated Press, however, said as far as the busy North Atlantic flight corridor was concerned, the planes were just as likely just to power through.
“You just got to grin and bear it,” said Steven Draper, a retired airline pilot.

Tagged as:

No tags for this article
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (1 posted)

hotel in delhi 12/05/2013 01:54:55
very good post...
total: 1 | displaying: 1 - 1

Post your comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:


Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT