How to Travel Abroad without Getting Arrested, Kidnapped, or Killed
The world can be a dangerous place. Follow these tips to stay safe and sound.
Step 1: Check state department Avoid countries listed under the State Department's current travel warnings, and steer clear of pirate-infested waters. Go to travel.state.gov for more information.
TIP: Register your itinerary at the State Department's website so the embassies or consulates of the countries you are visiting can contact you in case of an emergency.
Step 2: Research Research the country you plan to visit by studying its tourism site and paying special attention to any advisories. Also check out online travel forums to find out about laws and crime trends you may be unfamiliar with.
Step 3: Don't look valuable Don't look valuable. Dress down, travel light, and carry just one or two credit or bank cards. Consider using a money belt or neck wallet to store important documents, and never carry more cash than you need. For extra safety, put a decoy wallet with a little cash in your back pocket.
TIP: Take note of your credit card limit. In some countries, exceeding your limit is a criminal offense.
Step 4: Be safe on transit Stay safe on when traveling within a country by riding public transportation with a partner when possible and hailing only clearly marked taxis. On overnight trains sleep in shifts to avoid theft or assault, and on buses sit up front, near the driver.
Step 5: Be aware Be aware of those around you. If you suspect you're being followed, circle random blocks and frequently check behind you; if you're being tailed, contact the authorities immediately or head directly to a police station or a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Step 6: Don't bring drugs Never use or carry illegal drugs in a foreign country. For a complete list of drug laws, contact the country's embassy in the U.S. before your trip.
Step 7: Use common sense Use common sense. Maintain a low profile, respect local customs, and always carry contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates. Most importantly, never engage in risky behavior that wouldn't be acceptable back home. Now bon voyage, and be safe!
FACT: More than one-third of all Americans incarcerated abroad are held on drug charges.