Travel Safety Tips

Old May 16, 03, 9:21 am
  #1  
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Travel Safety Tips

A weekly e-newsletter I get has once each month at the end of the newsletter a different topic asking for input to share. This month's 'topic of the month': safety travel tips.
Thought I'd pass along what's been posted so far. Wasn't certain whether to post it in travelbuzz since input could apply to everyone or here, but decided since the majority of respondants/tipsters were female, I'd post in women travelers. There are a couple of suggestions for men too. Techgirl, feel free to leave here or move.

* Always put room/car keys in the same place so I am never fumbling to findthem.
* Travel w/ a small flash light (to find an exit if there is a loss ofelectricity), and 2 door stops (for hotels w/ no dead bolts, I prop them under the door at night).
* Turn restaurant/bar checks upside down & wait for them to be taken (no one knows my room # to charge a bill or find my room)
* *Never* touch a drink that has left my sight. (Several female friends,while traveling, have had a drug slipped into their drink while it was out of sight).
* When I have to self-park, I check in and take my luggage/handbag to my room, then park the car burden-free.
* *Never* take a room at the end of the hall or where the emergency exit is.(Hiding place for attackers)

When traveling in a "third-world" country (you will know you are in one when you get there) for any length of time, I make it a point to ALWAYS retain the services of a local "guide." This person must be an English- (or French-) speaking local who has lived in the US for some period of time (so
they will understand that you are not as ignorant as you may seem to be in their environment). At a cost of $20-30 per day (with a nice tip on your safe departure), this precaution could save your life and will make your trip more productive and enjoyable.

Two suggestions for hotels:
* Ask for a room near the stairway/elevator so you don't have to make a long trek down the corridor to your room. Notice the location of emergency exit and the relationship to your room the first time you go to your room.
* Travel with a business card-sized flashlight. Place it, your room keys,
wallet or purse and shoes on or near the table next to the bed when you
retire. (Add a wrap if you'd be embarrassed to be seen in your sleeping attire!) Severe storms, earthquakes, fire alarms, and electrical problemshave all triggered evacuation signals in hotels I've stayed in; most of the other folks in the parking lots weren't prepared.

* In airports, don't put your luggage down without maintaining some type of physical contact with it. Put it between your legs or keep one hand touching it. I've seen luggage get stolen right in front me, while witnessing one of those "spill the coffee" scams to distract someone waiting to get their luggage. That taught me.
* Always look like you know where you are going. There is an erect body stance, head poised without confusion, and movements that look like they know where they are going that send a message: I know what I am doing here. Leave me alone. It's deep acting, and you'll also feel more confident --
especially if you are going outdoors at night in an area you know nothing
about.

I have not carried a billfold for years, preferring to fold bills and place
them in my left pants pocket. When going out at night, I will fold bills into 2 rolls, the smaller one with about $20 in it, and the other with the major amount. That way if I reach in my pocket, I can pull out enough to make it worth his while, and still have some left over. Credit cards, license, etc. are placed in a small business card carrier.

I like to walk for exercise. For those times when I get in too late to walk in the daylight, I have identified places in cities that I frequent where I can safely walk after dark. A great example is Olde Town Pasadena. It is about a six-block area that is very busy in the evening. There are valet
parking stands every half-block, outdoor cafes, and lots of security. I can
walk those six blocks, cross the street, and walk back as many times as I want to get the amount of walk-time I crave. Then jump in the rental car or taxi and back to my hotel.

I use a Door Stop Alarm in all my hotel rooms. It is a wedge-shaped door stop with rubber on the bottom to keep from slipping on carpet or tile floors. I use this alarm to block a door from being opened. If anyone triesto open the door, a 125db alarm will sound. There is also a movement sensor
with adjustable sensitivity to activate the alarm if tampered with. An on/off switch allows the alarm to be turned off so that it doesn't go off in your luggage. Requires one 9-volt battery. Costs: $14 on most Web sites
including http://www.personalarms.com . Great investment for peace of mind and small enough to easily pack.

* I provide a close friend or relative with my itinerary (complete details of airline flight numbers, arrival/departure, destinations, 800 number to call, hotel name, dates there, phone/address, rental car info, etc). When I arrive safely to destinations I either make a quick phone call or send an email (even when overseas) to let my contact know all is all right. If they don't hear from me, they have all the info to track me down or turn to the
airline/hotel, etc, in trying to trace me.

* If someone knocks on my door from the hotel and I'm not expecting anyone,
I contact the front desk to confirm who it is before opening the door.



[This message has been edited by SkiAdcock (edited 05-23-2003).]
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Old May 23, 03, 9:47 am
  #2  
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This week's tips:

• To keep your passport safe when traveling overseas, bring along some duct
tape and a small plastic bag. Slip your passport inside the bag and tape it
underneath your hotel room dresser, under the bed, even under the lid of the
toilet tank. Also make two copies of the page with your photo and passport
number -- leave one at home and keep the other separate from your passport
when traveling.

• When visiting a town or city new to you, go online beforehand or phone the
local tourist office to see where are the taxi stands, public buildings open
at night, etc. so you can get your bearings and avoid "looking like a
tourist." You may as wear a sign saying "mug me." Look purposeful.

• Stow your belongings in an overhead bin across the aisle. The bin over
your own seat is invisible to you.

• Before passing through security, transfer everything metal, including
coins from your pockets, to your carry-on before it goes through the x-ray.
If you don't, you'll be asked to empty your pockets into a bowl that has
already carried the pocket contents of many other passengers, some of whom
have colds or other diseases.

Dave Walters, a senior manager for corporate safety and security at Cisco
Systems, says that most hotel crimes (such as assault and theft) are
committed in guest rooms. The following reminders will help keep you safe on
the road:
• If the front desk staff verbally announces your room number, and others
hear him, request another room.
• Although elevators are noisy, you don't want to be too far away from them
at the end of a long, winding hall with no easy exit.
•When inside your room, use the chain lock and deadbolt. Always use the
peephole to identify room service, housekeeping, or maintenance. If you're
not expecting a hotel employee, call down to the front desk to confirm the
service before opening the door.
• Ground floor rooms are prime targets for thieves, but higher rooms pose
greater fire safety risks. Always request a room higher than the ground
floor but lower than the fifth floor.
• Pack two small rubber doorstops, one for the main door, and one for an
adjoining door. Even if an intruder can get past your lock, the person won't
be able to open the door. Doorstops are easily removed in the event of a
fire.
• Women traveling alone might consider bringing along a man's shirt and tie
and leaving it on the chair to give the illusion of a male presence.
• When I travel alone, I always turn on the shower before accepting a room
service delivery, to create the impression someone else is there.
• If returning to the hotel late at night, I ask hotel security to escort me
to my room, enter first, and turn on the lights.
• Don't take valuable jewelry on the road with you if possible. If you must,
never leave it out for display in your room. Use the in-room security box or
the hotel safe.
• When you're not in your room, make potential thieves believe the room is
occupied. Find out the housekeeping schedule, leave the "do not disturb"
sign out, and leave the TV or radio at an audible level.

• Kevin Coffey, LAPD Detective, suggests putting luggage in the overhead
rack across from your seat. You never know what someone is doing with your
luggage right overhead when they fumble around up there.

• He also mentioned that if someone were to remove your laptop from a restroom, and you are ableto follow him out immediately, do not expect him to be carrying it like
everyone else. Look rather for someone carrying an object in front of himself, shielding it from view of someone behind him.

• As someone who has been scammed outside tourist hotels, I can tell you there are often tourist assistants who can alert you to local scams. The man with daughter on shoulders who needs $10 for gas to get home, the homeless woman who needs to get into a shelter whose four children died in a house fire, the man who will gladly show you his scars and who needs to get his
car out of impoundment. Quick advice: simply slow them down, and look for the obvious holes in their story. A scam artist will often alternate between beseeching and threatening. The pace and keeping you off balance are a lot of what it is about. You wish they would go away and they make it more likely that you will feel that way. When you slow them down, see whether
they will honor your request, or simply speed up again. That would tell you the difference between someone who does this for a living, and someone truly experiencing this difficulty for the first time.

• Carry along any terrorist remedies, e.g. Cipriol, for anthrax. You may not be able to get it immediately where you are.

• If you typically carry an epi-kit for insect stings, they are pricey, about $50 per shot. Get your physician to prescribe 1-ml ampules of epinephrine and needles, which can run under $5 per ampule and needle. It's a little more trouble, but you can also have spares in the car, backpack,
luggage, etc.

• Figure out the "count in the dark" way from your hotel room to the fire exit. In other words, if you couldn't see very well, how many door frames you would have to feel to get to the exit? Supposedly the fire exit lights will stay on in a fire or other emergency, but this lets you make sure you know you can get there even if they are off.

• Always sleep in opaque (non-see-through) nightclothes. Robes take up a lot of suitcase room.

• Keeping your shoes by your bed is a good idea. Then put your room key, wallet with credit cards, etc., small flashlight and so forth under the covers with you. This will help you in case of emergency. And if someone breaks into your room while you are sleeping, they won't find valuables to take.

• At night, prop a desk chair under the door knob -- an old trick that keeps anyone even with a key from getting the door open. If this does not work (as it does not with some chairs), put the desk chair behind the door. Perch a closed hard plastic box with a few marbles in it on the edge. Any jostling of the door will send the box to the floor, making a loud noise.



------------------
Sharon
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Old May 30, 03, 9:46 am
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Take 3 on the tips...

* When you have a concern about a hotel's security practices, you are more likely to see meaningful action taken if you notify the hotel's General Manager than if you lodge your complain with a front-desk agent or security supervisor. If the General Manager is not available, ask to speak to the
designated MOD (Manager on Duty or Manager of the Day). The MOD is typically required to log all incidences occurring during his or her time on duty, so there will be a record of your concern. I recently received a non-working door key, and the security officer who responded let me into my room without requesting any identification. That is totally unacceptable and should be
reported immediately!

* Maintain a current passport for everyone in your family, including your children. Photocopy the two adjacent pages (with picture and ID info) of everyone's passport. Cut and laminate. This works as another form of identification for you and your children as you travel anywhere in the world.

* The Tampa police dept constantly warn meeting attendees to remove their badges prior to walking out on the street. A badge can be a homing device for criminals that know you probably will not be around after the conference or convention to testify even if they are caught.

* I always carry my wallet and money in the front pocket of my pants. It's the safest place against pickpockets. In the back pocket they can easily steal it when you go up the stairs or even slice the pocket with razor blades and take the wallet. The inside pocket of the jacket is not safe also because
it's easy to put it away from the body (so you don't feel the wallet going) and steal the wallet.

* I always take all the important stuff (paper, wallet, keys) with me on the platform because there are some people who would take advantage of your speaking on the platform for an hour by searching your belongings.



------------------
Sharon
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Old May 30, 03, 11:02 am
  #4  
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by SkiAdcock:

When traveling in a "third-world" country (you will know you are in one when you get there) for any length of time, I make it a point to ALWAYS retain the services of a local "guide." This person must be an English- (or French-) speaking local who has lived in the US for some period of time (so
they will understand that you are not as ignorant as you may seem to be in their environment). At a cost of $20-30 per day (with a nice tip on your safe departure), this precaution could save your life and will make your trip more productive and enjoyable.

</font>
Sharon, there are some excellent ideas in the tips you posted, but the one above just made me laugh. I am more concerned for personal safety in the US/London than in most of the 3rd world countries I've been to! And paying that amount of money per day in many of the countries I've been to is about 10 times the weekly wage - which just adds to the fallacy of the rich Americans, which ultimately causes more problems in the long term.

But thanks for posting them - some of them I never thought of before.
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Old Jun 6, 03, 8:40 am
  #5  
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A few more...

* With everything happening in our world right now, it is important that we stay in tune with our internal guidance system. That part of our makeup, sometimes referred to as our Spirit, can alert us of any impending danger. Too many times our intellect -- the part of us that thinks it's running the show -- overrides our intuition, and not wanting to appear foolish, we ignore our internal warnings and wind up getting hurt or worse.

* I devised a surefire way to find out if it is safe to walk around the area near a hotel. I walk up to the front desk and ask if it is safe to walk near the hotel. Almost always, the hotel employee answers, "Yes." Then, I look the employee in the eye and slowly ask, "Would you let your mother or sister walk alone in the area around the hotel?" Amazingly, about 1/3 of the time,
the employee says s/he would not, although the employee previously told me it is safe! If the hotel employee says it is safe, I then go through the same questions with a different hotel desk clerk or manager. If both say it is safe, then I feel confident it is safe.

*Get in the habit of locking all doors of your car the minute you enter. Rental cars may not have the auto lock feature and it may be slightly inconvenient but it is well worth the trouble. A good friend of mine, who
was driving away from a presentation at an urban hospital, got robbed and raped. She was stopped at a stop light when her attacker opened the unlocked passenger door and slid into the car. We've all gotten used to putting on our seat belts. Locking all doors should become similarly automatic.


------------------
Sharon
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Old Jun 7, 03, 11:57 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by SkiAdcock:
* Ask for a room near the stairway/elevator so you don't have to make a long trek down the corridor to your room. Notice the location of emergency exit and the relationship to your room the first time you go to your room... </font>
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2"> Figure out the "count in the dark" way from your hotel room to the fire exit. In other words, if you couldn't see very well, how many door frames you would have to feel to get to the exit? </font>
Sharon, very helpful tips indeed! If a non-Woman Traveler might offer a link re hotels, this earlier FT thread on "How to Survive a Hotel Fire" is eye-opening.

http://www.flyertalk.com/travel/fttr...ML/003721.html

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2"> To keep your passport safe ...Also make two copies of the page with your photo and passport number -- leave one at home and keep the other separate from your passport
when traveling.
</font>
You can also scan these and send them as an attachment to a webmail address. That way you can access copies anywhere there is internet access and a printer.

[This message has been edited by cblaisd (edited 06-07-2003).]
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Old May 18, 09, 6:39 pm
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I honestly love this board but I have to say this was some of the best information I have received. I do hope more follows!!!

THANK YOU
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Old May 27, 09, 2:18 pm
  #8  
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Smile World is not that dangerous

Hello-

Here is my favorite advice from this FABULOUS list:

* Always look like you know where you are going. There is an erect body stance, head poised without confusion, and movements that look like they know where they are going that send a message: I know what I am doing here. Leave me alone. It's deep acting, and you'll also feel more confident --
especially if you are going outdoors at night in an area you know nothing
about.

My suggestions:
Travel confident, be smart, don't go to dangerous places, stay away from places where there is likely to be crime, do some research and don't be on the London underground trains after the pubs are closed-- only stay in a hotel that will offer safety.
Yes, there are robbers out there and muggers (I hear) and bad people.
In all my years of travel I have only ever once felt in danger--and that was in ROME, walking down stairs to the train station around 11am.
Two gypsy girls and a woman suddenly moved toward me with the clear intention of stealing my shoulder bag. There was no-one else nearby though it was a public place. I started (involuntarily) screaming very loudly and insistently and they were so shocked they ran away. I shocked myself! It was over in seconds. I suggest: if you feel yourself in danger, start screaming, yell for help, loudly and run.
Otherwise-do the 'power walk' and look intentional, powerful, fast, energetic, (never drunk or tipsy), and very 'don't touch me' or 'stay away' and you will be fine.
Note: the only time I felt in danger was in Kabul some years ago. Otherwise, the world is a friendly, great place. Don't travel scared but do 'power walk' and be smart. Happy trails!
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Old May 27, 09, 3:04 pm
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It's certainly better to do the "power walk" than not to do it. But muggers aren't completely stupid, so they know why someone would project/fake a confident stance or walk and attack nonetheless.

So you have to be prepared to scream, run, fight, run (in that order). Don't be scared to be really brutal if you are attacked by someone with superior force or weapons. The self-defense laws are on your side if you keep the proportions. Obviously, if somebody slaps you in the face and runs of with your purse and you finish him with five bullets in the back, that is not self-defense anymore.

I got some CS and some pepper spray for my GF. And I taught her how to use it. The CS goes in the purse, the pepper spray hangs by the house door.

I also urged her to take a self-defense class for women but she didn't want to saying that that would only scare her more. She didn't even want to read these safety tips when I told her about it.

What's a guy to do?
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Old May 27, 09, 3:55 pm
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im a dude...but i have worked in a ghettho part of town before during the graveyard shift... best advice is to tote around your favorite beverage in a glass bottle...ive scared off some wannabe thug kids that tried to mug me by breaking it and holding the neck....

i say glass bottle cause you can hold it in your hand even though itll convert to a deadly weapon in half a second...its funny how fast muggers run when the person they thought was and easy target is now armed...
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Old May 27, 09, 5:12 pm
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Thanks for the good suggestions. But I was amused by this germophobe:

Before passing through security, transfer everything metal, including
coins from your pockets, to your carry-on before it goes through the x-ray.
If you don't, you'll be asked to empty your pockets into a bowl that has
already carried the pocket contents of many other passengers, some of whom
have colds or other diseases.
.

Your coins already have germs on them from all the people who have handled them before you--unless of course you clean each one.
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Old May 27, 09, 5:53 pm
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You can also scan these and send them as an attachment to a webmail address. That way you can access copies anywhere there is internet access and a printer.

Great idea for passport copy availability, I want to do this tomorrow
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Old May 28, 09, 12:16 am
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You would be doing a greater service to women travelers by posting this somewhere on FT that is more likely to be read by all members, you know like maybe Travel Safety and Security.

Nothing I have read so far is solely a women's issue. Regarding having a flashlight at the bedside, here's what I'm getting my girlfriend. While it costs a lot more than a simple penlight, it's worth it.
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Old May 30, 09, 7:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
Regarding having a flashlight at the bedside, here's what I'm getting my girlfriend. While it costs a lot more than a simple penlight, it's worth it.
I've never seen anything like that. What a great idea. I've already had mace confiscated at airports. The screeners can't take this light away from me. ^
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Old May 30, 09, 8:09 pm
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The most scared I've ever been when traveling was in a decent hotel on Miami Beach. Not only was the door lock flimsy, but I found I could open the in room safe without knowing the combination. It's not always a third world problem.

I always take my purse, my cellphone and my valuables into the bathroom with me when I shower. I've known women who had items stolen while they were in the shower.

I do not allow hotel employees to call me by name. I don't want other people to be able to do so.
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