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A US Citizen's Guide to Travel Safety Abroad

By: Janet Ambrose
Many people travel abroad for various reasons, including vacationing, visiting relatives, and studying at an international university. Travelers generally arrive safely; however, some may fall victims to crime, violence, sickness, and other unexpected difficulties. United States citizens can rest assure that help resides in one of the 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Even though consulate services are offered in foreign countries, travelers can take preventative action to ensure their safety while in distress. Some events require government intervention, such as political uprisings, terrorist attacks, pandemics, and natural disasters. Thankfully, most problems can be solved over the phone or making a personal visit to the nearest consulate office or insider emergency services. United States citizens and other foreign people who need assistance can often depend on emergency preparedness groups, such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, to provide medical assistance, food, and shelter during trying times.

Travelers can begin by preparing when they pack for the trip. For instance, travelers should minimize indicators of their tourist status. Do not wear expensive jewelry, shoes, or watches that may draw unwanted attention. In addition, travel lightly to avoid carrying luggage around expansive airports. Only carry a minimum number of valuables, and conceal them in places where wandering eyes won't see them. Secure all passports, cash, credit cards, and other important documents within a hotel room. Stash these items in an unexpected spot if carrying on one's person. Leave a copy of the flight itinerary with family and friends to open a communication line to ease their minds. Get acquainted with the laws of the country where the plane plans to touch down. This will prevent future legal problems with any local law enforcement agencies. Obtain a quote on travel insurance in the unlikelihood of an injury.

Traveling abroad requires using the same common sense applied on neighboring streets. Pay special attention to high-crime rate places, such as crowded subways, train stations, tourist sites, elevators, festivals, and market places. Do not travel alone at night. Keep a low profile and avoid participating in loud conversations. Beware of pickpocket and other scam artists. This applies to securing all personal property and assets into a secure box before leaving the hotel room. Always inform somebody of expected return times. Other important areas that require special attention include knowing when to safely drive across several destinations, how to handle money safely, and how to avoid future legal difficulties. Do not carry illegal narcotics, firearms, or take photographs without the permission of the establishment's security firm. Violating the aforementioned suggestion could potentially land travelers in the country's jail cell. Lastly, remain vigilant of any potential dangers, and contact the nearest agency for immediate assistance. It could save the life of others, including friends, family, traveling companions, and other local travelers

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