I recently had the opportunity to travel to Nuremberg, Germany on business. That flight consisted of flying through Atlanta International Airport, Paris France International Airport and then over to Nuremberg. On the return trip, I traveled through Amersterdam. With that said I had to traverse through multiple security checkpoints and Customs. Knowing this ahead of time allowed me to plan for what I would be packing in my bags. It’s vitally important to do your homework before traveling to know what you can and cannot pack in both checked luggage as well as your carry-on. For this specific trip, I did not check any baggage, which restricted what I could bring with me from an EDC and personal protection standpoint.
Knowing that TSA is catching on to the ‘tactical pen’ market, I decided not to carry my tac pen. Instead, I decided to carry a normal Zebra stainless steel barreled pen. In addition to that pen, I also carried my Olight M18 Striker flashlight. Both of these items flowed seamlessly through all airport security and customs. Between these two items and my Crye Precision Ballistic backpack insert, I felt confident in my personal security. The rest is situational awareness and thinking outside the box.
Once I was on the ground in Germany and checked into my hotel I started to assess things and determine what would be on my person and in my daypack as I traversed the city. I carry a few staple items in my daypack anywhere I go, whether it’s domestic or international. The first thing is my TSA approved SERE/Survival kit contained in a SealLine pouch. The following list is the items carried in that kit.
- SOL Emergency blanket
- Bic lighter inside an Exotac waterproof case
- Small Streamlight Microstream flashlight
- Frontier Survival Straw
- Promethius Design Werx Compass
Also carried at all times were my passport, flashlight, local currency and my wallets.
Before heading out into the city I obtained two local maps; One full size fold out map and a mini map that I kept strapped to my front pocket wallet. The mini map would serve as a backup if I had my pack taken for whatever reason. Always have backup plans when traveling, especially overseas.
As you see in the above photo I have two wallets for a specific reason. The larger Flowfold Vanguard wallet stays in my back pocket with some local currency and other cards that are useless to anyone else. The smaller Flowfold Minimalist wallet stays in my front pocket with my photo ID, passport card, credit card and hotel key. Attached to the outside of that wallet is my backup mini map.
By setting my wallets up this way, if I happen to get pickpocketed somewhere along the line, I still have what I really need in my front pocket wallet. Even if some punk attempts to rob me, I can throw them the wallet from my back pocket which will contain some local currency and useless cards. To them, that may be enough to stop harassing you and move onto the next person. Little do they know that you have your ‘real’ wallet in another location.
Speaking of local currency, I prefer to have a minimum of $200 on me at all times. This can be used obviously for shopping and eating, but more importantly, could be used for bribery or to obtain transportation if you need to egress due to some type of hostile threat to the local area.
Be mindful of protests and have a known egress plan. This can be accomplished by looking at a local map or using your smartphone to pull up Google maps, which may be faster if the situation quickly escalates. During my stay in Germany, I was met with a local protest that was coming down the street I happened to be walking on. There was a strong police presence with riot gear. I was able to pinpoint my location on Google Maps and locate an egress route in case shit went south.
A good tip when walking through crowds of people or something like this is to carry a cup of coffee (if you’re a coffee drinker). That cup of hot coffee can be used to create a diversion if you find yourself too close for comfort and need to get the hell out of dodge. Hot coffee thrown onto someone or in their face will give you a few precious seconds to escape and evade.
It’s also good to know the location of the closest airport and a secondary airport, train stations and hospitals when traveling.
Two other areas you’ll want to pay attention to are your comms (cell phone) and credit card.
Comms – Before you travel overseas you’ll want to check with your cell provider that your phone will work in the countries you are visiting and what temporary changes will need to be made to your plan so you don’t get hit with expensive roaming charges. I use Verizon, so it was easy to log into my account online and add the TravelPass feature just for the days I’ll be overseas which amounts to $10/day. Your other option is to purchase a standalone burner phone such as Tracphone and add the appropriate calling plan to it or have the ability to install an international sim card.
Credit Card – Same as with your cell phone, you’ll want to contact your credit card company and/or bank to inform them of your travel dates and where you’ll be traveling. The last thing you’ll want happening is your cards being disabled because your financial institution thinks those are fraudulent charges. Most of the time this can be done online through your account. Another route to go is prepaid Visa cards. The advantage to the prepaid cards is that they are in no way linked to your bank or credit cards. If you lose or misplace it, you’re only out the money on the card and it has no ties to your financial institutions.
So in a nutshell, if you want to go the extra mile to play it safe go for the burner phone, local currency and prepaid Visa cards.
Hope this short guide helps you as you plan your next trip. Safe travels!
*Photos and video courtesy of the author