Traveling abroad can be an exceptionally stressful adventure, especially when you consider your additional requirements if traveling on the job, particularly with clients. Below are some helpful tips for increasing overall security as well as convenience that should make your travel plans more enjoyable and more secure.
Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information:
Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa if required, also fill in the emergency information page of your passport or add another page if desired.
Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program:
You may elect to let the State Department aware of your travel plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free online service at https://travelregistration.state.gov. This will help them contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
Check for and Monitor Updated Travel Warnings & Alerts
The US Department of State publishes travel warnings and alerts that you to consider very carefully if you are going to a country in question. Travel Alerts & Warnings are published for events such as election seasons, unstable governments, planned demonstrations, health alerts, increased crime/violence or an elevated risk of terrorist attack.
Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page:
Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with trusted contacts so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage:
Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws:
While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department website at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit. Check the Overseas Security Council for travel warnings-
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime:
Keep a low profile but do not travel alone and avoid identifying yourself as a traveler, especially as an American. To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry.
Be aware of what may get you detained or arrested in another country and know what to do if it happens:
One of the highest priorities of the Department of State and the individual U.S. embassies is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated or detained in another country. The Department of State is ready to assist incarcerated or detained citizens in accordance with international law, as well as domestic and that foreign country’s laws.
Contact the State Department in an emergency:
Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens.
1-888-407-4747 – U.S. or Canada
202-501-4444 – Overseas
Health, What You Need to Know in Advance of Travel:
All travelers should familiarize themselves with conditions at their destination that could affect their health (high altitude or pollution, types of medical facilities, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, etc.). While some of this information may be found in the documents listed above, the key resource for health information is the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/travel The CDC website also provides general guidance on health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite protection.
Keep track of your flight arrangements, gate information and itinerary changes.
There are several apps you can use, such as FlightAware and FlightView. These apps (or their webpages) give you updated flight information. Another trick to this is to simply google your flight number and the updated information is presented, (results shown). FYI, this has been the method which has been the quickest in terms of updating gate information, etc. Also, FlySmart is a great app for finding what is available in airports, such as restaurants, shops and it also gives you a map of the airport.
Sign up for Rewards Programs, VIP Lounge programs.
If you are a frequent flier, and/or plan on spending a lot of time in airports, frequent flier programs, like AAdvantage and lounge programs like LoungeClub, offer excellent rewards, free checked bags, free upgrades, additional privacy, increased security during layovers and much needed convenience which may be exceptionally useful, even if you would simply rather miss the traffic on the way to the airport and arrive early. Find the program that is most effective given your expected travel plans, most plans have websites or apps where you can find lounges at destination airports, compare rewards, etc.
Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP® is currently employed as a senior partner managing and conducting: Protective Operations Training Courses, Executive Protection & Bodyguard Services, Risk Management Consultations & Seminars, Workplace Violence Prevention Seminars & Intervention Services, Security Consultations & Seminars, Private Investigations and Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures with LaSorsa & Associates – an International Protection, Investigations & Consulting Firm.