Airport Security Travel Tips

TRAVEL ABROAD

ACCOMMODATIONS
Stay in quality hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security. Stay on lower level floors in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly. Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars.

Close and lock your hotel room door at all times. Check sliding glass doors, windows, and connecting room doors. Acquaint yourself with the location of stairways, fire escapes, exits, and alarms.

Do not answer your hotel room door without verifying who it is. Never invite strangers into your room.

Keep your valuables in the hotel safe or locked in your luggagr with a secure lock. Take your passport with when you leave the room, and protect it.

DRESS
Follow local dress codes. In religious countries, exposed skin is an affront. Clothing should cover your arms, legs, and neck - women should wear a scarf over their hair.

When swimming or sunbathing, don't be an exhibitionist; follow the local practice.

Dress appropriately for the occasion. When in doubt, dress conservatively.

Wear conservative colors. Bright colors identify you as a tourist – Hawaiian prints say American tourist. In the tropics, however, dark colors absorb the heat and are neither stylish nor practical.

Wear practical shoes. Blisters and sore feet can spoil any trip. Certainly take dress shoes if you expect to need them. Skip the pointy heels; they aren't practical for any occasion. Take one or two pairs of comfortable, conservative walking shoes as your primary footwear. If sneakers are your only comfortable shoes, bring them, but realize that they will mark you as a tourist – might as well bring the Hawaiian shirt; you can wear it with the sneakers.

Don’t buy new shoes for the trip unless you buy them weeks before you depart and wear them often so that they are comfortable.

ETIQUETTE
Learn the language, or at least a few useful phrases like “where is the bathroom”. Before leaving home, make up several pocket cards with key phrases in the local language. While struggling with another language, be calm, gracious, and friendly. The locals appreciate your efforts, especially if you are courteous.

Learn the local customs - avoid cultural taboos. Don’t play with your chopsticks in China, remove your shoes when appropriate in Japan, and forget the doggy bag in France.

HEALTH
Before you depart, contact your health insurance company. Find out what your policy covers, possibly nothing in a foreign country. If you have specific medical concerns, ask for the names of doctors in your destination.

Take a First-Aid kit. Bring the basic treatment for scrapes, blisters, and sunburn, as well as painkillers, but leave the snakebite kit at home – unless, of course, you’re a visiting a place where that is a risk.

Ask your doctor for prescriptions that you might need on your trip for infections or intestinal disorders. It will save you a lot of aggravation and discomfort if you have them with you, just in case. Ask your doctor to include the generic drug name on the prescription - if you decide to fill it at your destination, the pharmacy might not be familiar with the other name.

Carry all prescriptions in their original containers, showing your name on the labels. This will help inspectors confirm that these are legal drugs.

Stock up on your medications. Bring double the supply that you might normally need. When traveling, pack half of the supply in your luggage and carry the rest with you. If your luggage (or carry-on bag) is lost in transit, you have your other supply.

If you're diabetic, have your doctor write a note, advising authorities why you must carry syringes.

When traveling to another country, pack your favorite brands of toiletries, even a supply of items that you don't expect to need. Few countries have the broad selection we do in the United States, and far-flung regions may not have them at all.

Pack an extra pair of contact lenses.

Regarding local foods, use common sense. Don't red meat in Great Britain,don't eat sushi without reliable assurances that the raw fish is safe. If you can't drink the water, don't have ice in your drinks - use bottle water to brush your teeth.

Avoid food from street vendors - the risks today are just too great.

LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
Taxis or rental cars are recommended for transfers. Most airports, cruise terminals, and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and rental car pick up. Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or is not in a designated area.

If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.

Lock your car doors while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you don't know. Police cars will have blue and red lights; do not stop for cars flashing their high-beams.

SECURITY
Be sure your passport, visas, driver's license, and other ID are valid and have accurate photographs. If any ID is expiring before you return from your trip, get a new one before you leave. Without valid identification, you will be barred from traveling. Complete the emergency information section and sign your passport.

Make two copies of your passport identification page. Leave one copy at home with friends. Carry the other copy with you in a separate place from your passport. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is stolen or lost.

Cooperate with authorities and airport personnel. Expect long waits to get through security check points and keep identification handy for security checks at parking lots, curbside check-in, ticket counters, security gates, airport gates, and on the plane.

Be patient, respectful, and cooperative with officials who might stop and question you. Do not make any inappropriate comments. Authorities will take them seriously and detain you for extensive questioning.

Do not leave your luggage unattended in a public area, and do not accept packages from strangers.

If you see suspicious activity or a suspicious object, contact an authority immediately.

PERSONAL SAFETY
Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends so they can contact you in an emergency or notify authorities if you are missing.

Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary publicly. During your trip, vary your daily routine, if possible. Do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room.

Be alert for surveillance, especially in high-risk countries. Kidnappers and extortionists identify their targets and then watch their potential victims to determine daily patterns.

Maintain a low profile. Dress down and blend in with the locals as much as possible. Don't look conspicuous.

Do not display large amounts of cash or travelers checks. Leave the expensive jewelry and watches at home. Look like a person of modest means.

Whenever you use your credit card, keep an eye on it until it is returned to you. Always check your credit card when it is returned to verify that it is your credit card.

Pickpockets and thieves operate throughout many cities around the world, but especially near tourist attractions.

Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but separate from where you are carrying your passport.

Be careful when going out at night. Get advice from your hotel concierge or other trusted source about reputable restaurants and other entertainment. Watch your drinks being poured and never accept a drink from a stranger. Avoid being out on the streets late at night. Have your hotel arrange for car service or taxi service and know the addresses and directions before getting in the car.

If you are unfamiliar with the local language, carry a card or matchbook with the hotel's name and address. You can show the card or matchbook to a cab driver or police officer if you get lost.

When returning to your hotel at night, use the main entrance. Be observant before entering parking lots.

If you are visiting a high-risk country, contact the U.S. Embassy there on your arrival to advise them of your presence.

Avoid disturbances and civil demonstrations, as they may become violent. Seek safe shelter away from the disturbance as quickly as possible.

If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy.


© 2003 Garris Travel Service