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Travel Smarter, Not Harder: Tips for Getting Around

5 Jul. 2017 Posted by aadams

Carol Hill, FEI Crisis Management Associate

Have you ever been a victim of travel? Lost luggage? Credit fraud? Maybe you had a personal belonging stolen. These events can leave a traveler feeling annoyed, aggravated and anxious. In the ever-changing world we live in, travelers are taking additional precautions to prevent becoming victims of travel.

I compiled some helpful tips that I’ve learned along the way—and some additional information I wish I had known before traveling. These tips and tools address all types of travel concerns including the safety and well-being of the traveler.

Financial

Avoid using free Wi-Fi where possible. Free Wi-Fi can make it easier for someone to obtain data from your computer. A mobile hotspot with a virtual private network (VPN) can be a safer alternative. Many businesses have invested in a VPN for their employees, but there are free VPN hosts as well (TunnelBear and Windscribe are two popular choices). If you do plan to use a Wi-Fi connection, ensure that it’s from a reputable institution and always verify the network name.

Data vulnerabilities can also surround hotel business concierge areas. Since these computers are typically for public use, be cautious when entering passwords or looking up private information, as passwords can accidently be saved in the cache or history of the web browser.

Credit fraud can occur when your credit or debit card information is stolen. Buying a few prepaid credit cards should prevent your bank information or credit account from vulnerability since they are not linked to your actual accounts. (Bonus tip: Some prepaid credit cards can also provide a better currency exchange rate.)

Social

Translation issues can cause confusion and anxiety. Mobile phones often help bridge language gaps by directly translating or providing translation phrases. There are many translation apps available, which range in purchase price to unique services available.

A mobile charger that is fully charged should be a necessity for every traveler, especially since we use mobile devices so frequently. A mobile charger ensures you have a way to contact help during an emergency. Just remember to bring along your charging cable!

Always be aware of your situation. If you feel uneasy about an environment or your surroundings, follow your instincts and move away from the area. Keeping yourself alert and aware may help you deter anyone looking for an “easy target” to steal from.

Personal Safety

Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows you to register with the nearest embassy or consulate in areas you might visit. STEP also allows you to receive updates and travel alerts. In the event of a threat or emergency, STEP may be able to contact you directly. You can enroll online. It’s a good idea to have the U.S. consulate number and passport emergency numbers in your mobile directory, just in case.

Finally, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or call these overseas citizens services in the event of an emergency:

From the U.S./Canada: 1-888-407-4747

From Overseas: +1 202-501-4444

And to report a lost or stolen passport:

From the U.S./Canada: 1-888-407-4747

From Overseas: +1 202-501-4444

Remember that in the event of an international crisis or threat where an evacuation is initiated, it is the responsibility of the citizen to reimburse the government the cost of travel to a
safe location.

For more information on these tips and other safe travel advice, please visit the U.S. Department of State website. Don’t be a victim of travel—stay prepared, knowledgeable and safe!

 

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