The prudent traveler wisely researches the security and safety risks inherent in every trip.
Recent news provokes panic as an alarming number of stories of terrorist activity and armed shooter scenarios dominate the Internet and the airwaves. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t visit foreign locations or that no parts of some countries are safe. Americans should not be deterred from exploring the world. But citizens traveling abroad should do so with knowledge of the country and extreme caution.
BusinessNews.com reports that more than 80 percent of business travelers voice deep concern about safety abroad, less than 50 percent research security and safety risks before making travel plans. A recently released Ipsos Global Advisor study interviewed participants about their concerns and preparations when traveling abroad. The study included over 10,500 business travelers from thirteen countries. The study included over 2,500 senior executives. One in three international trips were to countries with higher safety and security risk ratings than the traveler’s home country.
The report found that while eight in ten travelers have felt their safety threatened while abroad, less than four in ten travelers researched crime statistics at their destination, neighborhoods to avoid, safety standards of public transport, or security features of their accommodation before they traveled.
If you are jouneying to or living in high-risk locales, the United States State Department advises travelers to be extremely security conscious at all times, particularly in public places. When traveling by road, public transportation, or near government offices, travel safety must be a priority from both a personal and professional perspective.
What is the Political Situation Within the Country You Will Visit?
Go online and evaluate the political situation in the country or countries you plan to visit to determine if insurgent activity, military actions, coups, outbreaks of infectious disease, or social unrest presents a significant threat to your safety. The United States Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management’s website provides current information on countries of concern. Interactive maps on the website are updated daily with security, medical, and natural disaster advisory statements and crucial information regarding travel safely to specific international destinations.
Review your proposed travel dates to avoid, if possible, anniversaries of terrorist events, and high-profile activities with large crowds such as international sporting events, election-related protests, or demonstrations.
Be well informed; read newspapers and watch television news to broaden your understanding of the culture of the region and activities happening at your travel destination. Americans are advised always to respect social and religious traditions in countries they visit to avoid offending local sensibilities.
Determine if the State Department has a consulate or embassy in place to assist American citizens in the country that you are visiting. There will be a travel warning in place if the United States State Department’s ability to offer assistance is constrained because of a drawdown in staff or closure of the consulate or embassy.
What Are Your Health And Wellness Concerns?
Evaluate the prevailing sanitary conditions of the country to which you will travel. Examine medical care options and the danger of infectious disease. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides updated current on medical concerns in the country or region in which you are traveling. Request current information on suggested or required immunizations for the destination country.
Research and preparedness are key to mitigating medical risks abroad. The State Department advises travelers, stating, “Be aware that many foreign made medications are not FDA-approved, and you cannot bring them into the U.S. Also, when traveling abroad, bring only the amount of medication you'll need during the trip in its original container.”
More than 70 percent of senior travelers have experienced medical issues when journeying abroad. Less than 10 percent of these elderly travelers failed to visit their healthcare provider for an assessment of their overall health before departure.
Before your trip, check with your healthcare insurance provider to determine if your policy offers international coverage options. If not, consider purchasing a short-term medical insurance travel policy to cover medical emergencies and possible medical evacuation home.
Evaluate Transportation Options
Research different possible transportation options. Will you travel by air, mass transit, rail or automobile? Prepare an “emergency exit strategy” should events disrupt your established travel plans. Contact potential carriers for possible delays, security concerns, and travel advisories.
Euro-Assistance.com is one of a diverse array of internationally based safety and security advisement companies that can create a personalized travel security analysis for individual or groups. The Travel Risk Intelligence Portal (TRIP) is GCS’ proprietary business traveler intelligence tool for travel risk management.
Euro-Assistance notes, "TRIP expertise offers international travelers real-time travel alerts and flight briefings throughout the life cycle of their journey: destination health and medical information, destination safety and security information, risk mitigation tips, essential contact information, general travel insight, and more. Mobile travelers can currently access 195 country guides and over 250 city guides."