5 Pre-travel Steps to be a Safer Traveler
Why worry about travel safety? Different travelers have different risk tolerance. I have friends who'll travel anywhere and just trust good karma to keep them safe. But if you're like me, you probably want to be a little more prepared than that!
Travel safety, to me, is about problem avoidance. When I'm in another country, I don't necessarily know how everything works. I don't necessarily understand the law, or social factors the way I do at home. The point of travel security is to avoid problems before they happen.
The good news is that you can take five important steps to make your travels more secure before you even get to the airport.
Choose your Hotel Floor
When you book a hotel room, it's tempting to ask to be high up in the clouds so you can look down on the city you're visiting. But the safest rooms, experts say, are between the 2nd floor and the 6th floor. The reason?
Being on the second floor (what Europeans call the first floor) means you're one floor up from the lobby. If there's a disturbance, or a terrorist activity, the lobby is probably where it will start.
The reason you shouldn't go any higher than the 6th floor is fire ladders only reach about 6 floors up. Any higher than that, and in a fire situation, you'll be on your own.
Here's something else that will help you in a fire situation: a smoke hood.
Whether in a downed plane or a burning building, smoke inhalation is the real killer. A compact smoke hood can help you survive long enough to get out.
In a smoky environment, it can also be hard to see where you are. A powerful flashlight can help you get to an exit.
As a bonus, you could also use your light to disorient an attacker.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Fenix brand, as they deliver massive lumens in a small package - I carry an older model, but I have my eye on the new PD36R. At full output it packs a blinding 1600 lumens - but it has low output modes that allow for use around the house.
Once you get into your room, you're secure. Or are you? How many people in the hotel have access to your room key? And how sturdy is that door?
A handy little security device is a door jamb.
This little guy gets stuck under the door. If someone tries to push the door open while you're inside, it will do two things.
First, like any door stop, it will provide a level of kinetic resistance.
Second, it will let out an unholy amount of noise. Enough to wake you up along with other guests. The knowledge that lots of people are awake and curious will help to deter many would-be intruders.
Reduce the Flash Factor
So far we've seen four things you can bring on your trip. The fifth security tip is about what you don't bring.
A simple way to stay more secure is not to be a target.
Do you wear a lot of jewelry? Consider skipping it, or tucking visible jewelry inside your clothes.
You have a brand new iPhone? Consider not flashing it around in the cab or in the bar.
Did you take out a lot of local cash? Consider not pulling out a big roll of bills. Just pull what you need out of your pocket.
A Little Security Goes a Long Way
These seem like small steps to be a more secure traveler.
But security is like the old joke about the two hikers and the bear. Two hikers see a big, hungry looking grizzly bear. One of them pulls on his running shoes.
His friend asks him, "You crazy? You can't outrun a bear!"
"I don't have to," says the first hiker. "I have to outrun you."
Security works the same way. Many people don't take any precautions. Take a few commonsense steps to stay secure, and you can leave that bear way behind.