How To Be The Ultimate Security-Aware Road Warrior

By Francisco Mateo

So you’re a venerable road warrior, but have you mastered the art of staying safe and secure during your international travel? If you want to practice security awareness like the pro’s do, always keep in mind that “the best security protocols are based on common sense and real world experience.” Below are few additional tips to get you ready to protect yourself like the pro’s do:

  • Consult the travel security guidance for your destination from your country’s Foreign Service. Generally it is also a good idea to seek advice regarding extreme climate conditions from reputable weather services.
  • Be aware of the financial and labor issues of your chosen airline as this would impact aircraft maintenance.
  • Scan and make two sets of photocopies of all your identity documents and be mindful of their expiration dates: passport, ID card, driver’s license, vaccination certificates, credit cards, Customs papers for imported material (portable PC, camera, satellite phone, etc.) leave one copy at home and take the other with you.
  • Use luggage that is solid and has a reliable combination lock; airport security approved locks are a good investment.
  • You’re destination country has a reputation for luggage theft shrink wrapping it is a good deterrence.
  • If the risk of loosing your bag is high consider buying Travel Insurance; using a secure identity tag on your bags and don’t pack your bag too tightly.
  • Record the content of your luggage with picture or video to serve as documentation in case it’s lost or stolen.
  • If you need to take confidential/valuable documents or objects (diskettes, money, etc.) on your trip, store them in your carry-on luggage.
  • Some countries reserve the right to scan the contents of your laptop and other portable devices; so if you want your information to remain confidential either encrypt it or take a Clean Laptop with you.
  • Keep your id papers, credit cards, money and tickets on you at all times.
  • It’s good practice to keep a set of extra clothing and footwear in your carry-on luggage.
  • Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport
  • Never trust an unknown person with your luggage.  A stranger can either steal or manipulate your bag.
  • At the hotel, ask for a room between the second and fifth floor, not overlooking the street (for ease of emergency exit and for protection against bombs)
  • Lock the door fully; use the door-chain or other door safety device.
  • Establish the identity of visitors before opening the door
  • Deposit valuables and documents in the room safe
  • Read the safety instructions and check out the evacuation routes
  • Be CAUTIOUS and observant as to who handles and serves you beverages. Be aware that drinks can be laced with substances such as GHB, a drug that is odorless, colorless and tasteless.   It renders the victim euphoric and susceptible to suggestion.
  • Overall, maintain a low profile. Try to avoid looking like a tourist (e.g. consulting a map in public);
  • Always keep your relatives or emergency contacts aware of your travel itinerary and any changes;
  • Keep your contact list up-to-date;
  • Always keep your mobile phone charged and switched on (make sure you bring a charger and possibly an extra battery)

Remember that these tips amount to a simple philosophy called: maintaining “Situational Awareness”. Practiced often enough and they become habit, which is the state of mind all road warriors should seek to sustain.