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It's a Matter of Common Sense: Keep Safe When Traveling Abroad for Business

by:

Claudine Williams

Originally Posted on Womensnet.net (www.womensnet.net).

If you are nervous about traveling abroad and your business requires it, take the following common sense steps to avoid trouble. 

First, you should stop and assess the situation. Next, ask yourself if you are experiencing paranoia. Lastly, take action. Look for alternatives if you feel confident that something is wrong. You may have to wave down a taxi, run, or step inside a store.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

If you are traveling to an area for the first time, it is extremely important to learn as much as you can about the country before you pack your bags. Intelligence updates and country updates found at the U.S. State Department can give you the background you need in order to make intelligent decisions when confronted. Contact the State Department or the United States Embassy before you go. Get a threat briefing. It will let you know if there are certain areas you should avoid.

If you are a frequent traveler, the area you visit may feel like home. However, that's no excuse to let your guard down.

Never become complacent, even if you travel to an area often, says Karen Jeffery, president of Pacific Island Investments. On a routine trip to Fiji, she discovered that her laptop computer and calculator were missing from her luggage. It turns out that someone searched her bags after they were removed from the boat. "I found out that people sift through the luggage regularly and take what they want," she says. "My advice is: don't let anything out of your sight, even if you are frequent traveler to an area."

Lower Your Risk

Terrorists and thieves are sometimes attracted to Americans because they can earn an attractive ransom.

If you are trying to look like you are of modest means and you have a Platinum card, an American Express card, and your gym membership card, a terrorist would jump to the conclusion of thinking that you are a millionaire.

Stay Humble

There isn't a single scenario that describes how travelers are nabbed. People often run awry with the police and get a lofty American attitude by assuming that they have the same rights in a foreign country as they do in the United States. That's why you should always be polite when dealing with police or even thieves when abroad. Don't be condescending. Carry bribe money to get you through sticky situations.

Of course, if you look and act like the people in your area, you have a better chance of escaping problems with the police and others. If you are traveling with nationals, your chances of having problems are also reduced.

Do As the Natives Do

That's why you should always do as the natives do. Dress similar to the natives in the area. Try to avoid wearing clothes with obvious American insignias. In other words, leave your university alumni shirt at home.

Become invisible by learning how to behave in a new culture. Develop a rapport with foreign nationals. Ask them about any security concerns you may have and mimic their behavior. They will give you an insider's opinion. Learn acceptable greetings and discussion for the area you are visiting. For example, in some cultures, slapping a person on the back is a no-no.

Never pull out large sums of money. Use traveler's checks or local currency instead of using American cash. If you must have a credit card, bring only one. There's no sense in losing all of them at once. Make sure that you get a receipt for your purchases. Finally, remember to ask for your credit card carbon copies and destroy them.

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Cladine Williams is a freelance travel writer. (More about this writer.)

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