Travel with Peace of Mind: Advice

Safety and security at travel gateways is currently a hot topic. If travelling with peace of mind, is on your mind, check out this sound advice from former CIA agent, Jason Hanson:

1. Do your research before you go.

Hanson recommends taking advantage of the internet, by doing as much research on a destination when planning and before departing on your trip.

However, he urges travellers to focus on local government websites and not to believe everything they read on the big World Wide Web.

2. Digitise important documents and carry them on a secure USB

Thought USBs were out of date. No, says Hanson. While making copies of travel and other important documents, he advises travellers to hold digital copies on a USB device.

3. Grab a higher floor and an extra key at your hotel

Even when travelling solo, Hanson advises travellers not to let it show. According to Hanson, an easy way to trick unsavoury characters into thinking you aren’t an easy, solo target is to request an extra key at the front desk. Also, since most crimes happen on the lower floors, Hanson suggests snagging a room on the third floor or higher.

4. Skip the hotel safe

Hanson strongly advises against using hotel safes. “I never leave my passport, or my wife’s passport, or anything of value in the hotel room. Hotel safes are not of good quality and almost anyone working in the hotel could have the bypass code to unlock the room safe.”

5. Skip the hanging ‘hidden’ wallet

Forget the hanging neck wallets says Hanson. These hanging neck wallets are so recognisable these days that, like purse straps, robbers can pick them out of a crowd, and with a swift snip – wamp! – your secure neck wallet slips.

Instead, Hanson suggests a hidden wallet that can attach to your belt and tuck into the inside of your pant leg; he also recommends finding a wallet that has RFID protection that prevents your credit cards’ information from being stolen magnetically.

6. Snag a doorstopper alarm

Another cool safety tool that Hanson recommends, for both domestic and international travel, is a handy-dandy doorstopper alarm. You simply wedge it in your hotel room door when you go to sleep, and if anyone tries to break into the room, it sounds an alarm.

7. Keep your lips sealed when it comes to travel plans

However exciting your trip may be, Hanson advises to keep mum about the finer details of the trip. He says that whenever he travels, he treats his travel plans like top secret information, only divulging where he’s been when he’s back from a trip. Why? Because you never know who is listening – or reading.

8. Be one step ahead of scammers

Be prepared. Know the typical travel scams played in the area and avoid any situations where you could be played like a fool. Sometimes the consequence can be more severe than just getting your wallet stolen. It again comes down to doing your research.

9. Act as much like a local as you can

Get down like a local. According to Hanson acting like the ‘virgin’ tourist is what places the biggest target on your back while travelling and he said sticking out like a sore thumb. Hanson believes it is important to try and look and act like as much of a local as possible. Thus, respect the customs and culture wherever you are; don’t expect people to speak English, don’t become rowdy, dress appropriately, be polite and walk with confidence. He also suggests studying your routes and transportation options before you leave the hotel; but if you do need to peep at the map, no worries.

10. Grab taxis from reputable sources

Hanson urges travellers to use their judgement and if they want to be extra cautious to only using taxis and car services provided by the hotels. With the rise of peer-to-peer services like AirBnb, Uber and Lyft sweeping through the travel landscape, the once easily recognisable lines of safety have become a bit blurred.

Source: The New Zealand Herald