Thursday, August 03, 2006

Travel Tips

Security Precautions Worth Remembering

“Effective security precautions require a conscious awareness of one’s environment, as well as the need to exercise prudence, judgment, and common sense,” stresses Michael McCann, former Chief of Security for the United Nations. “This is especially true where the traveler must acclimate to different cultures, customs, and laws. Personal security cannot be delegated to others; it is a responsibility of each one of us.

“People traveling abroad on business should be aware that they may be targeted by terrorists, criminals, intelligence agencies, or even just a business competitor if they’re in possession or knowledgeable about proprietary information.”

According to McCann, the top 10 mistakes traveling business executives make are:

Broadcasting the “bling-bling.” Americans appear committed to showing off their affluence with flashy jewelry and actions. When traveling, it is best to maintain a low key, nonattention -getting demeanor so that you blend into the crowd. Leave the expensive gold watch at home along with the designer luggage.

Being distracted by technology. Chatting on a cell phone while traveling through unfamiliar international terrain means that person is not focused on the here and now. An individual cannot be alert to his or her surroundings and assess potential danger when answering text messages, working on a notebook computer, or talking on the phone.

Wallet overload. Many executives fail to clean out their wallet before journeying overseas. When traveling, take only a few credit cards and leave all nonessentials at home, including gym membership identification and personal photos. Carry a minimum of cash and use Credit Cards and traveler’s checks along with a money belt that can be worn under your clothes.

Enraptured by the lure of the penthouse suite. Corporate executives often like the expensive suites on the top floors. However, hotels in other countries do not meet the same safety standards as in the U.S. and the highest floor can be the most dangerous place to be.

Broadcasting country of origin. Leave the Yankee cap at home, and do not wear overtly American brand labels on your clothing. Corporate logos are to be avoided and do not put your name and address on the exposed portion of your luggage tag. Place a copy of this information inside your luggage and be sure it includes your office address and phone number rather than your home information. Instead of renting a big American car, use a vehicle that is local to the country you are visiting.

Indulging in overpacking. Travel with carry-on luggage only. Waiting around in a foreign airport for lug gage signals you as a mark and, if it does not arrive, you are the last person standing at the airport. Carry a laptop bag that does not look like a traditional computer bag.

Failing to remain continually vigilant. Before traveling, find out about the local surroundings, customs, and conditions. Learn what crime problems exist–e.g., pickpocketing or terrorism–where you are visiting. Know the car model and name of your chauffeur before you get into the vehicle. Provide a different name than your own–such as your mother’s or wife’s maiden name –to put up on the sign at the airport exit so that you cannot be followed or tracked. Travel in pairs, and only take direct flights.

Failure to duplicate. Carry an extra photocopy of your passport in your luggage. Leave a copy of your official ID information in your home and office, including driver’s license and credit cards.

Not being medically prepared. Healthy traveling necessitates carrying an ample supply of prescription medicines along with the original container should a refill be necessary. Learn what medical coverage you have in the country you are visiting and whether it applies to emergency care.

Failure to communicate. Before departing, set up the time you will call your home and office each day. Update your emergency contact list and leave a copy of your schedule at home and the office.

“Be sure to carry a business card from the hotel with you at all times.” McCann concludes. “Many executives travel so much and suffer fatigue; they simply forget where they checked into. If you are traveling in a country and do not know the language, you can show the card to an authorized cab driver or to the police. Keep contact information for vital organizations handy, including the American Consulate and the local police and fire department.”