Personal Security Tips While Traveling

* Notify your immediate family of your departure and return dates, but don't otherwise publicize your travel or vacation plans. Always leave contact information with your family. Provide them with an itinerary, hotel names, phone numbers, airline flight info, and any other important travel information. It is a good idea to also leave them a copy of your passport.

* Register your trip with the state department online or with your embassy upon arrival.

* Check plane, train, and bus times before you travel.

* Sit near other people or near aisles or doors. Learn the location of emergency alarms and exits.

* Stay awake and alert when using public transportation.

* Consider purchasing special clothing or accessories to hide your passport, money, or credit cards. Keep the majority of your funds in traveler's checks and hidden; carry some in your wallet or handbag. Use a money clip. If you are robbed, you may lose the money in the clip but will retain important credit cards and documents.

* Keep valuables out of sight and luggage close at hand. If carrying a handbag, keep it in front of you, closed, with the fastening toward your body. Keep a wallet in your front pants pocket.

* Let go if your bag is snatched.

* Do some research on the area you are visiting. Talk to your security officer or consular colleagues regarding travel advisories or warnings.

* When traveling, dress casually; dress down where appropriate. Be aware of local customs.

* Don't wear excess jewelry. Reduce wallet and purse contents, particularly cards that denote affiliations, memberships, accounts, etc.

* At airports, proceed through security checks and go to the boarding area as quickly as possible. These areas are usually the most secure in the airport.

* In any crowded situation, be aware of any crowding or jostling, even if it appears innocent. This is often a ploy by pickpockets to distract you.

* Be very careful any time you use a telephone calling card. Fraudulent uses of these cards are on the rise. Look for people observing your card or your fingers as you dial your code. Avoid being heard giving the number to local telephone operators.

* Maintain a low profile, use common sense, know your surroundings, and have a safe trip. Don't bring attention to yourself with your clothing or your actions. Be alert, report anything suspicious, and obey security personnel.

We live in dangerous times and have to remain ever vigilant. You never know when something bad may happen to you or your family. Follow the above tips to minimize your risk and increase the odds of you having an incident free holiday.

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