Safety tips as you prepare to travel abroad- tips gleaned from family and friends as they prepared to travel.
Know the local laws
Did you get the proper vaccines? Do you have bottled water? Did you bring the appropriate clothing for the temperature and activities? Other than what you pack for your trip there are a few things you should do before you step foot on an aeroplane to another country.
The very first thing you should look into when you begin planning a trip to another county is what laws differ from our own. For instance, in Singapore, it is actually illegal to chew gum! Due to the immense expense of cleaning gum up on public transport, all gum substances were banned in 1992 according to Far and Wide.
Its laws like these that you need to be aware of before travelling or you can be fined, or arrested in a foreign country. You can search for the laws of the country online before you leave to determine if you need to leave any offensive belongings behind.
Police in other countries
As with the laws, police are different in other countries and The Council on Foreign Relations tells us everything we need to know about police corruption worldwide. You may find some similarities with the US police forces, but most differ a great deal. Sweden only has a single police force that is overseen by the government, whereas the US has as many as it has counties.
Even with standardized training, competent oversight, and strict disciplinary procedures, police can still be corrupt in any country. Defend yourself with knowledge of the uniforms and your rights as a visitor in the country.
In some countries where the most corruption of the police stay; the force actually bribes to allow illicit activities to take place. Some police will often confiscate items and never log them into the police headquarters, essentially getting items for free.
Contacting the US Embassy
People are greedy by nature and scams are one way that foreign residents can take advantage of visitors. The old adage that states if it seems too good to be true, well most likely it is. There are many scams that you should be aware of before you travel so they can easily be spotted.
The wallet drop scam
If a local comes up to you and tries to hand you a wallet with money in it while claiming you dropped it, simply say no, don't touch it, and find the nearest police officer you can. The scam is to get you to touch the wallet as another individual comes up and claims you stole his wallet. If you managed to not touch it the scam will continue until they demand to see your wallet and money. They will then take your funds and 4run with them. Keep your funds and documents secure to avoid this scam.
Beware of overly helpful locals. This scam entails either a student of English or an attractive person offering to show a tourist around town. Often it ends in an invitation to a restaurant or bar nearby. The tourist is usually taken to a dimly lit room with a small menu. Drinks can then be spiked and the tourist and local will rack up a hefty bill- sometimes when the tourist is under the impression the host is paying. As the bill arrives the host excuses themselves and leaves. At this point, the tourist is met with imposing people demanding the bill be paid or they will be assaulted. In this case, simply refuse the help of individuals or groups o people who offer to show you around. Stick with your group and itinerary.
Bag watching scam
Most people have been warned about this scam, even if they are traveling within the US. Someone sitting near you or walking up to you asking you to watch their bag "for a few moments" while they go do something. Usually, the stranger will return with a police officer (or a faux officer) and claim they saw you had something illegal in the bag, like drugs. Then the tourist will be extorted to avoid trouble with the law. This one is simple as well, if you do not know the person, do not watch, or touch their belongings.
There are many more scams to watch out for on the State Travel page. In order to avoid being scammed, simply use your head, stay calm, and do not touch anything that is not yours. Stay with your group and follow the itinerary for the day.
What to do when you find yourself in legal trouble out of the USA
First thing is to provide an id- like your passport- to the officer and explain the situation calmly. If you do not speak the language, attempt to find someone that can translate and learn what you did to attract their attention. However, if you are detained or arrested there is only one thing to do.
You will need to speak with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and can request to speak with someone there through the prison authorities. The US Department of State can assist you with a list of local attorneys, help contacting friends or family, visitation of the detained to provide reading materials and supplements if appropriate, ensure they receive medical care, and more.
The embassy cannot release you from jail simply because you are a citizen. They also can not state in court the guilt or innocence of anyone, provide legal advice or represent a citizen in court, or pay legal fees.
Tips for travelling abroad
Tips for travelling abroad
- Never send money overseas to someone you haven't met face to face.
- Never give out your personal details over the phone or online.
- When in a crisis abroad demand your right to contact your US embassy or consulate or tell the US citizen in trouble to contact them.
- Contact Overseas services if there is a US citizen claiming the embassy or consulate will not assist them. You can reach them at 888-407-4747.
- You can file a complaint with the FBI or Federal Trade Commission if you are a victim of a scam.
Dealing with corrupt police and unfair judicial systems may make your trip end badly. However, if you can arm yourself with the facts, you can avoid some of the dangers of travelling. Remember to do your research on the laws and customs of your destination, follow your itinerary, keep a list of the US embassies and consulates near where you are staying, and if it sounds like an extraordinary deal, it's probably a scam. Safe travels!