7 Ways to Avoid Terrorism and Stay Safe While Travelling
Everyone knows that terrorists continue to call for attacks against western interests civilians, police, and governments in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany. But how serious is the threat for the average traveller?
Attacks in Paris in November 2015 have highlighted the capacity of terrorists to conduct random attacks against targets in Western countries with little or no warning. Recent events in France, United States, Denmark, Canada, Tunisia and Australia illustrate the risks posed by terrorists motivated by the current situation in Syria and Iraq and who may be locals or citizens of other countries, including holders of fake Western passports.
No doubt, there is a continuing and long-standing threat of terrorist attacks across the world, but they remain relatively rare and localized. Since the 2001 attacks in the US, terrorists have launched major attacks in Bali, Jakarta, Madrid, London, New Delhi, Kampala, Nairobi, Abuja, Volgograd, Moscow, Egypt, the US, and now Paris that killed and injured a number of foreigners. New militant groups have emerged in parts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East that have caused a major deterioration in the security environment across some areas of these regions.
Terrorist attacks can result in kidnappings for ransom, shootings of unarmed civilians, or security forces (London, Belgium, Ottawa, Dhaka and Paris), use of vehicles against civilians in crowded places, bombings (Boston in 2013 and Bangkok in 2015), suicide operations, and attacks on airplanes, trains and other transportation.
Common targets for terrorist attacks include local offices and buildings of national or local governments, public transport, military and security forces’ bases; western interests such as embassies, airlines, foreign oil and gas installations, multinational companies (including employee residential compounds) and international schools; places of mass gathering such as public buildings, shopping malls, hotels, markets, public transport terminals, airports, tourist sites and public areas; places where western tourists gather such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment sites; and places of worship including mosques, churches, temples and synagogues of all faiths, as well as religious ceremonies and processions.
Given all that, should you barricade your door and never travel anywhere again?
Of course not! But in order to stay safe, there are a few things you should keep in mind before and while you travel.
1. Be Aware of Significant Dates
Significant dates such as anniversaries, religious festivals and political events (such as elections) at your destination may be considered symbolic by terrorists and a reason for an attack.
2. Do Some Reading
Make sure you research your proposed destination before you book. Check the country travel advice provided by your Ministries/Departments of Foreign Affairs or other web sites like Sitata. Sitata can provide you with a quick summary for all your destinations and keep you informed with real-time info on health and safety events while you’re away.
3. Avoid Trouble Spots
Ensure your itinerary does not include any areas where there are recommendations against travel. This could include border areas or other locations within an otherwise low-risk country. If your destination has been designated as a problem area, only go if your trip is absolutely essential (e.g., a funeral for a family member). If the travel advice level has changed after you have booked, but before you have departed, you may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance policy.
4. Monitor the News
If you are in a dicey or risky area, make sure you monitor the news in the country and region to identify any issues that might affect your safety, including knowing about symbolic days or what political events to avoid.
5. Keep A Low Profile
Consider maintaining a low profile by avoiding extravagant clothing and expensive jewellery or watches. Dress as the locals dress and try to blend in as best you can. This way you won’t be an easy target for theft or express kidnappings.
6. Stay Aware When In Public
Be vigilant in public areas and places that attract foreigners and Westerners, such as embassies, hotels, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Identify emergency exits and have an action plan in the event of a security threat.
7. Have An Emergency Plan
Make sure you know what to do if something terrible is happening. Do you know where your embassy is located? You should always be aware of where your embassy or consulate is and how you might get there if you need emergency assistance. Keep telephone and emergency contact information with you at all times. If you’re travelling with others, make sure your group has a pre-arranged meeting spot in case communication lines fail.
As you can see, a few simple measures can keep you safe while you travel. Do you have any more tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!