I find it strange that concerns about safety is one of the main reasons people don’t like to travel. Demolishing those fears is one of the things we like to do around here. Today we speak with travel security expert Craig Bidois, who covers travel safety tips for before leaving home, during transit times and while you’re in foreign lands.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 148 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Craig’s pervading theme is that you can use common sense and a sense of humour to avoid, or work your way out of, tricky situations, but we also cover before you go, airports and transit, and on-the-ground practicalities.

Before you go

Safety advice before you travel abroad
Planning is vital - Safety advice before you travel abroad
Research the place you’re going to, and also check Government advisories. You should check your home country’s information and consider the information given by the Australian and Canadian advisories, which are more calmly informative than those of the USA and UK.

Carry copies of vital documents — passport, visas and medical information. As well as keeping photocopies handy, leave copies at home with people who can access them. Also keep scanned copies in your email account and on a USB drive.

Airports and transit

After a long flight you’re often tired and disoriented, so it’s best to have a carefully researched plan to get you through this time. You probably didn’t meet your best friend at an airport … be wary of those people who tout and offer to help there. Getting into an unlicensed vehicle might be a very bad mistake.

Land borders and seaports are often have security that’s just as tight as at the airport. Don’t take the risk of carrying contraband materials over these borders.

Always lock your bags before handing them over to check-in staff, and consider shrink-wrapping them if you can’t lock them well. There’s always the possibility that people will take things from your bag, or add things into it — making you an involuntary mule. This is another advantage of packing light and travelling without check-in luggage.

On the ground

Safety advice before you travel abroad - Gare du Nord, Paris
Gare du Nord, Paris - Safety advice before you travel abroad
As well as your pre-trip research, use your time on the plane to get more information about local culture. Talk to your airline staff, locals you might sit next to, and — once you arrive — accommodation staff. The best strategy is to try to adapt to local culture as best you can and find out the do’s and don’ts quickly. The more people you speak to, the faster this acclimatisation can take place.

Community news

We were recently named the second favourite travel blog by travel booking giant Lastminute.com. Nice. That sits well alongside our twelfth-place ranking in the Travelblogsites.com listings of independent travel sites. Thanks for all your support, guys; you keep us motivated and it’s thanks to you that we keep getting these great results.

Over the last few months we’ve been working with a group of helpers and interns who are doing amazing things to keep the site lively and growing while we’re on the road. This week we want to introduce Sealdi Calo who wrote this travel ebook review along with helping us with SEO; and Sam Wood, who blogs at ardenttraveller.com and is helping us with research and SEO work too. Cheers! We’ll be introducing more people over the coming weeks.

Your thoughts on "Travel safety and security podcast"

  • The best government travel advisories have a warning scale and detailed information on the risks. This allows every traveller to take into account their own levels of experience or willingness to take risks. For example, having travelled extensively I generally don't worry too much about the warnings unless they are at the highest level on the scale or in some way appear directly connected to my travel (eg there is fighting within 20 miles of xxx and that is where I was headed). However others may want to steer clear of places with more modest warning levels. Note that most travel insurance policies have an exclusion for places with a "do not travel" type of government travel alert, if that alert was in place before you went there. Read the fine print to check what the restrictions are on your policy. On locking or wrapping checked baggage, there are restrictions in some places. For example flights from or within USA can only be locked with TSA approved locks. Even without locks you can mitigate the risks by: a) never checking anything of value (ie carry your laptop onto the plane) b) have checked baggage with few external pockets (less places for drugs or contraband to be slipped into) and check these at the baggage claim c) travel as I do with carry on luggage only

    on March 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm Reply
  • Another great, useful episode guys. And thanks for the five seconds of ITP fame! Please chuck any more work my way that I can help with now that I'm back home for Easter.

    on April 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm Reply
  • I agree with lots of these points, I have travelled a lot myself and have to say there is no substitute for experience. Of course, try not to do anything too stupid and always handy to have a look over the safety section of a city in a guidebook before arriving in the middle of the night in an unknown dodgy area of a city... Although I think a lot of the time travel advice from governments can be a bit over the top, of course they have to cover themselves and while advice should be taken into consideration I don't think it should be followed to the letter - seriously if you check out some government websites then a lot of the time you wouldn't be able to leave your home town...

    on July 14, 2010 at 10:54 am Reply

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