July 13, 2024



Airport Security Screening

As a psychologist, I have consulted with a large number of very experienced travelers from a wide variety of professions including military, law enforcement, business, and politics.  Knowing of my interest in travel, many have shared with me their thoughts and insights regarding security issues for the traveler.  I’ve kept a list of these security ideas and, considering the increasing number of threats and challenges to travelers, I wanted to share these security tips for travel.


International Arrivals
International Arrivals

Keep in mind that no one, traveler or otherwise, can be totally safe and secure.  Some may be tempted to avoid potential threat by not traveling – by instead staying home.  But then bad things can happen at home as well.  And as they say, if you don’t travel then the bad guys win.  Personally, I love to travel. So I for one, will continue to travel.  Guess it’s in my blood.   But I will do my best to travel wisely and to be alert to security issues.  If you also choose to travel then hopefully you will find the list of security tips helpful.  Hopefully it will give you some ideas about how to travel just a bit more safely in these challenging times.


japan airport1

The list below is, of course, far from complete.  Some are fairly obvious.  Some less so. Can there ever be such a thing as a complete list of security tips?  Or a complete list of anything for that matter?  And some may take issue with some of the ideas or concepts, or they may offer alternate or different ideas.  That’s great.    Some will say that these ideas go overboard and are paranoid.  That thought of course is countered by those who will say that these ideas aren’t paranoid enough!   Guess you can’t please everybody.The list is not intended to be the final and absolutely correct list of security tips for travel. Bottom line – if the list provokes thought and awareness of security issues and actions that you might take, actions which might allow you to travel more safely, then it has served a good purpose.

That said, here are a variety of security tips offered for your consideration –

 – How To Minimize Your Chances Of Encountering A Threat  –

These security tips for travel may help you avoid encountering a threat to your safety or of becoming a target for bad behavior. Some will apply to everyone in almost every circumstance.  Others are more specific or limited to certain types of circumstances. Many are obvious and some are not.

1) Be alert and aware.  Keep you eyes open and don’t get overly focused or engrossed in an activity.  See and be aware of your surroundings. The best way to avoid difficulty is to see it coming. Related to this, a person who conducts themselves in an alert and aware manner is seen as a less favorable target by nefarious characters. People who are oblivious or distracted – those gawking at  tourist sights or texting on their smartphone for example – are seen as vulnerable potential targets by those who would do them ill. If you are going to look at your phone or use an on-line map, don’t do it on the street.  Step into a store and at best, position yourself against a wall so no one can get behind you.

2) Know where you are.  Know the name of the restaurant you are in, or the hotel you are staying at.  Know the address.  Use your smartphone and keep the information up to date along with phone numbers as well as directions as to how to get back to you home point – hotel, guest house, etc. Keep emergency numbers on speed dial – local police, embassy, etc. In an emergency you may need to quickly tell someone that you need assistance, where you are and how to get to you. If you in a building, event or transportation – know where the exits are and how to get to them if needed.

3) Tell people your plans. Let others know where you are going, what you will be doing, who you are with and when you expect to return.  Tell your embassy when you are visiting a country or city.  U.S. citizens can do this with the

  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Tell your family how to reach you and what your schedule is. Tell the concierge at your hotel where you will be and when to expect your return. (Of course, do NOT share this information with people you do not trust.)

4) Avoid major transport hubs. Places such as airports, bus terminals, and train stations can be prime targets for criminal and terrorist activities.   When you must use transport hubs – don’t linger.  Plan your arrival and departure to spend as little time in these hubs as possible as such locations are prime targets for bad behaviors from small time crooks – pick pockets, to big time evil doers – terrorists.

4) Avoid large crowds. Stay away from large gatherings and events whenever possible.  Political rallies, protests, and marches are high risk areas.  Terrorists think in terms of big targets.  Make yourself small. Travel and move in small groups.

5) Stay visible to the public. While large crowded events are risky, you should also avoid being isolated or out of the public view.  A solitary target might not be attractive to a terrorist group, but criminal activities thrive when there are no people around to witness their activities.

6) Blend in with your surroundings.  Don’t attract attention to yourself or make yourself a highly visible target.  Wear simple clothing in muted colors.  Dress like locals when you are in foreign lands.  Be quiet, not loud and boisterous.  The only time to get loud is if you are actually attacked – then, make lots of noise.

7) Leave the “Bling” at home.  Don’t wear lots of jewelry or expensive watches.  Don’t flash a wad of cash. Keep a low profile.

8) Use gear with security features.  The security savy traveler should use bags, wallets, etc. which include security features such as those offered by companies like Travelon and PacSafe.  Travel gear which incorporate tamper resistant materials and RFID qualities for protection from electronic data theft offer a useful layer of protection to the traveler.

9) Mobil Phone Security.  Your mobile phone is a great security device.  At home you likely are never without it.  You can call for assistance, ask directions, contact friends, etc.  The same applies when you travel.  Take you phone with you when you travel. International travelers can easily add a local SIM card or carry a travel phone giving access to phone and data service at their destination.  Load up the phone with important numbers and locations – local police, hotel, traveling companion numbers, U.S. Embassies.

Most of these suggestions are obviously common sense.  But that’s the point.  When traveling you really need to “keep your wits about you.”  Be alert and aware.  And trust you gut – if you get a feeling that something isn’t right – check it out, rethink it, be cautious.

Love to hear your ideas and tips about trave safety. Share a comment.


Travel Safe ……………….. And Enjoy The Adventure!


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