At Counter Threat Group, we spend a lot of time talking to individuals, groups, organizations and companies about about how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime, violence or terrorism. Traveling, whether domestic or overseas, exposes one to a greater risk of all three. As you travel during this Christmas and the holiday season, be vigilant and aware and heed the following three tips for safe traveling.
1. Avoid public transportation and popular gathering areas during peak times
If you pay attention to when most acts of terrorism occur, as we do at Counter Threat Group, it is most always during rush hour or peak activity times. In recent years, the worst mass-transit attacks have occurred during peak travel times in Madrid, Spain- 2004 Atocha metro attack that killed 191- and in London, England- 2005 Tube attack that killed 54. There have been a number of smaller attacks in Europe and the U.S., and in all of these cases, attacks have occurred during peak travel times. Whether you are using mass transit when traveling internationally or domestically, a terrorist wants to make the biggest lethal impact possible, and it only makes sense that they would carry out their attacks during times when the most people are crowded into confined areas like trains and subways. You can’t eliminate the risk of becoming a target of terrorism, but you can significantly reduce the risk by altering your patterns such as avoiding mass-transit during peak travel times.
The same rule applies to acts of terror at public gathering places. Europe, particularly England, France, Belgium and Germany have experienced recent recurring acts of terrorism, most always during peak activity times, and by all indications, the threat is on the increase. The worst of the recent attacks occurred in Paris on a Friday night in November 2015. 130 people were killed and 413 were injured in a coordinated series of attacks that involved mass shootings and suicide bombers that took place during height of Friday night activity at outdoor cafes, and at the popular Bataclan concert hall. When traveling to popular cities whether in Europe or the U.S., the same rule applies to visiting popular attractions as it does to mass-transit. If at all possible, alter the times when you visit popular eating, shopping or music areas to avoid the peak days and times when most people are visiting these areas. Go on a Wednesday evening rather than a Friday or Saturday night. Weekends are popular times for terrorists. Again, altering the times when visiting popular venues can significantly reduce the risk of you becoming a target of terrorism.
2. Keep your valuables in a pouch around your neck and carry a dummy wallet:
One of the greatest risks that you face when traveling is an act of petty crime. In many European cities, pick pockets are prevalent, skilled and target tourists particularly in crowded, popular places. It is advised that you keep all important items- passport, credit cards and cash- in a pouch attached to a string that hangs around your neck and under your clothing. It is next to impossible for any pick pocket to be able to steal from you if you follow this tip. Never keep your valuables in an exterior pants pocket or an exterior area of a backpack. Your valuables will disappear before you ever know what happened.
Another very important tip along these lines is to carry a dummy wallet. Keep this wallet in a a safe pocket, but not around your neck where your real valuables are. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation where a person or persons have you cornered and are trying to rob you, hand over the “dummy” wallet. This wallet should contain some real cash, U.S. dollars, perhaps $7-$10 or whatever currency of the country you are in, it should also contain some old or expired coupons, cards or anything that looks legitimate without exposing important identity information. The robbers will take a look at it, see the real cash, and most likely run away and leave you alone. You have escaped a potentially dangerous situation without losing your valuables.
3. Avoid looking lost or confused:
Whenever you travel to a new country or city, you are going to get lost at some point. The first inclination is to pull out a map and try to get your bearings. The problem with that is that when you are looking at a map out in public, it announces to everyone around you that you are not from there and are probably lost. This might invite some help from someone who might have alterior motives. The best solution is to go inside a store, restaurant or somewhere out of public view to get your bearings. You will probably find someone inside who works there that can help you and give you directions.
By following the above tips, you can travel smarter and safer and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime or terrorism. For more information on travel safety, contact Counter Threat Group LLC.