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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Safe Trip Abroad:
Extreme Circumstances

Staying Safe


Taken from public domain information in - Department of State Publication 10110, Bureau of Consular Affairs - revised 9/93

Millions of U.S. citizens travel abroad each year and use their U.S. passport. When you travel abroad, the odds are in your favor that you will have a safe and incident free trip. Even if you do come into difficulty abroad, the odds are still in your favor that you will not be a victim of crime or violence.


Terrorist acts occur at random and are unpredictable, making it impossible to protect oneself absolutely. The first and best protection is to avoid travel in unsafe areas where there has been a persistent record of terrorist attacks or kidnapping. The vast majority of foreign states have good records of maintaining public order and protecting residents and visitors within their borders from terrorism.

Most terrorist attacks are the result of long and careful planning.

Just as a car thief will first be attracted to an unlocked car with the key in the ignition, terrorists are looking for defenseless, easily accessible targets who follow predictable patterns. The chances that a tourist, traveling with an unpublished itinerary, would be the victim of terrorism are slight-no more than the random possibility of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for their political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for American targets. Nevertheless, the pointers below may help you avoid becoming a 'target of opportunity.' They should be considered as adjuncts to the tips listed in the previous sections on how to protect yourself against the far greater likelihood of being a victim of ordinary crime.

These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists.

-- Schedule direct flights if possible and avoid stops at high-risk airports or areas. Consider other options for travel, such as trains.

-- Try to minimize the time spend in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas. On arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible.

-- As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress, and behavior which may identify you as an American.

-- Keep an eye out for suspicious abandoned packages or briefcases. Report them to airport security or other authorities and leave the area promptly.

-- Avoid obvious terrorist targets such as places where Americans and Westerners are known to congregate.

Travel to High-Risk Areas:

If you must travel in an area where there has been a history of terrorist attacks or kidnapping, make a habit to:

-- Discuss with your family what they would do in case of an emergency, in addition to making sure your affairs are in order before leaving home.

-- Register with the U.S. embassy or consulate upon your arrival.

-- Remain friendly, but be cautious about discussing personal matters, your itinerary or program.

-- -- Leave no personal business papers in your hotel room.

-- Watch for people following you or loiterers observing your comings and goings.

-- Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, hospitals.

-- Let someone else know what your travel plans are. Keep them informed if you change your plans.

-- Avoid predictable times and routes of travel, and report any suspicious activity to local police, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

-- Select your own taxi cabs at random-don't take a cab that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one posted on his or her license.

-- If possible, travel with others.

-- Be sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don't meet strangers at unknown or remote locations.

-- Refuse unexpected packages.

-- Formulate a plan of action for what you will do if a bomb explodes or there is gunfire nearby.

-- Check for loose wires or suspicious activity around your car.

-- Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition in case you need to resort to high-speed or evasive driving.

-- Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets; bombs can be thrown through open windows.

-- If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the floor or get down as low as possible. Don't move until you are sure the danger has passed. Do not attempt to help rescuers and do not pick up a weapon. If possible, shield yourself behind or under a solid object. If you must move, crawl on your stomach.


While every hostage situation is different and the chance of becoming a hostage is remote, some considerations are important.

The U.S. government's policy not to negotiate with terrorists is firm--to do so would only increase the risk of further hostage-taking. When Americans are abducted overseas, we look to the host government to exercise its responsibility under international law to protect all persons within its territories and to bring about the safe release of hostages. We work closely with these governments from the outset of a hostage-taking incident to ensure that our citizens and other innocent victims are released as quickly and safely as possible.

Normally, the most dangerous phases of a hijacking or hostage situation are the beginning and, if there is a rescue attempt, the end. At the outset, the terrorists typically are tense, high-strung and may behave irrationally. It is extremely important that you remain calm and alert and manage your own behavior.

-- Avoid resistance, sudden or threatening movements. Do not struggle or try to escape unless you are certain of being successful.

-- Make a concerted effort to relax. Breathe deeply and prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for the possibility of a long ordeal.

-- Try to remain inconspicuous, avoid direct eye contact and the appearance of observing captors' actions.

-- Avoid alcoholic beverages. Consume little food and drink.

-- Consciously put yourself in a mode of passive cooperation. Talk normally. Do not complain, avoid belligerency, and comply with all orders and instructions.

-- If questioned, keep your answers short. Don't volunteer information or make unnecessary overtures.

-- Don't try to be a hero, endangering yourself and others.

-- Maintain your sense of personal dignity, and gradually increase your requests for personal comforts. Make these requests in a reasonable low-key manner.

-- If you are involved in a lengthier, drawn-out situation, try to establish a rapport with your captors, avoiding political discussions or other confrontational subjects.

-- Establish a daily program of mental and physical activity. Don't be afraid to ask for anything you need or want--medicines, books, pencils, papers.

-- Eat what they give you, even if it does not look or taste appetizing. A loss of appetite and weight is normal.

-- Think positively; avoid a sense of despair. Rely on your inner resources. Remember that you are a valuable commodity to your captors. It is important to them to keep you alive and well.

Thank you for taking the time to become an informed traveler. We wish you a safe and wonderful journey.

For general travel information, the following pamphlets may be ordered from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402; tel: 202-783-3238. The price of each publication is $1, except where noted.

Your Trip Abroad ($1.25)

Travel Tips for Older Americans

Tips for Americans Residing Abroad

Country specific information can be found in the following publications:

Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa

Tips for Travelers to Central and South America

Tips for Travelers to the People's Republic of China

Tips for Travelers to Mexico

Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa ($1.25)

Tips for Travelers to South Asia

Tips for Travelers to Russia

The following publications may be ordered from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009. The price is 50 cents each.

Foreign Entry Requirements

Passports--Applying for Them the Easy Way

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