13 Ways to Keep Your Family Safe During Foreign Travel

When it comes to traveling abroad, creating lasting memories with your family is undoubtedly the goal. Yet, ensuring the safety of your loved ones is paramount for a worry-free experience. Proper preparation is the key to striking the right balance between enjoyment and peace of mind. Here are 13 crucial ways to keep your family safe during foreign travel.

Prior Preparation:

1. Make Passport Copies

Before you set foot in another country, take precautions by making copies of each family member’s passport. Email a copy to yourself, carry one while traveling, and leave an extra with a trusted individual back in the US. While a copy of your passport won’t be valid to travel with, it will expedite the process of replacing a lost passport, and can still be helpful in demonstrating your identity if necessary.

2. Embrace Location Sharing

Leverage technology to enhance safety. Set up location sharing with everyone in your party between your phones (use Find My for iPhones, or any other good location sharing app). This will not only give you peace of mind that you can find each other in busy areas, but will be extremely valuable if anyone goes missing for a period of time. 

If losing a member of your party or kidnapping is of particular concern (high net worth individuals and families for example) consider investing in a tracking device that can be kept on your person. 

3. Establish Group Communication Channels

Create a Signal or WhatsApp group for seamless communication between your family or travel group. While most phone plans won’t work internationally, both Signal and WhatsApp operate through WiFi and keep your messages encrypted This will ensure everyone stays connected during the journey.

4. Prioritize Medical Preparedness

If you are traveling abroad it’s always a good idea to keep your tetanus shots up to date. If possible, it’s also a good idea to obtain prescriptions for antibiotics (like 500 mg Levaquin or 400 mg Florxin), essential for combating infections during travel.

Before Leaving:

5. Share Itinerary and Documentation

Leave your travel itinerary with a trusted individual in the US (who should also have a copy of your passports). This ensures someone back home is aware of your plans.

6. Pack Medical Essentials

Prioritize health essentials in your packing. Be sure to pack all current medications. As diarrhea is the most common sickness encountered while traveling, consider bringing medication such as Imodium to treat this, as well as an electrolyte replacement powder you can add to water (such as Pedialyte). You also might consider bringing antibiotics, or a prescription for them, for unforeseen health issues (for example you’re at an increased risk of obtaining a UTI while traveling). 

7. Enroll in STEP

Use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to register your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This is a free service provided by the US, and ensures you receive timely updates about safety concerns or emergency situations for the areas you are in during your travels. Enroll in STEP here

During Travel:

8. Send an Advance

If you are unfamiliar with the area you are traveling to and have any concerns, consider sending one member of your group to travel 1-2 days ahead of the majority of your group. This individual can check out transportation options, hotels, and can locate safe areas and emergency exits from locations you’ll be staying. Most importantly, they can get a “feel” for the environment you’ll be in and make sure nothing feels odd or out of place. 

9. Adopt a Low-Key Appearance

Minimize risks by adopting a low-key travel appearance. Save jewelry, watches, and expensive clothing for scheduled events. Consider swapping out wedding rings for silicone rings to reduce the chance of theft. Wear standard, low profile clothing for day-to-day activities reducing the likelihood of attracting unwanted attention. 

10. Secure Reliable Transportation

Plan transportation in advance. Avoid traveling alone. When using public transportation make sure to keep your children within arms reach, and be alert (don’t plug in earbuds). When using a private transportation service (like a taxi) only use an official service and steer clear of third party or one-off services. Consider having the hotel or airport book the transportation for you as they will know which companies are trustworthy. Never share a taxi or private transportation with a stranger. Make sure that your driver takes you directly from point A to B, don’t let them take you out of your way (sightseeing, great tourist attractions, etc.) If your group is large enough to require multiple vehicles make sure that the vehicles stay together, and ride in the same vehicle as your children. 

11. Prioritize Communication

If your group will be staying in separate rooms or traveling in separate vehicles, consider equipping everyone with small sport radios to facilitate communication. While radios will not work over long distances, it will make communication possible between groups where cell service and WiFi is unavailable or unreliable. This is especially important in the event of an emergency. If you want to be further prepared, consider having a satellite phone for emergency situations. 

12. Be aware of Your Surroundings

While traveling you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds, but it’s important to stay alert for your surroundings. Make sure that you aren’t glued to your phone or too engaged in taking pictures at all times. Periodically look around and be aware of the people in the area. Being alert and looking confident will do a lot to deter potential criminals, and you’ll be able to steer clear of potential issues by noticing anything that looks or feels wrong.

13. Beware of Hotel Wi-Fi

Exercise caution with hotel Wi-Fi to prevent cybersecurity threats. Criminals may set up fake networks and then try to gain access to your personal or financial data when you connect. Most hotel WiFi directs you to connect through a web page that’s part of their official website, or they require you to log in with your room number. A free WiFi account that requires no login credentials or check-ins would be suspicious. Ask the hotel if you have any questions.

Take the Next Step for Enhanced Safety:

Properly implementing these 13 key items ensures that your family can enjoy a foreign adventure while prioritizing safety throughout the journey.  

If you’re passionate about taking the next step in securing your family’s safety, consider enrolling in our PreFense online course. This practical situational awareness course teaches you how to be aware of and react to potential threats, make yourself a hard target, and avoid 99% of potential confrontations. Gain valuable skills that go beyond the basics, ensuring you and your family can navigate the world confidently and securely. Learn more and enroll here. Safe travels!

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