Be it the effects of an earthquake or tsunami, political unrest or criminal activity at a planned destination, travelers are concerned about security and being safe both when traveling and upon arrival. What was once a part of travel taken for granted with few precautions necessary has become a matter of primary importance and one shaping travel decisions for many. Should current world affairs keep us from traveling? Experts say no but urge caution.
What if your passport is lost or stolen in a foreign country? What if you are attacked, robbed or otherwise the victim of a crime?
The U.S Department of State’s Smart Traveler program is a step in the right direction. By enrolling in the program, travelers enable the Department of State to get in contact with them in an emergency. Bringing along contact information for the U.S. embassy in countries you will visit is important too.
Knowing the local customs of a country before visiting has always been good advice. Now, knowing more specifics on what to do in case of an emergency is more important than ever. But “what to prepare for?” has become a big question as travel disruptions from weather events to revolutions continue to occur world wide.
Security expert Christopher Falkenberg suggests travelers “take and all hazards approach. Think of the broadest range of problems-flood, fire, earthquake, terrorist attack, etc. Essentially, they will all need the same thing: effective communication, clean water, physical safety, flashlight, medical supplies, N95 mask, etc. Instead of a separate checklist for every possible crisis, think in terms of the common elements of what you’ll need in any emergency and how you can prepare for it. It helps when thinking about the “result” of an emergency versus the actual event itself.”
Security is a matter now given serious attention regardless of the method of travel. By foot, car, plane, ship or rail travelers are concerned that their method of transportation may be a target for terrorists and are apprehensive about what they will find at their destinations.
It has been suggested that travel via cruise ship may offer added protection to travelers. If for no other reason, the closed and secure environment a cruise ship offers if as nothing more than a mode of transportation is worthy of consideration.
As a potential terrorist target, strict maritime security laws are in place to protect passengers. and cruise ships. Back in 2004 the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) introduced a comprehensive ship and port security code. According to the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) “these regulations established international security regulations that require all ships, port facilities and governments to have formal security plans, screening measures, access control, waterside security and communications between ships and ports.”
Cruise lines place a great deal of effort in maintaining a secure environment for travelers both on and off the ships too. Recently ships have been diverted away from trouble spots like Mazatlan, Mexico where criminal activity is a concern and Japan where a damaged infrastructure might harbor unsafe conditions.
Airlines, cruise lines and other modes of transportation are operating at a high level of security that offer travelers some peace of mind in troubled times. Still, a customized security plan , considering the potential dangers in traveling to your destinations, should be at the top of every traveler’s packing list.
Flickr photo by followtheseinstructions