This week two American tourists were abducted by Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula on their way to the resort of Dahab. The Bedouin wanted the police to release one of their tribesmen jailed for drug possession and offered the tourists in exchange. The Bedouin eventually released the Americans unharmed after negotiations with police on May 31st. The story reminded me of a conversation we had with Jarrod Evans of Rare Earth Adventures, an adventure travel and guide training company, about travel safety back in February.
Jarrod said one of the key things that can make you a target is complacency. Situational awareness, being aware of your surroundings at all times, it the first key to safety. But situational awareness doesn’t mean you have to spend your vacation paranoid; paranoia actually gets in the way.
He used the example of the young woman alone in a parking garage late at night. She enters the garage and sees her car, puts her keys in her fist and walks quickly to it. She opens the door, hops in and locks it. The whole time she is focused on her car, specifically the door, and doesn’t see anything else, making her very vulnerable.
He said it’s not about noticing one guy staring at you, its noticing him watching you and watching him also making eye contact with someone else. You have to pay attention to the body language and visual cues to decide if they’re working as a team. Do you need to plan an escape, through the back door of a shop or in a taxi?
Shady locals might not even be the problem; you can run into issues with authorities too.
Particularly in this kind of situation, you also need to stay calm. Remember most of the time a police officer or customs official has a territorial view of the world. The officers think of their booth at the airport, or the street they patrol as their own personal fiefdom. The easiest way not to end up on “Locked Up Abroad” is to cooperate and show respect, no matter how frustrating it may get. You also might think of asking yourself how your country is perceived in the country you’re visiting. Canadians, you’ve got it easy.
If you’re somewhere in a big city or off the beaten path at home or abroad Jarrod