As the summer season rapidly approaches, I think about all the people planning trips overseas. Families taking a special trip to a foreign country, students planning to study abroad and business travelers who may be adding a few days to a business trip to enjoy a ‘mini-vacation‘. With the current uncertainty in the world, each of these scenarios poses some risk to the traveler whether it is terrorism, political unrest, crime or a natural disaster. As a security professional, I have been conditioned to assess risk, but I wonder whether travelers have taken risk into account when they plan and book their trips?
Terrorism has unfortunately become a major concern, especially in countries that were once considered safe. You only need to look at Paris and London to see the very visible increase in police and other security forces patrolling major tourist areas. Other European cities continue to be on high alert as well. However, as we know, terrorism can strike almost anytime, anywhere.
Political unrest is an issue that travelers sometimes ignore, that is until they get caught up in a violent demonstration or find their travel plans curtailed due to strikes and other protest actions directed towards governments.
Crime continues to be one of the greatest risks posed to both business and leisure travelers. Criminals regularly target visitors and identify them at airports, train stations, and hotels.
Natural disasters are also risks that are rarely thought about. We only need to look at the Italy earthquakes last year that occurred in a major tourist area, just a few hours from Rome.
These risks and others should be considered when traveling. Pre-trip planning is key. If your company has a Travel Risk Management program, take advantage of pre-trip information and alerts while traveling. Ensure you have the number to contact for help in a crisis. For leisure travelers, speak with your travel company or agent. They often have programs to inform travelers before a trip and may offer an assistance service at an additional cost. You can also purchase assistance services online through FocusPoint International.
Wherever you go this summer, get as much security and safety information about where you are going before your trip and practice good ‘situational awareness’ while you are there so that you will not become a victim of crime. Make sure that if something does happen, you know whom to contact for assistance. Have a good summer and safe travels.