Have you thought about how you will react when your 19-year-old daughter informs you that she wants to travel through Europe, Asia or Latin American on her upcoming summer break from college? You can always say no and offer to send her to Disneyland; after all, it is the happiest place on earth. Like most dads, you can only hope that she takes you up on your offer, but you know that it is not likely. You better have a plan B. What is your plan B? If you do not have one, let me help you out.
There are companies and services that compile travel itineraries and provide hour-by-hour and day-by-day information regarding a traveler’s planned trip. These services can ‘push’ alerts to the traveler (and others) regarding health, travel and security information specifically about the location where the traveler currently is or planning to go. This information can be presented in a variety of ways to the user (and others) via their smartphone and email address. It is called ‘travel tracking’. There are even some good smartphone applications that can provide similar information, although they are usually not as robust as an actual travel tracking service. Travel tracker services compile all of the traveler’s flight information, hotel, and car reservations, etc. and track the traveler.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but this sort of system can only tell you where the traveler is supposed to be and not necessarily where they are. What happens if your daughter decides to take an unexpected day trip from London to Paris? You would not know.
If you want to know exactly where a traveler is at any given time, you will need to provide them with a GPS-based tracking device. Some companies will rent or lease you a device that can be carried discretely. Some of these devices also have an emergency or panic button that will send out a distress signal when activated.
There are two issues concerning these devices that you should be aware of. First, this is another piece of equipment that must be carried, and some travelers find this to be an inconvenience. The device also needs to be re-charged daily, so the traveler has to take the charging cord or charging device with them. Secondly, who is monitoring this device throughout the trip? Who is going to respond when the traveler activates the distress signal?
Fortunately, there are alternatives such at MyTrac ®. MyTrac is a proprietary GPS tracking system utilized by FocusPoint International, a Global Security and Travel Risk company, that can be remotely loaded to a user’s smartphone, eliminating the need to carry a second device. When MyTrac is installed on a smartphone, the user will be tracked automatically. It has an emergency icon that when activated, sends an alert to any number of designated persons via text or email. MyTrac users are tracked 24/7 by FocusPoint International’s Crisis Response Center. Should a distress signal be activated, crisis center personnel respond immediately to determine the nature of the emergency and render assistance.
Finally, you should consider a travel assistance membership program. FocusPoint International offers short-term and annual travel memberships that provide a response to nine (9) different travel risks. These include blackmail/extortion, criminal violence, disappearance, hijack, kidnap, natural disaster, political threat, terrorism and wrongful detention. This program is called CAP (Crisis Assistance Plus) and can be easily purchased online. CAP provides an affordable and trip specific membership plan for casual and professional travelers.
Global incidents have made traveling to even so-called safe locations an uncertain prospect. You are probably not going to be able to talk your daughter out of her trip, but you can mitigate the risks. Consider your options now.