You travel so much that it’s easy to take security precautions for granted. Here is a checklist of must-dos that may just save you grief, if not your life.
1. Some governments (the US and Singapore among them) encourage their citizens to register their overseas travel so in case of emergencies such as natural disasters, viral outbreaks or civil unrest, they can be contacted immediately and offered assistance. This can be done easily online.
2. According to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, a whopping 25 percent of travellers leave home without any insurance. It is wise to invest in one even for a short trip.
The plan should at least cover emergency medical assistance, medical evacuation, compensation for injury or death, hijacking, cancellation fees and alternative transport expenses.
3. Get vaccinated against an illness prevalent in your country of destination. Some countries, such as Congo and Ghana, require travellers to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate before entry into the country.
4. Leave a copy of your itinerary, cell phone number and hotel number with family members so they have a way to contact you in case of an emergency.
5. Tag baggage with your name, contact telephone number and hotel address. This will make it easier for the airline to reunite you with your misplaced bags.
6. Pay attention to the safety briefing at the start of the flight. Note how you should access the oxygen mask and life jacket as well as where the emergency exits are as these differ slightly from plane to plane.
7. Beware when using the internet while on the road. TrustWave Spider Labs, an application security-testing organisation, discovered that 38 percent of all known security breeches in 2009 happened on hotel networks. Always turn on your firewall and keep your computer’s operating system up to date. Do not click on suspicious links and avoid online activities that require accessing personal information. Also, do not access personal accounts at public workstations that could be infected with malware.
8. Be wary when inserting your credit card into an ATM machine. There have been reported cases where unscrupulous individuals had fitted ATM machines with a barely noticeable card reader that can extract credit card numbers and their PINs. Use ATMs located inside the bank where there are least chances of tampering. Furthermore, never let your credit card out of sight. Pay directly at the register whenever possible.
9. Be careful where you discuss your itinerary in public. Do not leave copies of your plans lying around, even in your hotel room.
10. In high risk areas, take hotel transport rather than local taxis. Get the hotel staff to meet you and escort you to and from the hotel car.
11. Take note your room layout. Know where the flashlight and fire escape routes are.
12. Write down the emergency numbers in the country you are visiting and keep them handy.
13. Always assume everything in your destination is different until proven otherwise. Do not assume that you will be able to find your medicine prescription or glasses prescription there.
Erica Rae Chong