People worldwide are victims of assault and robbery every day. Be it in their own backyard or anywhere around the globe, violence prowls. Tourism has long been labeled a crime generator, and today it’s more prevalent and brutal than ever.
Female travelers are choice targets for verbal abuse, harassment, sexual assaults, and kidnapping, amongst general crime and danger that already has the power to control our freedom to live and stay alive. What’s more – human trafficking is a current, global issue for any gender.
Level 4 Travel Bans have made headlines. These Do Not Travel warnings for terrorism threats, war, arbitrary enforcement of local laws, high crime rates, and other personal security issues are risk indicators assessed by one’s government. The United States currently issues travel advisory levels for more than 200 countries globally, and for those ignoring these high-risk warnings – will you be ready for anything?
Mexico has become synonymous with horrifying accounts of the street and gang violence, carjackings, kidnappings, and even extortion. What’s more, despite the heightened level of brutal crime, last year, 20 million American tourists flew into the spring break mecca, a hot tourist destination!
But – were they prepared to expect the unexpected? Did they know how to protect themselves? Other destinations to caution were France for possible civil unrest or terrorism. And the Bahamas for crime.
The circumstances ahead of you are unknown. So what measures you take will always rely on your real-world Krav Maga training and your readiness for any threat.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal”
– Paulo Coelho
Aside from places formally declared unsafe, there is still lethal risk involved in the rest of the vast world. Be it a family beach resort in Maui, a ritzy weekend away in Dubai, or walking through the most beautiful alleys of Santorini, you must be adept at danger avoidance while traveling for work or play.
If you’re not vigilant, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in. So with the travel season in process, exploring safety in a foreign country is something to blog about.
After all, traveling propels the need to practice on the daily – jetsetter or not. So, for the purpose of this blog, I have put together some expert tips on how to relax and stay safe when traveling. As a self-defense guru, who empowers through personal protection, and avid traveler, I’m armed with the skill set to prepare you for any plight or peril under the sun.
Travel Tip #1
Do listen to your brain:
Your brain functions like a computer. It collects information about what is happening around you, and it will alert you to something that could be pertinent or valuable. Perhaps the sound of footsteps close behind you, an argument between two people, or simply an uncomfortable feeling. What’s critical about this process is your ability to listen to your brain when it’s sending you a message. It’s the warning you won’t want to miss.
Your brain is a powerful self-defense weapon! When it senses trouble, your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, and it becomes labored to pump oxygen, stimulate nutrients and circulate blood to your dominant muscle groups. What’s more, since your blood is being redirected, you may feel clammy or cold, as your face also becomes flushed. You’ll also begin to sweat to cool the body’s internal temperature. Your pupils join in this chain reaction by dilating to allow more light to enter, awarding improved vision.
All in all – it’s your body preparing for survival. Fight or flight is a natural, physiological response to perceived danger. It’s your brain’s retort to a threat in your environment. More specifically, once the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, your body is immediately challenged to adapt to survive. Train hard to listen to your brain – your life depends on it.
Travel Tip #2
Do learn how to eye gauge:
Learning self-defense basics like eye gouging, groin kicks, elbow strikes, and other simple techniques are for everyone, always. Although being able to defend yourself with these fundamental moves is a stellar start before heading out to your foreign destination. More instruction means more life-saving practice. So Krav Maga and reality based self-defense are excellent traveling companions.
It’s critical to reiterate how paramount it is for women, whether solo traveler or not, to be armed against anything that could threaten their safety. Insight is their first line of power. A critical part of self-defense training will focus on a diverse scenario that demands various possible strategies and techniques. You’ll explore skills such as de-escalating, improvised weapons, and great escapes. Understanding plan b and even plan c or d make real-world self-defense compulsory for everyone while exploring new places.
Travel Tip #3
Do walk this way:
While traveling, you’ll be spending most of your time walking. It could be amongst crowds in a busy market or through a narrow underground metro system. You may find yourself on a spontaneous solo mountain hike or simply taking in some local sightseeing. Wherever it is, walking the walk is pivotal to avoid being an easy target.
- When navigating the city or countryside, keep your head up, your posture confident, your eyes alert, and project your situational awareness.
- While on the move, scan your environment and locate escape routes and exits along the way.
- You never want to stand out with showy displays of wealth – clothing and jewelry should be subtle, and respectful of a country’s customs. It’s best to leave the designer labels and Cuban links at home.
- Your attire will express your respect for a country’s religious values; keeping things loose and conservative is fluid with most religions. And women – it’s always available to have a scarf for cover on hand.
- Knowing when to hold your tongue is also valuable. Overall loud, bold, or rowdy behavior is risky and dangerous.
The idea is to blend in as a local rather than a tourist, who is more apt to carry cash, credit cards, and valuables like cameras and cellphones.
Travel Tip #4
Do prepare to stay connected:
It’s imperative to always ensure your cell phone is charged and you have a portable charger on hand – make sure you have your embassy’s contact info with you at all times.
It’s a valuable tactic to bring physical copies of your passport, and take digital photos of your passport on your smartphone. At the same time provide copies to close friends and family who can email them to you if you lose this critical document.
What’s more, sharing your itinerary and setting up GPS tracking will allow them to pinpoint your location in a potential emergency.
Travel Tip #5
Do have a smart checklist:
Krav Maga, at its core, is about being prepared for anything. So with this in mind, it’s good to prepare a blueprint of random what-if scenarios that could arise, compromise your safety, and even end your life.
- What if your car breaks down?
- What if you get lost?
- What if someone tries to hurt you?
- What if your backpack gets stolen?
- What if your credit card stops working?
- What if someone kidnaps you?
- What if you are drugged or incapacitated?
Being able to map out a solution or strategy while you have the time and foresight is choice of ammunition to be armed with.
Travel Tip #6
Do slow down:
While traveling is exciting, even exhilarating, its benefits are more than physical. The wonders of exploring new horizons also boost your mental and emotional health. So although learning Krav Maga will trump any travel checklist – I’d like to think that overall you do relax. Fear is designed to keep you alive – not to keep you from living.
Vacation is to relax, restore and rejuvenate, and to break away from the daily. It’s the healthy fix you need to boost happiness and satisfaction. So, once you learn the art of staying alive with Krav Maga, let the unexpected good times roll.
Planning and researching the destination you’re traveling to is a dynamic combination. Being well-informed of a country’s laws, reporting crime, and your legal right as a tourist is judicious. It’s always helpful to look up areas to avoid and the most common scams that tourists are experiencing while on the move – including the bump and grab!
It’s pivotal to also keep in mind that hospitality worldwide is ample and part of the wonderful marvel of travel, but it’s wise not to take spontaneous or uninvited gifts, drinks, or food from any stranger. – you never know who or what you are dealing with. So, aim to politely decline.
Safe travel necessitates a quick and sometimes abrupt adjustment to a different environment, and it’s also time to practice your improvised weapon training – since your self-defense weapons are forbidden while traveling. Knowledge is always power, and it’s something I reiterate on the daily. Learning is an integral part of my real-world self-defense and personal mindset training – the practice never stops.
In the meantime, safe travels!