We asked Danny P. Gator of Firebase CSG to share 5 tips for safe international travel. Most of these tips can be applied to domestic travel as well.
Tip 1- Situational Awareness starts before you get on the ground, so do your homework
Research the current events of where you are headed. There may be evidence you are walking into a potential coup d’état situation. Make sure to pick up on trends, such as attacks escalating at your destination. Study the methods of operation of criminals working in the area. How are crimes being committed and who are the targets- Is it robbery, home invasion, pick pocketing or carjacking? Understand the times of day and locations where these incidents occur because having good intelligence can help you form a plan to mitigate risk.
Tip 2 – Be prepared and self-sufficient
As mentioned previously in past articles, work off a Lines of Gear principle. First Line Gear is carried on your body; Second Line Gear is in an EDC bag (every day carry bag). As a principle across all your lines, have items that support medical, communications, and weapons or items that can be used as force multipliers. You can add supplemental equipment as needed. Travel documents stay in your 1st line gear.
Tip 3 – Have a plan to get out
If visiting a high-risk country or area, prepare an emergency exit plan. How will you depart the country if the airport or train system cease operations? Plan overland and/or maritime exit routes. Leave a copy of the plan with someone back home. Included in that plan, make sure you have a check-in procedure every 24 to 48 hours. Your plan should list safe havens, such as US embassies and/or Allied embassies. Have a list of potential destinations along your route where you can be located if there is a communications breakdown. Familiarize yourself with a GPS and transmittal of coordinates via latitude/longitude and Military Grid Reference System.
Tip 4 – Plan for conventional communications to be down
It is a good idea to have a secondary, even tertiary line of communication. Most of us rely on cell signals, Wi-Fi and the Internet for communication. In many cases when a natural disaster or civil unrest occurs, it is first thing to go down. Having a satellite texting unit such as an InReach system from DeLorme can be an invaluable asset. These systems are extremely low cost when compared to satellite phones. The InReach can be connected via Bluetooth to any Cellular phone, allowing you to text. When the system is used to communicate it automatically attaches a latitude and longitude of your location with the message. I never travel abroad without one.
Tip 5 – Train for worst-case scenarios
Look back at the last year, starting from the November 13 Paris attacks. How many tragedies have we watch unfold? There is a common theme, in cases involving terrorist action, or even natural disasters – medical attention will not arrive fast enough. It is up to you to know what to do during a medical emergency or critical incident. It is important we understand the world is not a safe place. You have to consider you or your loved ones are likely to be involved in a life or death emergency where skill sets will be vital to survival. Attend professional medical training that is geared towards treating trauma such as massive hemorrhaging from gunshot wounds and bomb blasts. Learn the MARCH algorithm, which stands for Massive hemorrhaging, Airway, Respiratory system, Circulation, Head injury/hypothermia. Carry a professional first aid kit with the appropriate equipment such as tourniquets and blood stopper bandages. We are in a new era; there are no battle lines and it can happen anywhere;
Always Be Ready.