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Personal Safety: Advice for The Rookie

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As anyone can tell you having the opportunity to travel is a great perk of life. However, just like at home or work, personal security is something that should always be at the back of one’s mind especially when traveling with family. As a former Deportation Officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one of my responsibilities was to escort individuals back to their home countries after being ordered removed from the United States. In this capacity, I had to travel to countries with known issues regarding personal safety to the local residents, let alone U.S. citizens.

But whether you are in the U.S. or in a foreign country there are a few things you can do to keep yourself out of harm’s way. First is what security experts tell you to do and that is be mindful of your surroundings. Just how is the average person with little or no training supposed to that? For those of us in the business of law enforcement, security, protection, or intelligence, personal security is an unconscious second nature habit.

Personal Safety tips for traveling

So, when I’m asked by friends and family how to stay safe as they travel this first rule is what I stress the most. My advice to them is what I was taught as a rookie by my peers; the best way to stay safe is to not get in a dangerous situation in the first place.


Frequent places where mothers with children and seniors are present.


Mothers with small children are very watchful of their surroundings and tend to notice when the bad elements of society wonder into their area. When that happens, you can see these mothers go into what I call the “Mother Hen” mode. The mothers openly begin to gather and shield their children from a perceived danger. Likewise, seniors have mastered the art of subtle observation and like the mother hens, when the personal risk level goes up seniors, quickly and quietly, remove themselves from the area.

These two simple tips are effective because mothers are constantly in a protective mode when out and about and seniors didn’t become seniors by remaining in the wrong place at the wrong time. If an average person can remember just these two personal safety tips then hopefully, the only danger they will face is sunburns and bad food.

The second personal tip I would pass on is, stay on the beaten path, and there truly is safety in numbers. Sometimes when we are looking to unwind, if on a business trip, we think going off the beaten path may lead to the making of an unexpected memory. No doubt there will be memories but they may not be the kind you may want to include in your home movies or, in the current trend, Facebook. So, if you go where other tourist go or visit the popular spots your wallet may be the only victim of a tourist trap.

Of course, these two tips are not meant to be a cure all but there a good start to personal safety when traveling. Short of joining an agency or attending private courses, such as those offered by Jason Hanson, you can never go wrong if you just listen to your gut.

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