We can all remember where we were at on that picture-perfect autumn morning in 2001; I had just gotten up, turned on CNN and was making a cup of coffee when I was jolted out of half-slumber and into the new reality we've all been faced with over the past 15 years. The terror attacks we've seen this year alone in Paris, Brussels, Orlando and now Turkey might very well be just the beginning; a new reality the global population has to live with.
Uncertainty is everywhere. Last week, Great Britain chose to leave the European Union; markets are in turmoil, and the US election has made our country the laughing stock of the world. Think I'm kidding? Fly on any intra-European flight and you'll most likely encounter a seatmate that can't wait to discuss US politics - and chances are, they'll asume that you love Trump. At least that was my experience a few weeks ago.
The tragedy in Istanbul (not to e confused by Constantanople) highlights this type of jihadi behavior is no longer isolated and "happens to other people" - it's becoming more frequent and prevelant. With this in mind, what have we learned and what do we need to do to protect ourselves when traveling abroad?
Awareness is where we all need to start. As American's, it is much too easy to be carefree within our comfort zone of a relatively safe country. We take a lot for granted and are often not that tuned in to our surroundings. Below is a simple list of things you can do that will help you relax and increase your chances of safety when outside of our normal bubble.
- Be observant; inconspicuously keep an eye out amongst your surroundings. Are you being followed? Is someone wearing a large coat in the summer? If you see something out of the ordinary, don't gawk, get out of there and report what you saw to the police.
- When traveling alone, make sure that a trusted person knows your basic itinerary, where you're staying, and the dates of your travel.
- The Director of Natonal Intelligence advises American's traveling abroad to not use their personal cell phones - they should pick up a burner phone for that trip. In doing so, make sure to keep it fully charged, and let those close to you know your temporary number.
- Utilize a personal protection app such as Virtual Halo - it will allow you to let your trusted network know that you're safe, along with your location. In the vent of an actual emergency, it will also let them know you're in trouble and where to find you. It's simple and could safe your life.
- Don't put yourself in harms way. If in the subway and the cars are packed full, don't try to cram on, wait for the next car. Don't hitch hike, avoid talking to strangers, etc. Basically, use common sense - listen to the voice in your head.