You’ve probably heard all the usual safety advice a hundred times by now…
You probably know all the important bits too – from reporting suspicious items to checking local news and travel advice for your destination and travel route, and making sure your travel insurance covers all eventualities, such as natural disasters and terrorism – just in case.
Those things are incredibly important, but as we’ve told you in our reports on the latest Global Terrorism Index, our world is constantly changing. That’s why this week, we’re looking at ways to take our travel safety to the next level and be ultra-aware.
Remember, these tips don’t replace basic advice like “Run, Hide, Tell” – they’re intended to add to those. Read more about travel safety basics.
Safety From The Start
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has shared some excellent advice on improving safety in airports, and we think a lot of this applies to large railway stations too.
“Minimise the time you spend in the public areas,” is their key piece of advice, as once you go through security there’s a lot more protection.
These tips will also help to speed up the endless holiday queues, and they’re all really simple:
- Check in online – then there’s no need to stand in long queues.
- Weigh your suitcases at home to ensure you’re within the airline’s limit – avoid extra charges or a stressful re-packing session at the luggage drop counter.
- Make sure your hand luggage doesn’t contain prohibited items, and put permitted liquids and gels into a clear plastic bag. Pack these last so they’re easy to get to when you go through security.
- Avoid wearing metal buckles and jewellery that set off alarms and result in going back and forth through the metal detector.
- If you can’t immediately see the luggage drop or check-in desk that you need, ask someone right away – don’t wander around an open area searching for it.
- Plan for your arrival – how will you be getting to your hotel? If you’re going to use public transport, find out where to go and which routes you need in advance.
Where To Go
We firmly believe that the risk of terrorism is not high enough to warrant staying home, and it is impossible to predict when or where an attack might take place, so choosing a destination should entail a combination of relevant information and following your dreams!
Popular attractions such as Christmas markets, museums and galleries will have extra security in place this holiday season and while these can mean waiting a little longer, they provide infinitely greater peace of mind. We would usually choose an event or attraction with lots of security over one where bags aren’t checked at the entrance.
When planning your holiday activities, keep in mind that common targets now tend to include:
- Busy areas that aren’t well protected
- High-profile areas/attractions
- Transport networks
- Significant dates/festivals/anniversaries
You don’t necessarily need to avoid these, but it is a good idea to plan your visit with safety in mind, and perhaps limit the time you spend in a higher-risk area.
For example, main promenades are great to have a look at, but these days they often have the same row of stores we find at home, with the added fun of tripping over thousands of other visitors and their selfie sticks along the way. One or two streets over, however, cities like Barcelona, Brussels and Amsterdam are treasure troves of quirky local art, authentic street food, and unique architecture.
As we have told you before (endlessly, we know, but it’s important) it’s a good idea to check safety features in these areas – are the pavements and walkways protected by concrete bollards, street furniture, or other barricades? Is there a visible security presence? Is there an easy exit route?
Awareness Improves Safety
Wherever you go, keeping your wits about you is essential. Know where the exits are, have a plan in case you get separated from your group, and leave the area immediately if you think something is suspicious – rather be wrong and have a laugh about it afterwards.
If you are getting ready to travel and do not yet have travel insurance, make sure you get some pronto! And remember, you can top up with comprehensive terrorism cover (often limited or excluded by standard policies) for as little as £4.96 per person for up to 8 days, to add even more peace of mind this festive season.