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As the summer travel season is upon us, we wanted to pass on a number of critical travel tips if you plan on travelling internationally or domestically. Our team was privileged to attend an Evening with Experts on this topic courtesy of our friends at Crossfirst Bank. Among the presenters were Danny Coulson, retired Deputy Assistant Director at the FBI, and Tegan Broadwater of Tactical Systems Network, a private security and investigation firm in Fort Worth.

We are providing a summary of the tips that we believe could be extremely impactful to you and your loved ones in order to prevent a high-risk situation or help you if a situation arises. We would encourage you to forward this to anyone you know that will be travelling this summer. If you have any questions on the topics below, please do not hesitate to contact us. Have a great and safe summer travel season.

International Protection Tips

  • Before traveling, check with the U.S. State Department for Security Updates and Travel Warnings.
  • Consider checking in with the U.S. Embassy in the countries you are traveling. Save the phone number, contacts, and address/GPS coordinates for each U.S. Embassy.
  • Get a security update from the Embassy when you arrive in the country.
  •  Three foreign countries of current security concern in Western Europe:
  • Sweden
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Make sure you know your wireless provider password/code to call and report, in the event your phone is lost or stolen while traveling.
  • Consider downloading and using “WhatsApp” application as it is the most secure way of confidential and safe communications that can’t be tracked.
  • In foreign countries strongly consider NOT driving a rental car. If possible, avoid Public Transportation. Contact your hotel for the concierge to arrange safe drivers/transportation.
  • Wear clothing (logo shirts, jackets, etc.) that isn’t obviously indicative of being a U.S. Citizen.
  • Don’t wear or bring any fine watches, jewelry or anything that speaks to being wealthy
  • Take a paper photocopy of your passport and have it with your luggage just in case. Also take a picture of your passport and store it in your smart phone for emergencies.
  • Do not take anything that connects you with your company, including clothing with logos or business cards.
  • Take a small flashlight with you when you travel.
  • Take a “flash wad” to surrender to robbers to get them to leave you alone and leave. A “flash wad” is a role of 20 to 40 $1dollar bills with 2 $20-dollar bills wrapping the singles to look like a big wad of bills of $20s. If accosted, give the robber(s) your flash wad and they will most probably leave.

Stateside Protection Tips

  • Kidnapping most often happens when the person(s) are in transit – walking, in a car or cab, or on a train.
  • Young mothers who find themselves in a questionable area or situation with children should quickly put the children in the car (don’t take time to put them in their car seats), get in the driver’s seat, don’t put your seat belt on but start the car, lock the doors and drive into an open and safer location before securing your children in their car seats. Get out of a compromising situation first then worry about getting your children in the car securely.
  • “A gentleman doesn’t insist multiple times.” If a stranger is attempting to talk to you or help you under the guise of being a gentleman and you refuse his help and he persists, this is a warning that a true gentleman will back away and not continue to try and win you over.
  • If you hear a noise that you think is fireworks it is almost assured not… it is probably gun shots. Treat all such noise as a gunshot and run for your life. Try as quickly as possible to exit any enclosed area/building and run to safety NOT necessarily where you may have parked but to the closest exit area. Believe “IT” is happening (a shooting/shooter).
  • Consider using perimeter lighting all around the exterior of your house. Motion activated lights.
  • Consider a big, loud barking dog as a pet.
  • Use cameras, doorbell alarm/cameras, and an alarm system that is independently monitored by a reliable and established alarm monitoring company. Obtain an alarm permit if required by the local police. Dallas requires an alarm permit.
  • Consider setting up your children’s phone so you can track/monitor the phone and the whereabouts of your children. Do the same for yourself.
  • Set up iPhone Emergency SOS in your Settings. Read more about this feature here:
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • As much as possible, try backing into your parking spot so that you can easily drive out of the spot rather than having to back up out of it.
  • Take a photo of your car and its location, so that you know exactly where you are parked. Avoid walking around lost in a parking lot. Avoid activating your emergency button that sounds the car horn. That notifies a potential threat exactly where you are parked.
  • Adjust your car key fob/opener so that only the driver side door opens with the first click or as the fob nears the car to limit how many doors are accessible.
  • Consider downloading and using the “Alto” app for local ride service. Monthly membership fee + the cost of each ride. However, the cars are marked vehicles, owned by Alto, with vetted employees driving rather than contracted drivers driving their own vehicles.