Keep Your WITS About You!

W - Watch everything

Scan your surroundings every few minutes to note changes in your surroundings or behaviors in others that could mean trouble. Stay aware of exits and hazards. Don’t focus all your attention on your cell phone, tablet or maps, etc. Make steady, but non-threatening eye contact with people who appear to be watching you.

I – Trust your Intuition

Trust your gut feelings and intuition. Notice other people, what they wear and what they carry – look for things that don’t seem right. If a situation or interaction feels wrong, it may be wrong. Say “no” and step away. Too much pressure from others usually means a scam in play.

T – Think ahead

Know your route and your next steps. Use apps like Google Street View to see your path.

Plan for the unexpected. In every new environment, think through possible scenarios and how you might react.

Check the local news and US State Department website for reports of demonstrations or protests and avoid those areas.

S – Secure your valuables

Keep your belongings and money secure. Only bring what you need; leave heirlooms and expensive items at home. Use the hotel safe or invest in a slash-proof lock bag and secure it to an inconspicuous fixture in your room.  Make it as hard as possible for someone to walk away with your stuff!

Don’t keep all your eggs in the same basket! Divide your money and papers and keep them in separate places on your person, for instance, keep your large bills in a money belt, small bills and change in your front pocket, and emergency cash (about $50) in your sock or shoe. Wear your backpack or purse across your front.

In crowded places, guard against professional pickpockets. Position yourself away from other people as much as possible, and try to stand or sit against a wall. Keep your positions in front of you and, preferably, in contact with your body.

On a bus or train, turn sideways in your seat to keep your back against the side of the vehicle. Try to stay awake. If you must dose, make sure your bags and carry items are attached to you by straps or carabiners. Place your arms, hands or feet on your items.

Memorize important contacts. Make copies of everything: your passport, your itinerary, the front and back of your credit cards, etc. Give one set to someone at home, keep one set with you - email a copy to yourself so you have cloud access.