The U.S. State Department recently issued a travel alert warning of a heightened terrorist threat in Europe during the holiday season. Increased security is to be anticipated in urban centers, airports, tourist locations and Christmas markets throughout Europe, including France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. ISIS continues to publish aspirational threats against targets in Europe via social media with direct reference to the holiday season. While this alert currently expires on January 31, 2018, it serves today as a reminder of the importance of pre-trip education and preparedness.
Whether the holiday hustle and bustle has you traveling to tie up year-end business activities or to be present at fun family events, you must remember the importance of your personal safety and security! Here are a few tips to keep in mind so that your holiday season stays safe and memorable for all the right reasons:
- Maintain a heightened sense of confidence and situational awareness. Always be alert to suspicious behavior and trust your intuition.
- Travel in groups of two or more when you are able. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Program emergency contact information into your mobile device so you have easy access to security and medical support, if needed.
- Keep your mobile phone charged and with you at all times. Ensure the appropriate data plan is activated for your destination.
- Make two copies of your passport and other important identification documents (leave a copy of these documents at home or in the office with someone you trust).
- Pack valuables (e.g. laptops, cameras, jewelry, mobile devices) in carry-on luggage. Minimize the handling of this luggage by others and keep track of your valuables at all times.
- Use a privacy screen when using your laptop in any public space (e.g. hotel lobbies and airplanes). Use caution when downloading or clicking on any unknown links.
- Prepare your home appropriately while you are away. If you have a security system, ensure that it is working properly and arrange for someone you trust to check on your home periodically.
- Refrain from posting details about your trip on social media until you return home. This information can be exploited by others and highlights that your home is unoccupied, making it an easier target for burglary or other
- Watch the weather. Not only can it impact your packing list, it can also cause delays or inconveniences that may impact your travel.