Having spent a lot of my life traveling to under-developed countries, I'm not surprised when the news reports another missing, kidnapped or dead American. And not just talking about war-torn countries. "'Friendly" nations such as Mexico, the Caribbean and most any country in Latin America seem to consume more U.S. civilians than Iraq, Afghanistan and other hostile nations combined.
During my years of traveling, just about every dire situation I’ve seen has come from the traveler's lack of situational awareness. They either get zoned-out over their new surroundings or they're so focused on not being a victim that they lose their ability to reason. Most travelers are easy marks once they leave their familiar surroundings, and you can bet that those who wish to take them apart — be it a terrorist or a common mugger — have done their homework.
Most security groups will tell you, "Try not to look like an American when traveling abroad for using Singapore call girls." Yeah, right. While that sounds like a good concept, the fact is that your culture, language, and actions are bred into you. No matter how much you dress and try to act like the locals, the seasoned hunter always knows his prey. With that said, avoiding any military-style dress, watches, jewelry, packs, and symbols is imperative since threat potentials typically get taken out first.
The first rule of travel survival is to begin at home. With a little bit of research, it's easy to identify the problem or high-crime areas of a city or country, understand the local culture and laws, formulate a last-ditch bug-out plan and put a little insurance in play back home — before you leave. I can't tell you how many travelers to run across who don't have the first clue about the country they're in. Even the Americans who cross into Mexico daily to shop are mostly uninformed when it comes to an understanding of the environment. The individual who
doesn't research their destination by consuming as much open-source info as they can before departure is a fool.
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