INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RISKS:                       
Safety, Security, Threats              
By Scott Stoddard

     American travelers should be increasingly alert to the hazards of
overseas travel and should prepare ahead of time for the possible dangers.
Terrorist attacts, kidnappings, air disasters, bombings, hotel fires, and 
ordinary street crimes are becoming more prevalent each year. 
     The State Dept. reports that the number of terrorist incidents involving
American citizens is about 800 per year. The overall American death toal from
terrorism is over 400 persons.     
     Weeks and even months before you plan to travel to a foreign land, you
should develop a systematic plan for handling travel hazards. This plan can 
be broken into three sections.

     Vaccinations may be required before entering certain countries. The 
"WORLD STATUS MAP", updated on a monthly basis, lists what countries require 
colera, typhoid and yellow fever vaccination. It is available by writing: 
     P.O.Box 466
     Merrifield, VA 22116
     301-564-8473  [cost is $6.00]     
     Plan to get these inoculations early. Some may require more than one 
inoculation which need to be given at least a week apart. And could be as 
much as a month apart. If you are going to areas with malaria you should 
start taking malaria prophylaxis pills two weeks before departure for them to 
be effective.     
     Another source for vaccine information is: 
     John Hopkins University, 
     The International Health Clinic, 
     Hampton House, Room 113, 
     624 North Broadway, 
     Baltimore ,MD 21205.
     Call 301-955-8931 week days between 9am-5pm.     

     They offer a complete range of vaccines along with pre-trip and 
post-trip consultations with doctors who specialize in infectious diseases 
and international health.      
     Visas and passports should be obtained at least a month before departure. 
When getting passport photos, always order extra copies on multipules of two.
These extra photos might be used on visas, drivers permits, or for a new 
passport if yours is lost or stolen.     
     If you already have a valid passport, make sure that the old entry 
stamps will not cause you any problems when entering your country of 
destination. An Israeli entry stamp will not look good if you are planning a 
trip to an Arab country. If this is the case, get a new passport.     
     Terrorism is a major concern for travelers in these turbulent times. 
Actually, you are probably safer traveling abroad than walking down a city 
street at night in a major U.S. city. It is wise, however, to make plans in 
the event of a terrorist incident and learn ways to reduce your risk.     
     Keep a file at home and at the office that contains the following 
important items: your itinerary, including flight numbers and hours of 
departure, a photocopy of your airline ticket, passport, a record of your 
blood type and Rh factor,a list of special health conditions or medical 
restrictions, your eye-glass perscription, a photocopy or list of travelers 
check numbers and an emergency communication plan.     
     In the home file folder be sure to include a valid will, a record of 
financial affairs that require administration, a power of attorney over your 
financial affairs to your spouse or a designated person, checks and deposit 
slips for your joint account, your key to a joint safe-deposit-box, a 
photocopy of your credit cards, copies of your life and health insurance 
policies and instructions on what to do in case of hi-jacking or kidnapping: 
who to contact, what to say to the press ("company policy against 
     An emergency communications plan is a list of key-words or a code that 
you can keep in both home and office files and is used when kidnappers or 
terrorists permit you to speak or write to outsiders. Make the list short so 
you can memorize it. To help you remember the code list, the first letter of 
each word on the list should form a simple acronym. 'ALARMED' = I am in a 
city with street noises. Use as "don't be alarmed"  'SAD' = I am being beaten 
and/or tortured. Use as "sad to miss you"   'GIVE' = I am in a rural area 
with no street noise. Use as "give my love..."   'MANY' = I am among many 
armed captors. Use as "many thanks for your love and support"   'ALL RIGHT' = 
I am OK, well treated. Use as "I'm all right"   'GOOD' = I am injured or sick.  
Use as "I'm in good health" *note that the first letters of ALARMED, SAD, 
GIVE, MANY, ALL RIGHT, and GOOD spell out ASG-MAG (American Survival Guide 
Magazine).This acronym or any other word you can come up with will help you 
remember your set of code words. 


     The National Transportation Safety Board,(NTSB), and many flight 
attendants say that the safest seats are in the rear of an airplane. While 
those seated in the rear of the airplane have a better chance of surviving 
the intial impact of the crash, prompt evacuation to escape fire and smoke is 
extremely important. Because fire will probably block exits on one side of 
the plane, aisle seats with quick access to exits on both sides and the rear 
are recommended.     
     Cotton and pure wool are good fabrics to wear while traveling aboard 
commercial jet aircraft. Synthetic fabric like polyester and nylon should be 
avoided. They tend to melt when exposed to fire, increasing the threat of 
     A new product offered by Survival Products Inc. called "SURVIVAID" will 
increase your chances of escaping a fiery plane crash. Weighing less than 5 
ounces and stored in a small plastic envelope measuring 5.5" X 8", Survivaid 
is a flame proof hood that is placed over your head. It contains a passive 
filter that removes harmfull particulate matter from the smoke and absorbs 
toxic fumes and gases. The SURVIVAID can be ordered for $29.95 from: 
                       SURVIVAL PRODUCTS INC., 
                       P.O.Box 100428, 
                       Fort Worth, TX 76185   

     This product can be also used to increase get-away time in an office or 
hotel fire.     

     During a hi-jacking incident, the safest seats are those located over 
the wing in the mid to aft section of the plane. Because the cockpit is where 
the terrorist will be concentrating their efforts, a seat near the rear, and 
not an isle seat, will be the safest.     
     The 1985 TWA hi-jacking of Flght 874 in Athens and the 1986 Pan Am 
hi-jacking of flight 73 in Karachi show that terrorist, after securing the 
plane, will single out Americans... especially government/military personnel 
for the roughest treatment or execution.     
     The terrorist will demand all passengers passports. Try to stall or 
delay handing over your passport by keeping it in your carry-on luggage in 
the overhead compartment. That way if the hi-jacker forces you to move to 
another seat, you will not have your passport with you.     
     Eventually you may have to give up your passport. Avoid carring a 
briefcase of anything else that might signal to the terrorist that you might 
be a business traveler. If you carry an Official Passport, or a Diplomatic 
Passport, get a tourist pass-port also. Show this one if you are forced to 
surrender your passport.


     After passing though customs, you will need to find a taxi or bus to get 
you to your hotel. Walking out of the terminal with luggage in hand is one of 
the most risky times for a traveler. Airports are becoming increasingly 
crowded, and that makes it easier for pick-pockets and thieves. Carry your 
documents and money in a safe pocket or zipped away in your carry-on bag.     
     Once at your hotel, make sure you know where every exit is on your floor 
in case of fire or other disaster. Know where the fire exit is to go down 
and the exit to go up to the roof. The disasterous hotel fire in 1986 at the 
DuPont Hotel in Pureto Rico showed that this may be critical information 
needed to survive.     
     To avoid attention when out wandering around the city, dress as the 
natives dress. Act like you know where you are going even if you don't. Don't 
wear jewlery, and use a cheap watch to keep track of time.     
     If you are in a country with a possible terrorist threat, vary your 
routine and routes to avoid repetition. Avoid publicity or association with 
others who may be terrorist targets. Also don't let your office or hotel 
staff know your schedule or plans in advance. Your schedule should be known 
only to your family, those traveling with you and your client or host.     
     In countries where rioting is a problem, the safest action is to go away 
from the disturbance and stay indoors. If you are in the street when a 
shooting takes place, lie down immediatly and cover your head with your arms. 
Don't get up untill the shooting stops. Then get away as fast as possile. If 
you are in your hotel room when the shooting starts, close the curtains and
put the mattress or bed against the window. Turn out the lights and get out 
of the danger area.     
     In a country with possible unrest it is wise to regester at the U.S. 
Embassy the first thing after arrival. The U.S. Embassy can provide limited 
help in certain emergency situations. Should you require medical assistance 
in a foreign country, a list of English speaking doctors can be obtained. New 
passports can be issued for $42.00 should yours become lost or stolen. The 
embassy will help locate missing Americans and can offer help in times of 
civil unrest and natural disaster.     
     Be carefull to avoid legal problems during your stay. In many countries 
there are certain things you should not photograph: bridges, military 
installations, public buildings, ect. Be aware of these restrictions. Avoid 
anything to do with illegal drugs including marijuana and cocaine. The State 
Dept reports that over 900 Americans were arrested in 1985 for violations of 
local narcotic laws. 70% of these arrests were in Jamaica, Mexico, and the 
Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and West Germany.     
     If you are detained or arrested by the host country, ask to call your 
enbassy. If the situation looks bad and there are onlookers, throw a hand 
full of business cards and shout for everyone to report your problem to the 
U.S. Embassy. Under international conventions you have the right to call 
your embassy. Continue to politely request this right.     
     International travel offers a unique view of the world and the benefits 
and pleasures available should be sought after. A knowledgable and prepaired 
traveler recognizes that travel does pose some risks. Taking steps to reduce 
those risks will help make your trip more pleasurable and memorable. -= END