Family Travel

Continued threats of terrorism, weather-related troubles like hurricanes, earthquakes and the eruption of volcanoes such as that in Iceland, and crimes against travelers including kidnapping, assault, robbery and even murder can make a travel adventurer want to stay home.

Countries and cities around the world continue to experience varying levels of violence. In 2009, ABC News reported that Phoenix, Arizona is the “Kidnapping Capital of the USA,” with more incidents than any other city in the world except Mexico City. A recent New York City bombing attempt in Times Square closed off a prime block where both residents and tourists go to enjoy theater and restaurants, making them evacuate the area while the site was investigated.

As a tourist, traveling to unfamiliar places requires you to remain vigilant of your surroundings. Before you decide where to go, consider several factors including: the local political climate, the economic environment of the area, health and safety risks, crime activity and weather concerns.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you and your family are traveling:

  • Dress sensibly and adopt a neutral dress code. Try not to look like a tourist. In some countries, this may include shorts, sneakers or baseball caps. Also, don’t display your affluence.
  • Choose standard cars over the flashy or luxurious cars.
  • For luggage tags, do not use flashy corporate tags because this tips predators that you are traveling on business. Use covered tags labeled with your business address instead of your home address. If possible, use the address of a person that you are visiting.
  • Outside the United States, stay at a local hotel versus an American chain. Also, women should avoid staying on an “all women” floor.
  • Avoid unauthorized cabs, those unlicensed taxis that can masquerade as a legitimate business. Never flag down a cab yourself, ask the business, restaurant or hotel to call an official taxi service. Women should be especially careful with unauthorized cabs as women are often viewed as a softer target.
  • If you or one your family members enjoy jogging around the hotel neighborhood, check with the concierge to make sure it is safe before you go.
  • Avoid clubs that are tourist traps as well as expatriate hangouts.
  • When shopping, travel with an experienced local who knows the area, especially when shopping for souvenirs.
  • Consider hiring an experienced driver or escort for you and your family in areas of high crime.

These tips are not an exhaustive list. Instead, they serve to help you prepare and think about safety for you and your family as you travel.

Visit the government Web site for the latest in worldwide travel warnings and additional safety tips.

Next: School-Aged Safety