in public and making yourself invisible
on the street.
Odom said the majority of terrorist attacks take place in the public areas of
airports, “That’s where your attention to
risk should be sky high,” he cautioned.
“Spend as little time as possible in the
public areas of the airport like check-in
and baggage claim.” The gate area is actually more secure than the public areas
because everyone has passed through security at that point.
Odom said that people who survive attacks in public areas do so because they
immediately drop to the ground and
take cover. If someone starts firing a gun,
Odom said to get as low as possible on the
floor and seek cover if possible.
When arriving overseas, be cautious
with how much information is shared
with immigration and customs agents.
Odom recommends being somewhat
vague when describing your job and responsibilities. Use terms like businessman, consultant or even say you’re retired
instead of an executive, president or other
position to minimize the risk of kidnapping for ransom.
He also cautioned against giving a
home address and recommends providing a business address when overseas,
and only using an actual home address
when returning to the U.S.
Tourists being met by a pre-arranged
driver should not use their full name on
the sign or any indication that they’re
Americans. Odom suggests using some
more generic such as Señor Lopez or Go-mez in a Latin American country. Even
using just initials will provide a level of
anonymity and protection.
While the most secure way to get into
Hotel room security
town is through a pre-arranged driver,
Odom says that hotel vans are another
safe and reliable way to get around be-
cause they are rarely attacked. If taking
a taxi, make sure to use only a legitimate
taxi service because they are usually reg-
istered and controlled. Gypsy or pirate
cabs may be cheaper, but they could also
be driven by criminals and cost far more
in the long run.
When booking a hotel, there are several
factors to consider. As evidenced by some
of the attacks overseas, terrorists do target large iconic hotels, but Odom said
that they also tend to have better security
than some of the smaller boutique hotels.
However, smaller hotels may be less likely
to be targeted.
Once in the room, check all of the locks,
chains and u-bars. Travelers can purchase
a variety of portable door alarms and
locks that will provide a good measure
of security. Also make sure that the hotel
room phone works in case of an emergency, and review the escape route from
the room in the event of a fire. “Murphy’s
law dictates that if there is a fire, it will be
at 2 a.m.,” stated Odom.
When using an in-room safe, Odom
said to always recognize that you use it at
your own risk. If something is particularly valuable it’s better to use the hotel’s safe
Traveling around town
The principle risk for most travelers is
street crime explained Odom. Criminals
go where the money is and the highest
crime areas tend to be the resort and financial districts because that is where the
wealthy tourists spend time.
“Always walk with purpose,” he advised,
“and act like this is your town. Don’t put
anything in your pockets you don’t want
to lose, and don’t display any wealth.”
Be particularly cautious when ap-
proached by strangers asking for direc-
tions or the time. “They’re trying to slow
you down so they can work you,” said
He also cautions that travelers should
be aware of any unrest or political insta-
bility in the countries they will be visiting.
If a coup occurs, he advised just staying
in the hotel room and not trying to get
to the airport. “They will shut that down
immediately,” he said. “Call your family
and the American Embassy in that city or
country to let them know where you are,
but just hunker down in the hotel.”
If employees are traveling for work,
Odom cautioned against letting them
know if the company carries kidnap
and ransom insurance. “That’s the first
thing they’d tell the kidnappers,” he
explained. Instead, tell them there is a
travel “program” in place and if anything
happens, the company will do its best to
Odom said that people can generally travel safely anywhere except for war
zones if they know what they’re doing.
Taking some practical, common sense
steps can be the difference between a
dream vacation or a nightmare.
“Always walk with purpose and act like
this is your town. Don’t put anything
in your pockets you don’t want to
lose, and don’t display any wealth.”