Out and About in Other Countries
Guard Your Passport
Your passport is the most valuable document you carry abroad. It confirms that you are an American citizen. Do not carry your passport in the same place as your money or pack it in your luggage. Remember to keep your passport number in a separate location in case it is lost or stolen.
In some countries you might be required to leave your passport overnight or for several days with the hotel management. This might be local practice--do not be concerned unless the passport is not returned as promised.
If your passport is lost or stolen abroad, immediately report it to the local police, obtain a copy of the report and contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new passport. AIG WorldRisk® customers needing assistance filing reports, including translation services, may contact Travel Guard®, a Chartis company, where Travel Assistance Coordinators can help you. Toll-free telephone numbers are listed on your AIG WorldRisk® identification cards.
Heed Local Advice
It is best to take advice on the areas that are safe to visit and those that should be avoided. Tourist areas that are safe during the day can sometimes change character after dark. In some cities, the only secure way for a visitor to travel is in a taxi that has been arranged by the hotel.
Traveling On Foot
If you will be moving around a city on foot, these "Do's" and "Don'ts" can help you:
- Take a street guide with you whenever you go out.
- Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy with you.
- Do not wear an expensive wristwatch or jewelry and do not carry a lot of cash. Avoid outward signs of affluence.
- When making purchases, avoid displaying large amounts of cash or a number of credit cards.
- Carry your wallet in your front trouser pocket or your handbag in front of you, with the clasp towards the body.
- Walk in the middle of the pavement and keep away from alleys and other places where you could be accosted.
- If, by chance, you find yourself in an area you feel worried about, look straight ahead, walk quickly but not hurriedly, and try to appear as if you know where you are going.
- Do not take photographs of military personnel or installations unless you are absolutely sure it is allowed.
- Never exchange currency with persons who approach you on the street. You could face arrest and imprisonment if caught.
- Be careful about traveling in elevators. If you are in doubt, don't. If you are already in an elevator and someone suspicious gets in, get out right away.
- If you are jostled, almost knocked over by a car which stops suddenly in front of you when crossing the road, or surrounded by a group of children begging, you should assume that you are being distracted to facilitate picking your pocket, stealing your handbag or taking your watch. If you react instinctively if this happens, you might avoid losing your belongings. Pickpockets can be very quick.
Traveling By Car
Avoid driving a car in a city or country with which you are unfamiliar and which has a poor security situation. If you must drive a car under these circumstances, remember to:
- Select a rental car that is as inconspicuous as possible. It is best to plan your rentals in advance so you can research the company to make sure you are dealing with a reputable firm.
- Carefully check your route on a street guide and get directions from the hotel before you depart.
- Be aware of areas you should avoid.
- Keep your car doors locked at all times when driving. In some countries, robbers will enter your car when you are stopped at a traffic light.
- For the same reason, do not open your car windows to buy cigarettes, flowers, newspapers, etc., from children at traffic lights or intersections.
- Be careful where you park your car. If it is on a street, under a street light is best. Never leave valuables in the car and always check to make sure that there is no one hiding in the back seat before you enter your car.
- If someone flags you down and appears to have had an accident or a mechanical breakdown, do not stop--drive on. They might be setting you up for a robbery. If you must stop, first drive past, take a good look around and double back. Always try to leave yourself room to maneuver your vehicle and be extremely cautious.
- If you are involved in a collision, exercise caution, particularly if the accident is not your fault. It might be a set-up to rob you. Remain in the car and wait for the police to arrive. If possible, go to the nearest well-lit shopping area and telephone the police.
- Be aware that if you are involved in an accident, particularly if you do not speak the local language, you might be held responsible for any damage or injury, regardless of whether or not you are to blame. You should seek advice prior to leaving the hotel on the procedures to follow in the event of a traffic accident.