TRAVELING IN AFRICA
Africa has some of the richest history and oldest cultures in the world, and the only way to see them is to travel.  From the Pyramids of Egypt, to the mosques of Morocco. From the beautiful nights in the deserts to the lush green jungles.  Wildlife, art, people, and landscapes make Africa a wonderful place to take in all the earth has to offer.  The wonder of Africa however is deceiving, as just underneath the fantastic beauty lies danger beyond imagine.

No matter where you are in Africa, traveling is dangerous.  In the cities you must constantly be on the lookout for pickpockets, muggers, religious zealots, thieves, rapists, corrupt police and military, beggars, kidnappers and con men.  Your restaurant or hotel might be bombed (regardless of how nice it is), your car might be carjacked, or you might killed for winking at that pretty girl. Disease is the number one killer, and getting malaria or dysentery could very well be the death of you.  Prostitutes carry all sorts of diseases as well, and the drinking water is often contaminated.  Its no better outside the cities, as land mines are still frequent in many areas from past and current conflicts.  Roads deeper in the bush are barely there and more often than not in the case of jungle roads they are overgrown single lane trails.  Corrupt and greedy military and police checkpoints are frequent, as well are bandits and rebels.  Most civilian cars don't have headlights so traveling at night is especially risky, especially since the owners of those cars see no problem zipping around after dark.  In the desert if you get stuck or stranded without a vehicle it is very possible you will die from dehydration and thirst before you ever see another vehicle, much less get it to stop for you.  In the jungle water is not as hard to find, however the animals, rebels and tribal warriors may be much harder to deal with.  Bridges are often nothing more than a few logs, if that.  And there are several large animals that are known to attack vehicles, such as rhino's and hippo's.  Traveling by bus is just as risky, especially since like the cars the buses often don't have headlights, and often the bus will be falling apart, and powered by an engine much to small to be hauling around the weight of a busload of people (Often as engines wear out they will be replaced by the first engine they can find, these usually come out of compact cars or old toyota pickups).  Traveling by train is not much better, as they are often targets for bandits who hold up the trains regularly, mush like the bandits of the american old west.  Trains and buses are also safe havens for pickpockets and the like who can simply get off at the next stop before anyone knows what's happened.  For the most part airplanes are the safest way to travel long distances, however this isn't saying much.  Most of the airplanes, even in the commercial airports are between 30 to 80 years old, are run much harder and abused far greater than anything you have ever seen.  They are barely holding together.  And that isn't even the worst of the problems with air travel in Africa, the pilots are poorly trained, and even if you manage to get a good plane with a competent pilot you can still get shot down by military or rebel forces from the ground with a SAM.  By far walking is the most dangerous method of travel, as it leaves you vulnerable to everyone and everything.

If you are a tourist in Africa, you have basically painted a target on your chest, especially if you are Caucasian.  To most of the population of Africa there is little to no difference if you are American, Canadian or European, you are just a white devil that eats babies and tortures old women for fun.  Be very careful.  Also be very aware of the cultures and customs of the areas you find yourself traveling in.  In many places, especially Muslim areas, showing undue affection towards women, profanity, touching someone with your left hand, and even wearing provocative clothing can get you killed.  If you are a woman it is ten times worse.  No matter where you are do not discuss politics, do not talk religion (unless of course you are a devout follower of the same religion as those you are talking to), and whatever you do do not judge the religions or customs of the people you find yourself surrounded by.  Keep your beliefs and opinions to yourself, even when asked about them, always keep an open mind, and smile at everyone.  It is a lot harder to rob or kill someone who is nice to you than someone who is an asshole.  In short always be respectful.  Always ask permission before taking a photograph or video of anyone or anything, never try to sneak it.  Never try to take a picture of a government installation, building or soldiers.  Never affiliate yourself with anyone in conversation, not even your home country.  Always know where your embassy is, and check in as soon as you enter a country or city that has one, and check in again when you leave.  When in your hotel always make sure your doors and windows are locked, and it is a good idea to leave your television or radio on, especially when you leave.  It is incredibly frequent that hotel rooms get robbed even in the finest hotels.  No matter where you are keep your money, credit cards, ID and passport hidden well, on your person, and in separate places.  Also keep money in your wallet for bribes.  Wear a cheap watch and durable but inexpensive clothing. Remember, the more money it looks like you have the better a target you will make, although just by being foreign you automatically be assumed to be wealthy.  Travel in groups, never alone, and ALWAYS hire a guide.  The same goes for drivers.  The best place to get a guide or driver is either to have someone in the country you know or trust arrange for one, or go through your hotel.  Travel as light as possible, and pay the hotel manager to hold any expensive items.  Whatever you do, don't break any laws, and especially don't do drugs, as the penalties for this may lead to life in prison for the slightest (even imagined) infractions.  If this happens there is very little your embassy can do about it.  The following tips are excerpted (with slight changes) from Fielding's Danger Guide:

RANDOM ENCOUNTER GENERATOR

HOW TO SURVIVE BEING A WESTERN DEVIL

Whether you accept it or not, if you are of European extraction, or were raised on T-bones and Pepsis or even wear Eddie Bauer gear, you will be taken for a Yank, Russian, or Euro in most of Africa. 

Even the African-American traveler finds himself being simply a rich American when he looks for his roots in black Africa. In all cases, understand that along with your American Tourister luggage and Nikes, you carry a different kind of baggage. About 200 years of imperialism, covert action, warfare, occupation and political interference. Also a large part of the world just resents the fact that you are so damned affluent and healthy, and they're not. You may not have bombed Nigeria, smart-bombed innocent Congonese children, overthrown every Central African dictator, shot Hutus in Rwanda or cut down the rain forests to grow cows for your Big Macs, but the chances are good you will be blamed for it.


  • Learn or try to use the local language even if only to say "thank you" and "excuse me." Even learning the phrase, "I love your wonderful country," can get you a lot farther than, "Why the hell don't you wogs learn to speak American?" 
  • Dress conservatively, stay away from obvious American, European, or Japanese brands and logos and do not wear signs of wealth (gold watches, jewelry, expensive cameras, etc.). 
  • Call the local embassy to find out the do's and don'ts. 
  • Don't wear American flag pins, hand out Uncle Sam decals or argue foreign policy. Focus on learning rather than expostulating. 
  • Be compassionate, understanding and noncommittal about the current situation of the country. If you are a target of an anti-American diatribe, ask the person to tell you what he would do if he was President of the United States. He will probably be too shocked at your passive intellectual response to stay angry. 
  • Simple items like sunglasses, air-conditioned cars and lack of language skills can create barriers and misunderstanding. 
  • Say hello to everyone you meet on the street and in the course of your travels. Look people straight in the eye and smile. Be polite, patient and helpful. 

HOW TO SURVIVE WAR ZONES 

Remember that small wars are not a carefully planned or predictable activity. More importantly, land mines, shells, stray bullets and booby traps have no political affiliation or mercy. Keep the following in mind.
  • Contact people who have returned or are currently in the hot zone. Do not trust the representations of rebel or government contacts. Check it out yourself. 
  • Avoid politics, do not challenge the beliefs of your host, be firm but not belligerent about getting what you need. Talking politics with soldiers is like reading Playboy with the Pope. It kills time, but is probably not a rewarding pastime. 
  • Do not engage in intrigue or meetings that are not in public view. They still shoot spies. Do accept any invitations for dinner, tea or social activities. Getting to know your hosts is important. Do not gossip or lie. 
  • Travel only under the permission of the controlling party. In many cases you will need multiple permission from officers, politicians and the regional commander. 
  • Remember that a letter of safe passage from a freedom group presented to an army check point could be your death warrant. Understand and learn the zones of control and protocol for changing sides during active hostilities. 
  • Carry plenty of identification, articles, letters of recommendation and character references. It may not keep you out of jail, but it may delay your captors long enough to effect an escape. 
  • Bring photographs of your family, friends, house, dog or car. Carry articles you have written or ones that mention you. A photo ID is important, but even a high school yearbook can provide more proof. 
  • Check in with the embassy, military intelligence, local businessmen and bartenders. Do not misrepresent yourself, exaggerate or tell white lies. Keep your story simple and consistent. 
  • Dress and act conservatively. Be quietly engaging, affable and listen a lot. Your actions will indicate your intentions as the locals weigh their interest in helping you. It may take a few days for the locals to check you out before they offer any assistance. 
  • Remember that it is very unusual for noncombatants to be wandering around areas of conflict. If you are traveling make sure you have the name of a person that you wish to see, an end destination and a reason for passing through. 
  • Understand where the front lines are, the general rules of engagement, meet with journalists and photographers (usually found at the hotel bar) to understand the local threats. 
  • Carry a lot of money hidden in various places, be ready to leave or evacuate at any time. This means traveling very light. Choose a place to sleep that would be survivable in case of a rocket or shell attack. 
  • Visit with the local Red Cross, UN, Embassy and other relief workers to understand the situation. They are an excellent source of health information and may be your only ticket out. 
  • If warranted buy and wear an armored vest or flak jacket . Carry your blood type and critical info (name, country, phone, local contact, allergies,) on a laminated card or written on your vest. Wear a Medic-Alert bracelet. 
  • Carry a first aid kit with syringes, antibiotics, IV needles, anesthetics and pain killers as well as the usual medication. It might be wise to use auto inject syringes. Discuss any prescriptions with your doctor in advance. 
  • Understand and learn the effect, range and consequences of guns, land mines, mortars, snipers and other machines of war. 
  • Get life and health (and KRE if relevant) insurance and don't lie. Tell them the specific country you will be traveling to. Also check with the emergency evacuation services to see if they can go into a war zone to pull you out. 
  • Carry a military style medical manual to aid in treating field wounds. Take a first aid class and understand the effects and treatment of bullet wounds and other major trauma. 

HOW TO SURVIVE REVOLUTIONARY PLACES 

Although no one can predict a sudden change in government, there are some things that could keep you from appearing on CNN wearing a blindfold.
  • Check in with the embassy to understand the current situation and to facilitate your evacuation if needed. Remember that the local government will downplay the danger posed by revolutionary groups. 
  • Stay away from main squares, the main boulevards, government buildings, embassies, radio stations, military installations, the airport, harbor, banks and shopping centers. All are key targets during takeovers or coups. 
  • If trouble starts, call or have someone contact the embassy immediately with your location. Stay off the streets, and if necessary move only in daylight in groups. Stay in a large hotel with an inside room on the second or third floor. Convert foreign currency into Western currency if possible. Book a flight out. 
  • Understand the various methods of rapid departure. Collect flight schedules, train information and ask about private hires of cars and planes. Do not travel by land if possible. 
  • Do not discuss opinions about the former regime or the current one. Plead ignorance while you wait to see who wins. 
  • Keep your money in US dollars and demand to pay in U.S. currency. Do not depend on credit cards or travelers checks and don't be afraid to demand a discount since who knows what the old money will be worth. 
  • Do not trust the police or army. Remember that there will be many summary executions, beatings and arrests during the first few days of a coup or revolution. 
  • Hire a local driver/guide/interpreter to travel around town and or to go out at night. Don't be shy about hiring bodyguards for your residence or family. 
  • Listen (or have your guide listen) to the local radio station or TV station. Have him update you on any developments or street buzz. When the embassy has set up transport make your move with your bodyguards or guides. 

HOW TO SURVIVE FUNDAMENTALIST PLACES 

When traveling to a fundamentalist-oriented, religiously zealous country, remember to smile, mind your own business, respect their customs and leave your personal opinions at home. Some religions tend to be a little more tolerant of loud-mouthed, boorish outsiders, but areas like Algeria are very intolerant. It's touch and go if you are a heathen, risky to be a Jew and better to just be a Christian if you are asked.
  • Muslims are more conservative in rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Despite other guidebooks' warnings, Muslims understand that Christians have different customs and won't lop your head off the first time you make a faux pas by passing the falafel with your left hand. 
  • Be very careful in the area of sexual conduct, behavior at religious sites and deportment with women and religious objects. Sexually provocative clothes, obscene gestures, defiling the Koran, theft or insulting the prophet and women will get you in trouble. 
  • Do not proselytize, preach or conduct religious functions without permission of the local government. Do not wear religious symbols or use expressions that use the name of Christ, Allah, God or other religious entities. 
  • Read and understand the Koran and tenants of Islam. Most Muslims will be impressed that you have read the Koran and if you ask them questions about their religion. 
  • Feel free to admit that you are a Christian, but express your interest in knowing more about the Koran and Islamic way of life. Being a "student of all religions" is a good cop-out for the philosophically challenged. But beware that students and older men are very pleased to proselytize the word of Allah to a potential convert. 
  • If you are Jewish and traveling in a fundamental Islamic area, your life may be at risk by identifying yourself as Jewish or discussing an opposing point of view. Also understand there are strong feelings between Shia and Sunni Muslim sects. 
  • Do not squeeze hands when shaking, you may touch your chest after shaking hands in the traditional Muslim greeting. The left hand is considered unclean because, yes, rural Muslims wash their nether regions with that hand. Muslims also squat to urinate and find the Western habit of urinating with legs akimbo and penis pointing, far too theatrical for their tastes. 
  • Dress cleanly and conservatively, remove your shoes in mosques and temples. Do not point the soles of your feet to your host, use your right hand to eat, greet and pass objects around. Expect to be kissed on both cheeks by men. Friday is the holy day and anything else you need to know will be communicated to you by your hosts or friends. 
  • Ask permission before taking pictures, do not insist or sneak photos. Do not take photographs of women or the infirm or elderly. Don't blow your nose in public. Don't eat walking around. Don't admire objects in a host's home (he will feel obligated to give them to you). Gifts are expected when visiting homes. Do not show open affection. Do not show undue attention to women. The list goes on, but don't be paranoid, just respectful. 
  • Read up on the cultures of each region and ask permission when in doubt. 

HOW TO SURVIVE BRUTAL DICTATORSHIPS 

Ever want to see Killing Fields Part 2? How about the Congo. What about watching live executions on Friday Night Live? Go to Chad or Nigeria. You haven't traveled until you've been to the world's last "It's my party and I'll rule if I want to" countries. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:
  • Do not discuss politics with anyone. Usually there are no politics to discuss anyway. Do not continue conversations started by strangers, just smile and say "No compredo." Yes, you can be paranoid in these places. 
  • Try not to talk to locals, they will be questioned later or come under suspicion. Use your guide to select charming visitors to associate with. There really isn't much to talk about in these places anyway. If people stuff letters or postcards in to your hands, do not tell your guide or mail them in-country. They will expect you to mail them once outside the country. 
  • Most autocratic countries employ or encourage spying on foreigners. Do not be surprised if you are not only followed but your tails may even argue over who gets to follow you. At least you won't be mugged or pickpocketed. 
  • On the down side, expect to have your room and your luggage searched while you are out. Remember those letters people stuffed in your hand? 
  • Telephone and mail are subject to interception and/or monitoring. Be careful what you say. Make sure your room is very secure when you are in it. 
  • Any violation of the law (imagined or real) will result in severe penalties. There is very little your consulate, lawyer or senator can do for you since you are subject to the laws (or lack of laws) of the country you are in. Stay away from drugs. 
  • If you are a journalist, activist, eco-activist or infomercial host you will be considered a threat, not only by the local government, but in many cases by your own. Contact the freedom groups listed in the back of the book to understand what the risks are. The concept of rights, fair trial, or fair treatment are slim to none. 
  • If you are truly concerned about conditions in these countries, contact the Red Cross, Amnesty International or Reporters Without Frontiers to see what you can do to help. (See our reference section in the back.) 

HOW TO SURVIVE NASTY PLACES 

Many tourists are surprised to find themselves victims of attack and extortion in "recovering" regions where tour prices are low and the crowds at the temples are slim. Be aware that banditry is a very real danger in most of Africa. Corruption (this assumes that there was a noncorrupt infrastructure to begin with) can range from ticket clerks mooching spare change to soldiers threatening to lift all of your possessions at military checkpoints.
  • Understand that bribery is normal in many countries, but do not confuse this with theft.  Bluster, Negotiate, Smile, Gift or Ignore are the watchwords here. Cheap gifts  can defuse many situations, smiling and talking gibberish can go a lot further than a "Fuck Off" and storming away. 
  • Understand that soldiers at checkpoints are often hungry, sick and impoverished. They will shoot if you don't stop. They can also work themselves into a frenzy if you piss them off. Be cool, smile and just keep talking. 
  • Meet with and discuss the situation with local embassy staff. Ask them specifically what to do if you are arrested, followed or hassled. Carry their card or at least number and address on you while in country. Ask them for names of military commanders, politicians or anybody important. Write it down. Who you know will help. A name on a piece of paper has more weight than just saying the name. 
  • Stay within well-defined tourist routes, lock all luggage and belongings in a secure place. Expect and prepare for everything you own to be stolen. 
  • Never travel in the country alone. Use a local guide to navigate check points and police. Always hire a driver recommended by someone you trust. 
  • Stay inside major cities at major hotels, eat at well-known, large restaurants. Never travel or go out late at night. Phone ahead to tell people you are coming over and call them again when you arrive home safely. 
  • Fly between cities and pre-arrange transportation from the airport to the hotel. 
  • Prepare for constant intimidation from police and military. Be firm about your innocence and try to lead them to your embassy or safe place. Find and remember to drop the name of a local bigwig if you are frog-marched at gunpoint. 
  • Remember that police will try to keep items removed during a search. So show them your wallet, watch for important papers but do not hand anything to them. If the soldier takes your passport into a bunker or building, walk with him (he will wave you back), but insist that you have important information for his superior. 
  • Keep abreast of the political and military situation. Keep in mind that kidnapping, extortion and murder are very real possibilities. 

HOW TO SURVIVE MINIBUSES 

There is a reason for the multitude of religious symbols, slogans and prayers painted on Third World buses. Once they cram their doors shut and the wobbly wheels start forward, your life is in the hands of a supreme being. If you travel via small buses, remember the following:
  • Don't travel at night. Most Third World minibuses make New York taxis seem tame. 
  • Avoid mountainous areas and/or winter conditions. Fly if necessary. 
  • Bring water and food with you, plan for the unexpected, delays and diversions. 
  • Ask whether the route goes through areas frequented by bandits or terrorist groups. You may be surprised to find out who controls the countryside. 
  • Sit near an exit or on top. At least make sure you are near an open window. Follow the DP rule: Be friends with everyone, your seat mate might be a rebel commander. 
  • There is a reason why you paid 83 to travel. You don't buy a lot of brake pads and clutches with that pocket change. 
  • Remember your rooftop luggage is prey for rummagers, slashers and thieves. Put your luggage in a standard trash bag, a canvas duffle or under everyone else's. 
  • Shirt slashers wait for you to doze off and slip out your money pouches. Put your money in your shoes if necessary. 

HOW TO SURVIVE TAXIS 

  • Choose your cab rather than let them choose you. 
  • Never get into a taxi with another passenger already inside. 
  • Do not take gypsy cabs; ask the airline people how much it should cost to go to your city and then agree upon a fare before you get in. 
  • Keep your luggage in the back seat, not in the trunk. 
  • Memorize the local words for "no," "yes," "stop here" and "how much?" 
  • Have the hotel doorman or guide negotiate cab fares in advance. 
  • It is a global law that cabbies never carry change. Ask if the driver has change before you hand him a big bill. 
  • Many cabbies will rent themselves out for flat fees. Do not be afraid to negotiate the services of a trusted cabby as guide, chauffeur and protector of baggage. 
  • Do not tell cabbies where you are going, when you are leaving or any other particulars that could be of interest to bad people. 

HOW TO SURVIVE AUTOMOBILES 

There is little to be said that hasn't been said in every driver's education class. Speed, booze, bad roads, and other drivers kill. Driving in the Third World is not safe, so if possible check out the local Hertz Rent-A-Yak.
  • Be familiar with local road warning signs and laws. 
  • Avoid driving yourself if possible. Nobody gets up in the morning and plans on having an accident. The fact that you are rubbernecking or checking maps while on the wrong side of the road dramatically increases your chances of an accident. Flying is safer than driving. 
  • Avoid driving in inclement weather conditions, night time or especially on weekends. Fog kills, rain kills, drunks kill, other tourists kill. It is estimated that after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights in rural America, three out of five drivers on the road have been drinking. That means if you are one of the sober ones, pray that the other sober driver is coming the other way. 
  • Stay off the road in high-risk countries. You may think the Italians, Portuguese and Spaniards display amazing bravado as they skid around winding mountain roads. The accident rate says they are just lousy drivers. 
  • Reduce your speed. To see the difference in impact at various speeds, try running as fast as you can into the nearest wall. Now walk slowly and do it again. See how much better that is? 
  • Wear a seat belt, rent bigger cars, drive during daylight, use freeways, carry a map and a good road guide, etc. You're not listening are you? 
  • If you can hire a driver with car, do so. Contact tour companies, embassy staff and hotel concierges. Many countries provide a driver when you rent a car, so make sure you feel comfortable with him. Try a one-day city tour first to see if the chemistry and his driving skills are to your tastes. 
  • Don't drive tired or while suffering from jet lag. Don't pull off to the side of the road to nap, don't leave possessions in plain sight, and try to park in lighted areas. I can see you're not listening, so just do whatever the hell you are going to do, but don't say I didn't warn you. 

HOW TO SURVIVE BOATS 

It is hard to provide general safety tips considering the wide range of waterborne craft travelers can take. Large cruise ships have very different safety problems when compared to pirogues. Here is a starting list.
  • Know how to swim, or at least how to float. Panic kills. 
  • Wear or have quick access to a life preserver. Don't assume that the large chest labeled "Life Preservers" actually has usable life preservers in it. Look. 
  • Do not take overcrowded boats. Charter your own or ask when the boat will be less crowded. Overcrowding and rough seas are the number one reason for sinking of small and medium sized ships. 
  • Avoid travel in rough weather, during monsoon or hurricane season. 
  • Stay off the water in areas frequented by pirates. 
  • In cold weather remember where the covered life rafts are. Understand the effects and prevention of hypothermia.   Not a big problem for Africa, but still good advice none the less.
  • On large ships pay attention to safety and lifeboat briefings and practice going from your cabin to the lifeboat station with your eyes closed. 
  • Keep a small carry-on or backpack with your money, papers and minor survival gear (water, energy bars, hat, compass and map). Make it waterproof and a potential life preserver by using one or two garbage bags as a liner. 
  • Prepare and bring items to prevent seasickness, sunburn, glare and chapped skin. 
  • Bring binoculars, books, coastal maps, pens and a journal to pass away the time. 

HOW TO SURVIVE FLYING 

Despite all the unnerving statistics, if you have a choice of transportation when traveling long distances, jump on a plane.  Yes, it is dangerous but not as dangerous as enduring the kaleidoscope of misery and misfortune that awaits you on the ground.
  • Stick to U.S.-based carriers with good safety records. 
  • Fly between major airports on nonstop flights. 
  • Avoid bad weather or flying at night. 
  • You can sit in the back if you want (the rear 10 rows are usually intact in case of ground impact but the passengers are dead) or above the wing (you may get thrown clear, seat and all) or near an exit (easier egress in case of fire or emergency landing) might be just as advisable. 
  • Avoid small charter aircraft, dirt strips and non-instrument fields. 
  • The smaller the plane the higher the risk. The poorer the country, same deal except when foreign carriers operate airplanes in Third World countries. 
  • Avoid national carriers that are not allowed to fly into the United States. 
  • Avoid military cargo flights, tagging along on combat missions, or flying over active combat or insurgence areas like Ethiopia and Zaire. 
  • Avoid older Soviet or Chinese-made aircraft or helicopters. 
  • Kroll puts out a monthly Airport and Airline Watch with enough hair-raising tales of smoke filled cabins, blown tires, near misses and hijackings to keep you glued firmly to the ground. $195 per year (703) 319-8050. 
  • After all this, remember that travel by airliner is the safest method of transportation and that your odds of surviving a plane crash are about 50 percent. 
  • If you are still terrified, remember you can buy flight insurance at 150 airports around the U.S. You can get half a million dollars of insurance for $16.65 or you can spend the same amount on four stiff drinks. We recommend the former, but usually end up doing the latter. 

HOW TO SURVIVE TRAINS 

  • Ask locals whether the train is a target for bandits (this is appropriate in  Africa where terrorists, bandits and insurgents regularly target trains). 
  • Beware of Eastern European train routes where thieves are known to ride as passengers. Sleep with the window cracked open to avoid being gassed. 
  • Stash your valuables in secret spots making it more difficult for robbers to locate your belongings. 
  • The back of the train is traditionally the safest area in the event of a collision. Unless, of course, your train is rear ended. 
  • Keep your luggage with you at all times if possible. Be nice to the conductor and he will keep an eye out for you. 
  • Trains are preferable to buses or cars when traveling through mountainous areas, deserts and jungles. 

TIPS ON SURVIVING BUSINESS TRAVEL 

  • Con artists wait at airports, banks and tourist attractions. Be affable but do not go anywhere with your charming new friend. 
  • Enterprising desk clerks will sell your room key to equally enterprising prostitutes. Go straight downstairs until she is removed. If you stay to convince her to leave, she may yell rape and then you have the local cops to pay off as well as the desk clerk and the girl. 
  • Avoid restaurants frequented by expats and tourists. Don't make reservations in your own name. Do not sit outside. 
  • Dress in business attire or carry a briefcase only when necessary. Have your driver watch your back as you enter buildings or your hotel. 
  • Make copies of important papers, separate your credit cards in case you lose your wallet, keep the numbers, expiration dates and the phone numbers to order replacements. 
  • Do not show your name, country or hotel ID on luggage or clothing. When a clerk asks for your room number write it down for him. 
  • Do not discuss plans, accommodations, finances or politics with strangers. 
  • Wear a cheap watch (or just show the band outward). If driving, wear your watch on the arm inside the car. Leave jewelry at home or in the hotel safe. 
  • Get used to sitting near emergency exits, memorize fire escape routes in the dark, locking your doors and being aware at all times. 
  • Kidnappers need prior warning, routine schedules or tip-offs to do their dirty work. Vary your schedule, change walking routes and don't be shy about changing hotel rooms or assigned cabs. 
  • Stay away from the front or back of the plane (terrorists use these areas to control the aircraft). Avoid aisle seats unless you want to volunteer for execution. 
  • Do not carry unmarked prescription drugs. 
  • Leave questionable reading material at home (i.e., Playboy, political materials, or magazines). 
  • Carry small gifts for customs, drivers and other people you meet. 
  • When you call with your plans assume someone is listening. 
  • Watch your drink being poured. 
  • Do not hang the "Make Up Room" sign on your hotel room door. Rather, use the "Do Not Disturb" sign. Keep the TV or radio on even when you leave. Contact housekeeping and tell them you don't want your room cleaned up. 

       
 
 

(Written by Deric "D" Bernier, and excerpted without permission from Fielding's Danger Finder.)