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Safety Travel Tips to Foreign Lands

Travel Tips to Foreign Lands – Safety

My guest today is the real deal. We met at Killer Nashville. The very first panel I attended, Jason gave some great pointers on today’s law enforcement and how the climate has changed. Over the next few days we got to visit. I think you’ll be like me, and be very impressed. Now let’s enjoy the tips he will share for the next time you take that dream trip.

My name is Jason Fort, and I am a police officer who serves as a training officer by day; an author of thriller novels by night. I have been everything from a personal trainer, to bouncer, to police officer, and I have seen my fair share of violence. I have also been overseas twice in my lifetime, and I like it at home just fine. BUT – I also do extensive research for both my blog and novels that I write, and those writings always include something about self-defense, foreign countries and beliefs, or just plain safety advice. I thought I would provide some safe travel tips for Tierney’s page.  

Research before you go!

Most people who know me would probably assume I would place situational awareness ahead of everything else. But when traveling, I think the most pro-active approach to your having a safe trip is knowing exactly where you are going. Even if you are saving money by using something like Airbnb.com, please look ahead to the area in which you are staying.

  • Find out what is in the immediate vicinity. How close is the nearest police station?
  • What types of police operate in the region? Are they ‘bobbies’ like police in London, who are armed with flashlights and night sticks?
  • How prevalent is crime in the area? Is there known gang activity close to where you will be staying? Is there a reputation of any place nearby for people vanishing or being kidnapped?
  • Is the country you are visiting well known for terrorist activity? If it is a foreign country, what culturally specific information is useful? If you are a woman, what is the surrounding culture’s view on women? Are they respectful to women? Do you simply need to dress appropriate to the culture to avoid angering the wrong type of person in that culture? This is all very good stuff to know.


If you are typically oblivious to your surroundings, please consider going with someone you trust who is NOT. Situational awareness could save your life. Keep your head up when you walk. Be respectful to others when you walk with them, but always pay attention to what is going on around you.

  • How many people are around? Who has recently entered the area? Who doesn’t belong?
  • Is there anything hard but handy nearby that I could use as a weapon?
  • If a bomb were to go off, or gunshots were to ring out, is there something hard and thick to hide behind or inside?
  • How is the lighting in the area I need to walk? Is there a safer way than the shortest or quickest path?
  • Not only do I want to have good situational awareness, but also be mindful of SPATIAL awareness. How close do you normally let people get to you? Strangers, specifically. Typically, if you don’t know someone, or their motives, always casually keep yourself more than a step away. If that person you encounter were to try to reach and snatch a necklace off your neck, would they have to take a step towards you to do it? I hope so – always give yourself a REACTIONARY GAP. Better safe than sorry.


Don’t Travel Alone if it is your FIRST TIME.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have never been to the country in which you are visiting, you must be smart about who you trust. And if you have someone with you who has been there before, they can keep you out of trouble and help you know who to trust. This is not paranoid; this is just good sense. If you are a stranger in a strange land, people can probably pick you out a mile away. And the kind of people who may want to take advantage of the uninformed will have an easy time of picking you out in the crowds.

  • A predator in the wild doesn’t try to go for the toughest challenges; they try for the more vulnerable targets, or they take what they can get.
  • The same goes for people. Don’t appear vulnerable. This can also go back to #1 about doing your research. Know where you are going.
  • But don’t travel alone, especially in cultures where women are treated as secondary citizens. If they are a country all about machismo, never be out walking alone.
  • Travel in groups or at least with a buddy. It is way easier for two attackers to attack a single person, and also more likely.


Self-Defense: 101

Soldier portrait

Here are some pointers on self-defense, IF you don’t seek your own classes and practice before you go:

  • DON’T SHOW FEAR – this is not the same as telling you not to be afraid. You won’t have control of that in the heat of the moment. But tell yourself to FACE the fear, or the threat. Appear confident, and don’t embolden an attacker.
  • YOUR VOICE IS A WEAPON – USE IT! Don’t just use a shrill voice and scream for help; use a sharp, direct, and LOUD, focused COMMANDING voice, all in accordance to the urgency of the threat. Sharp, loud commands like, “STOP! NO! GET BACK!” Concrete; short; to the point. You’d be surprised at the number of people who might back down when you yell at them like you mean business.
  • Use violence of action. The quicker and more sudden your defensive maneuver actually becomes an offensive move, the more effective the move is. If you block or duck a punch in your direction, don’t hesitate; use a quick, hard, decisive counter punch to a soft tissue (eyes, nose, ears) or sensitive area of the face or neck, or a hard, decisive kick to the groin, knees, inner thigh, or shins.
  • GO where the people are. Don’t stay there and fight someone if your sudden move against them in self-defense stuns them – get the heck away from them and GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. Police people? Even better – but go where you know there are people who can see you; attackers thrive in the shadows, not in the light.


I know these tips will seem overboard to some people of a more passive nature, but I guarantee you, if those same people face an attack and throw tips like this under the rug – when the time comes to know what to do, they will more than likely be hapless victims. Just my two cents. God bless – Jason



4 Responses

  1. Good advice Jason, in any location you might be traveling, even the grocery store, in today’s world. By being aware of what was going on, my sister-in-law got out of an area with a shooter a few years ago. One person was killed there. Tierney thanks for finding interesting and informative people to share with us.

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