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Talking about safe travel is something I take to heart. Here, I will be discussing five real situations my friends and I have personally been in and offering mobile app solutions for risk reduction tailored to each scenario.
Technology is a beautiful thing, let’s use it to our advantage.
1. Situation: You’ve been the victim of a crime; your passport and credit cards were stolen; the local authorities make you uncomfortable; there’s an attack, natural disaster, etc.
Use “Find Your Embassy” from the Department of State to find the nearest U.S. embassy anywhere in the world. The m.usembassy.gov site gives maps and contact information. Travel alerts and warnings are also available.
2. Situation: While overseas, someone in your group has an allergic reaction, asthma attack, etc. and is in need of a hospital or pharmacy. However, there is a language barrier that prevents asking anyone in your proximity for help.
TripLingo provides a series of emergency phrases. Practice the phrases with games and quizzes, connect to a voice translator, or connect to a real life translator. The app comes with a bonus wi-fi dialer and tip calculator so your waiter doesn’t shank you for being cheap.
3. Situation: It’s late, you lost your kids (or rather your kids lost their parents); you lost your friends; you lost your travel partner. A person on your trip is lost and can’t remember where you are staying, not to mention the pronunciation of your hotel or hostel.
Keep a hotel/hostel business card as backup in case your phone dies.
4. Situation: What’s 911 for Prague?!
!Emergency! app will provide the important numbers of the country you are in, and automatically dials the correct number should you need it.
5. Situation: You’re walking into a neighborhood just across from the “safe” area you are staying in to catch a picture of the sunset. Turns out, this neighborhood is flagged by locals as a high-crime area of drugs, prostitution, etc. (but your hotel receptionist failed to mention this). You get attacked in broad daylight (WITH someone) for an attempted mugging. Why didn’t someone just mention: “don’t cross the major highway?”
Safety Map Worldwide lets you find the level of public safety of any place on earth. You can read comments and rating of others for a five scale danger to safe rating. You’ll also get helpful notifications if you find yourself in a danger zone.
I’ve actually been or been with someone in every single one of the situations mentioned above, the last being the most recent in Istanbul. We’re at risk for danger whether we are in a familiar neighborhood or abroad — unfortunately, external factors are beyond our own control. However, some situations (like forgetting where you are staying) can be prevented.
Take advantage of your pretty new phone and download some apps for safe travel.