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Even though I’ve personally traveled millions of miles and stayed in thousands of hotels in over 70 countries, I still can’t get enough travel tips. I love discovering smart new ways to travel better, faster, easier, cheaper and safer. When I saw that a former CIA officer and FBI Special Agent was offering up her travel safety tips, I was all ears. RELATED: The Most Important Thing For Travelers to Do According to a Safety Expert
Tracy Schandler Walder is National Security contributor to NewsNation (I’m a regular contributor to the network as well) and is also the author of The Unexpected Spy. She does a great job dishing out travel tips, among other things, on Instagram.
She recently posted the video below outlining her safety tips. I knew and practice most of them and you may too since I share all my tricks and tips in my free newsletter (sign up here).
Tracy says that during her time at the CIA, she traveled to more than 10 countries, including some in the middle of war zones. The 45-year-old mother also travels frequently alone for speaking engagements.
Here are some of the safety tips she uses, which she says “are very simple and help make me feel a little bit safer when I am traveling.”
1. Stay on floors three to six
Tracy says, “The safest floors are floors three to six. You don’t want to be on the ground floor. If they put you on the ground floor, ask for that to be changed. The reason I say three to six is it’s difficult for someone to climb up that. However, it is, for the most part pretty accessible if there is an emergency, like a fire.” In 2019, I wrote a similar tip covering this and why you shouldn’t stand up if you’re in a hotel room during a fire.
2. Lock the security lock
“Lock the security lock,” says Tracy. “It’s the first thing I do behind myself when I enter the room. Lock the security lock right away. And whenever you’re in the room, keep that lock locked. There’s really no reason to have it unlocked if you’re inside your room.”
3. Use a door stopper
Tracy says that once she’s in the room for the evening, she uses a door stopper. “I actually travel with a doorstop. It’s just one of those rubber doorstops that’s cheap, light and easy, it’s not going to weigh down your luggage. You can jam that into the door as well while you’re sleeping to give you sort of an added sense of security.”
4. Always watch your drink
If you decide to go to the bar and have a drink, Tracey warns to “always watch your drink, don’t leave your drink alone.” I would also add don’t ever take a drink from a stranger, and this applies to both men and women. A friend of mine foolishly accepted a bottle of water in a “gypsy Uber” and ended up waking up on the side of the road, hours later, robbed of his wallet, phone and watch.
5. Send your itinerary to loved ones
Tracy suggests, “send your itinerary to folks that are not traveling with you. I always send mine to my husband and even though I’m 45 years old, I do send it to my mom as well so that they know where I am.” This is good advice. I always do this too and have for a long time. I also copy my wife on my TripIt flight alerts so she knows if my flight is delayed or canceled.
6. Download two safety apps
Now, this is where Tracy taught me a thing or two. If you’re traveling outside of the United States, Tracy suggests downloading two apps. In her video, she refers to the U.S. State Department app as the ‘Safe Traveler’ app but I believe she means the ‘Smart Traveler’ app (iOS and Android). She says it will give you insight as to whether or not there any national security issues. The other free app she recommends is Panic Button. She says, “It’s just a button that you would push and it alerts people on your contact list that you have provided to them that there is an emergency and provide those individuals with your GPS location.” I believe the app she’s referring to is only available on Android because the Apple Store doesn’t have an exact match and the similar apps have low ratings. But if you have an Android phone, this is a good one to download.
Watch Tracy’s video below:
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