Monday, June 8, 2009

Tourists Evacuated During Acapulco Shootout

The drug cartel violence is now affecting major Mexican tourist areas like Acapulco. Read how tourists had to be evacuated during a shootout between Mexican soldiers and drug cartel outlaws.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

UK Driving Risky for Foreigners

Driving on the left-hand side of the road presents serious problems for foreigners visiting and living in the UK.

In the Protection Security Operator Course (PSOC), I often cite that one of the top killers of traveling executives -- after medical emergencies -- is motor vehicle accidents (including being hit by a car). It's incredible how accustomed we are to our own custom of driving in the left-hand side of the car on the right side of the road. Changing to driving on the right side of the car (shifting with your left hand) and on the left side of the road is a constant challenge.
Personally, I enjoy driving in the UK and Ireland, but I will say from experience that old habits are hard to break.

And this is born out by recent statistics from research done by London Councils:
  • Foreign vehicles are 30 per cent likelier to be in a crash than a British-registered vehicle, according to research by London Councils.
  • The number of crashes caused by foreign vehicles increased by 47 per cent between 2002 and 2007.
  • There were almost 400 deaths and serious injuries and 3,000 slight injuries from accidents involving foreign vehicles in 2007.

It's easy to extrapolate similar results for visiting drivers. Stay alert if you are planning to self-drive on your next trip to the UK or Ireland.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pound 25% Cheaper Against Dollar

With the British Pound about 25% cheaper against the U.S. Dollar than just a few months ago, you might want to consider the UK as a destination again.

Check here for a good site on getting good deals in the UK.

Tips for Safe Travel in Ireland

Bernd Beige the blogger on Ireland travel offers these tips for travelers to the Emerald Isle:

Safe Travel in Ireland
Some Hints on Possible and Perceived Dangers
By Bernd Biege,

Travelling in Ireland is not dangerous as such - millions of tourists visit the country every year without coming to harm whatsoever. Still it is a wise precaution to be a safety-conscious traveller. Here are some hints to make your stay as safe as possible. But always keep one thing in mind: Ireland is a safe country and crime targeting tourists is rare.

Pickpockets and Bagsnatchers
The greatest danger looms from opportunistic thieves who use bustling crowds as a cover to pick your pockets or simply snatch your bag. Just take the usual precautions to wear your valuables as close and as unaccessible as possible (and sensible) to your body. If you are carrying a bag with a strap wear the strap across your body. And if you place your bag under the table in a restaurant or café simply fasten the strap to a chair or your leg. And never leave your valuables unattended, not even in the hotel or in the car.

More drastic criminals will stop you in the street and demand money and/or valuables. The best precaution here is to avoid lonely streets out of hours, even if it means a detour or a taxi ride. And not to show your wealth too much (even though it might be argued that anybody is considered wealthy by the disenfranchised). If you are, however, faced with a robbery the best reaction is to comply with demands unless you can safely call attention to your plight. Fighting back is definitely not recommended as violent crime may well arise out of this.

Violent Crime
The good news: Gun crime is relatively rare in Ireland and mostly related to gang or family feuds. The bad news: Resistance to robberies and any reaction to verbal insults can quickly lead to violent behavior. Weapons of choice are fists, boots and (in an alarming quantity) knives. Try to avoid any confrontation and back off any person who seems aggravated. Try to stay calm, cool and collected and do not offer resistance. And again try to avoid being an obvious target - a lonely stranger in a deserted area, especially at night.

Sexual assault and rape are a problem especially in the larger towns and cities and normal precautions should be taken - avoiding deserted areas at night being high on the list. You might also want to check our section on safety tips for women traveling in Ireland1.

Homophobic and Racist Hate Crime
Virtually unknown in rural areas and on the rise in cities and towns, homophobic crimes are commonly known as "gay bashing" and tend to happen spontaneously in the vicinity of known (or suspected) gay hangouts. Again normal precautions should be taken. Racist hate crimes are mostly confined to larger urban areas and can be spontaneous or planned. Most victims are non-Caucasian and again usual precautions should be considered.

Terrorist Activity
Since the late 1990s the threat of terrorism by republican or loyalist paramilitaries has severely declined, though some republican dissidents tend to undermine the peace process. International terrorism has so far ignored Ireland - but the involvement of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the use of Irish airports by US military flights means that a certain risk remains. On the other hand Irish authorities are historically well prepared for any terrorist incidents and effective prevention measures are permanently in place.

Car-Related Crime
"Smash and grab" attacks on tourist vehicles are a definite risk at all attractions and possible anywhere. Most of these are crimes of opportunity. The best prevention is simply not to leave any bags or valuables in plain sight - lock them into the trunk, even when only leaving the car for a few minutes. Car theft and vandalism happen mostly when vehicles are parked conveniently. Prevention should start with using off-street supervised parking and securely locking cars at any time.

A new phenomenon in Ireland and still very rare. Locking your car doors when driving in urban areas is advised as a precaution.

Obviously tents are not safe - do never leave valuables in them when you are away, not even at a regular camping site. Bear in mind that camping without the landowner's explicit permission is illegal and might lead to high fines.

Credit Card Fraud
Unfortunately credit card fraud is on the rise in Ireland2, it pays to keep the PIN well safe and to keep the card within eyesight when paying. Also beware of suspicious activity at and around ATMs, this might indicate "skimming" of blatant theft.

While some attempts at blatant overcharging (even by local authorities) may be classified as "scams", real scams targeting tourists are relatively rare. As always the advice caveat emptor applies - if you are for instance offered a local lottery ticket in the pub, how likely will it be that you actually can claim your price?

In an Emergency ...
... contact the authorities at once. Also get in touch with the tourist support services offered by the embassies. Your first point of contact should be the Gardai or the PSNI, both can be reached from any phone by dialing 112 or 999. I have also put together a comprehensive list of Irish emergency phone numbers3 you might want to print out.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Auto Accidents Your Most Dangerous Threat Abroad

While there seems to be a heightened sense that Westerners are especially exposed to terrorism traveling these days, the fact is the biggest killer of Americans while traveling is the automobile accident.

According to the State Department automobile accidents caused the biggest number of non-natural, non-combat deaths of Americans abroad, accounting for nearly a third of the more than 2,000 cases reported to the State Department between 2004 and 2006.

Especially dangerous places to drive include Qatar, Tunisia, and Egypt. Although I've personnally witnessed Americans having particular problems driving and walking amongst unfamiliar traffic patterns in the U.K. and Ireland.

After traffic accidents the next leading causes of U.S. civilian deaths are assaults, suicides and drownings.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Annual AAA Parents Best Cars for Families List

The AAA and Parents magazine Best Cars for Families list for 2007 includes 15-vehicles:

  • Honda Accord
  • Mercury Milan
  • Toyota Camry
  • Dodge Caliber
  • Ford Edge
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Chevy Tahoe
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Hyundai Entourage
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Honda Civic
  • Mazda 3
  • Volkswagen Rabbit