Seven pointers for safe travel

Courtesy of the San Jose Mercury-News, here’s 7 ways to use your smarts to stay safe during your travels:

1. Dress to blend in. Locals can spot Americans a kilometer away: We wear shorts, sneakers, U.S. flag logos, expensive jewelry. Wear clothing that blends in; leave your bling at home.

2. Empty your pockets. Never carry large sums of cash. Take just enough for taxis or small purchases while you’re out for the day. Keep money and credit cards in a money belt, not in a purse or your pocket.

3. Do some reading. Research the country you’ll be visiting. Check news sources for information about political developments or civil unrest. Learn about local laws and customs, and treat everyone with respect.

4. Watch your back. Don’t wander down an empty or poorly lighted street. Hold tightly onto your belongings in crowded areas such as train and subway stations, where pickpockets thrive.

5. Be wary of taxis. Never get into an unmarked or unlicensed taxi. If possible, use only taxis waiting in front of hotels.

6. Steer clear of trouble. Even if you want to show solidarity with a political cause, never participate in a demonstration or protest. In some countries it could get you thrown in jail.

7. Let them know you’re there. Before leaving, register your trip with the U.S. State Department at

Michael Martinez