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Safety Advice While You're Away

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 1 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Safety Advice Children Kids Vehicle

From vehicle safety to muggings and floods, knowing how to protect yourself and your family is all-important when on a career break, especially in an unfamiliar country. Being forewarned is being well-armed, so follow our top tips to ensure that you and your children have the safest and smoothest career break possible. With some simple precautions, you can significantly lower your risk of becoming a victim and enjoy the best time possible.

Check Travel Advisories

This should be your first point of call, especially if you are travelling with children. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a website that gives detailed safety information and advice about countries round the world, with updates on worries such as disease, natural disasters, political unrest and kidnappings. It's an invaluable asset for the most comprehensive and up-to-date info, so read it well before you go. The FCO also helps British nationals abroad should a crisis occur, anything from an earthquake to political coup.

Protect Your Possessions - and Yourself

Out of sight, out of mind. That's the simplest rule as far as valuables are concerned. Don't flaunt what you have, and never leave important items unattended. Wear a money belt with not only cash but credit cards, visas and other important documents in it, especially in crowded areas. Carrying a padlock can be a good idea, but while they can be a deterrent, be aware that most locks can be picked.

Keep in Touch

It's important that your friends and relatives know where you are, especially if you are travelling around the world or to remote and/or dangerous locations. Agree on a weekly telephone call or email if possible. Many places in today's technologically advanced world have Internet cafes, and phone cards are available in much of the world. If you go missing, it's important that somebody notices.

A Guide for Women

Unfortunately, in today's world women need to travel with a little more care than their male counterparts. But it's fine line between staying safe while you're on a career break and staying at home. The following tips can help:

  • Be street smart. Learn about the area you will be living in and discover where the unsafe neighbourhoods are. Take the same everyday precautions you would at home.
  • Draw less attention to yourself by respecting the customs of the country you are visiting (don't wear revealing clothing in Muslim states, for example). If possible, dress like a local.
  • Leave expensive jewellery and designer clothes behind, although buying a cheap faux wedding ring can be a good idea to deter unwanted male attention. make sure it doesn't look too good!
  • If someone grabs your handbag, let them have it - it's worth a lot less than your life.
  • Everyone - but especially women - should avoid unlicensed taxis like the plague.

Practice Safe Sex

Don't let a night of passion leave you with an unwanted souvenir such as a sexually-transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy. Take an adequate supply of condoms with you, and if you suspect your children will be having sex while you're away, discuss this with them and supply condoms for them as well. Don't assume that your child's development will be suspended while you're away, or that ignoring their sexual activities will make everything all right. It won't. Most STI's can be treated easily, so if you think you caught something, visit a local clinic or advice and treatment.

Top Tips for Vehicle Safety Abroad

  • Ensure your vehicle is up to proper standards and has the equivalent of a British MoT. If you decide to hire a car, only do so from a reputable company - hopefully an internationally recognised one - with an excellent safety track record.
  • Carry a travel emergency medical kit with you in the car at all times.
  • Follow the rules and regulations of the host country. This means not only observing their speed limits and traffic laws, but also having the right headlights etc.
  • Make sure your kids travel only in car seats/booster seats that are in excellent condition and meet the requirements of your host country.
  • In areas where car-jackings are not uncommon, don't drive anything flashy. Use a vehicle that is appropriate for your needs, but choose one that is safe in all respects.

A lot of staying safe during a career break is about common sense. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings, trust your gut instinct and teach your children to trust theirs. Don't travel anywhere without letting another individual know where you'll be, and don't be afraid to stay behind if the situation doesn't look right. If you play it safe, you can help to guarantee your own personal security and the security of those around you.

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