With world crises making headlines more often than usual,it’s more important than ever for crew to be cautious when traveling the globe.In fact, Katie Stewart of Regency Travel claims that with an increase ofsecurity and health warnings, she’s seen several yachts reposition away fromareas in order to keep their charter business successful. But that’s not to sayyou should live in fear — from avoiding hot spots to being extra cautious whenembarking on adventures, we’ve rounded up some tips and warnings to bear inmind.
Travel, Health Alertsand Warnings
Stewart points out that travel alerts and advisoriesnaturally are usually issued after an “event,” such as an act of terrorism (thinkthe Brussels bombing) or a natural disaster (think an earthquake or tsunami).
“At the moment, there are warnings to many places that weall know are unsafe, and then some blanket warnings for Turkey and Europe ingeneral, basically urging vigilance using public transport, awareness ofsurroundings, caution during holidays, and festivals,” she says. To stayapprised on issued travel alerts and warnings, bookmark these links:
South Pacific crew: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx
“In my twenty-five years of doing travel for yacht crew, Ihave to say that they tend not to heed government-issued travel warnings,” addsStewart (you know who you are!). While being footloose and carefree may bringyou to exotic destinations and fun pursuits, keep in mind that several traveland health insurance companies won’t cover you if the travel is to a country ona government warning list.
That said, crew should also keep health warnings in mind. “Withthe Zika virus spreading through the Caribbean and South/Central America, itdoes limit [health insurance] coverage,” says Stewart.
You can stay up to date on health warnings at http://www.who.int/en/ and get moreinformation on travel-related health risks, from necessary vaccines to generalprecautions, at http://www.who.int/ith/precautions/en/.
If you’re traveling as part of your own adventure and notwith the yacht, arrive at the airport even earlier than normal and get preparedfor security — lots and lots of it.
“Security is definitely way tighter than it has been;security and immigration at airports takes longer, but this is to be expected,”Stewart warns.
And once you’re off the plane, be smart when it comes toyour choice of ride to your next destination. Chris Podolsky of ISS GMTstrongly emphasizes against taking a gypsy cab or transportation not authorizedby the local airport authority.
“This is particularly important in high-risk countries,” hesays. “Getting into an unlicensed car is a recipe for kidnapping or mugging.”
Podolsky also advises checking in occasionally with someonewho knows where and when you’re traveling and to not drop off the gridunexpectedly, as you may run into trouble and not be able to reach out forhelp.
If you’re staying at a hotel, do you know the optimal flooryou should be on? Did you even know there’s a preferred floor? According to Podolsky,always request a room between the third and sixth floors.
“You should avoid the second floor as this is the flooroften targeted by thieves and muggers as they can easily use a stairwell tomake a quick getaway. Likewise, avoid a room adjacent to the stairwell for thesame reason,” says Podolsky. “Why above the sixth floor? In the U.S. and inmost developed countries, firefighter ladders won’t reach beyond the sixthfloor. If you’re trapped due to a fire, you may be out of luck.”
Podolsky also advises bringing two door alarms with you(they’re small and inexpensive, under $15). They activate when a door is openedfrom the exterior; place one on both your entryway door and adjoining door toyour room.
“Most of the trouble we hear about with crew travel isstolen passports/wallets/phones/bags, etc. either due to being pick-pocketed,mugged, carelessness, or intoxication,” says Stewart, adding that crew shouldkeep bags close or attached to them at all times and never turn their backs ontheir belongings. “Common sense is the best guide.”
On that note, you should take a photo of your passport, saveit to your phone and computer, andemail a copy to someone at home. If you lose your passport, this will make iteasier to replace, says Podolsky.
Crew should also be very cognizant of surrounding culturesand customs — including their own.
Podolsky is very adamant about not advertising yournationality. “For example, don’t wear an All Blacks baseball cap or carry abackpack with the Union Jack on it,” he says. “There are groups in the worldwho may target specific nationalities for religious or political reasons.”
And remember: you’re also subject to the laws of your hostcountry. “What is legal in one country may land you in serious trouble inanother,” says Podolsky. “For instance, while cannabis has been decriminalizedin many countries, in Thailand you may be imprisoned for years for a smallamount. Likewise, chewing gum is illegal in Singapore.”
As Podolsky puts it, whether it’s for business or pleasure,any traveler should accept they bear the primary responsibility for theirsafety.