International travel is, for many, a prerequisite of a life well lived and has always carried some risks. In addition to the commonly-accepted risks of unfamiliar geography, alternate sets of laws, and language barriers, the millennium has ushered in some uniquely modern travel risks. Identity theft, and the technology that facilitates its growth, has become a global concern to all.
Thieves – whether small scale or highly organized – know that travelers are out of their regular mode of organization and away from their day-to-day routines and, therefore, may not be as diligent in close track of their possessions or paperwork.
However, travelers can take some simple precautionary measures that will go far in maintaining a pleasant and peaceful journey. Limiting the extent of information one shares with strangers about travel plans, purchasing a protective “sleeve” for your passport, and using cash whenever possible can all provide heightened security abroad.
Making photocopies of passports, credit cards, and other vital documentation prior to departure can provide backup in emergencies, as long as it is kept in a secure location from the originals. Travelers may also want to carefully consider the risks of posting an out-of-town (or off-the-continent) status on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – this information can reach beyond one’s circle of friends nearly instantaneously. There has also been some concern about the ability to scan identifying information directly from the wireless “RFID” chip embedded in newer passports; protective products are widely available to shield against this.
Working with long-established service providers with a track record of secure handling and delivery of customer documents can go far in ensuring your trip launches and lands smoothly. In the instance that a passport or an airline ticket goes missing or is lost or stolen, seasoned travel agents, tour guides, and travel documentation professionals can all provide expertise and immediate guidance on proceeding safely.
Dean Orbell of Travel Document Systems, Inc. added: “Consumers can take some simple steps to protect their critical travel documentation when overseas. We encourage our customers to treat their passports as they would any other high-value item. Should passports be lost or stolen, we can assist in replacing those upon return to the US, but to protect their identity, travelers should always contact the US Embassy or Consular office in the region of travel as soon as possible.”
Travel experts almost universally conclude that no matter the time or place, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and of those whom you do business with, continue to serve as a traveler’s top strategy for document safety.