A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO SAFE TRAVEL IN EUROPE
Traveling to another country as a woman, whether alone or with others, can be risky. If she stands out from the crowd, a female traveler can be attacked or robbed. In some instances, the country a woman decides to travel to might be going through a period of internal strife, making the atmosphere unsafe for foreigners. Before traveling to Europe, a woman should take the time to educate herself. Learning about the culture of the country will help her blend in better. Understanding the basics of travel safety will help her avoid being a victim.
While men and women are treated more or less equally in many countries around the world, there are some countries where gender differences remain stark. Before traveling, it is helpful to research the attitude towards women or the attitude about gender in the specific country. For example, in some countries, it might not be appropriate for a woman to approach a man to ask questions. Understanding how American women are perceived in that country is also useful. It is also helpful to learn about the incidences of sexual harassment and assault that take place in that country.
Gender Abroad - Northwestern University - A resource from Northwestern University for female students planning on studying abroad. The site discusses the importance of understanding the ways the country a woman is visiting differs from her home country.
Culture Shock - Orientation module from Gustavus Adolphus College on adapting to a different culture.
When traveling to Europe, whether alone, with a partner, or in a group, a woman should try to blend in and avoid looking like a tourist. It's better to dress in a conservative fashion than to dress in a fashion-forward, attention-grabbing manner. To avoid losing items or having them stolen, a woman should pack as lightly as possible. When out and about, a crossbody or shoulder bag is the best option. It's more difficult for a bag that is draped over the shoulder to be grabbed or torn away from a woman.
It's important that a woman tell someone where she is headed. Before she leaves the US, she can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program from the US Department of State. The program keeps travelers up-to-date on any new warnings or precautions. She should also tell a friend or family member of her travel plans and leave a copy of her passport and travel itinerary with that person. If a woman is traveling alone, it is helpful to leave a note with the hotel explaining where she is going at the beginning of each day.
Usually, it is safer to travel around town during the day. If a woman does go out during the evening or night, she should arrange for reliable transportation to get her to and from the hotel. It's recommended that women travelers stay in well-lit, well-populated areas to avoid being a target. If a woman is traveling with a group, she should find a "travel buddy." When the group is out the travel buddies are each responsible for looking after the other.
Even if a woman takes every precaution, she can still become a victim of crime when traveling in Europe. In the event of a crime, a woman traveler should contact the embassy of her home country as well as the local police. The embassy can't investigate the crime or handle any legal proceedings. What it can do is make sure a traveler gets any medical assistance she needs, contact her family, and replace her passport if necessary. If a woman isn't able to go to the local police immediately, she should write down exactly what happened so that she doesn't forget or leave out any details.
Travel Warnings - A list of the countries with travel warnings, from the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security
WINTER DRIVING TIPS
Driving tips for the inclement climates.
By TCC TEAM
For many drivers, navigating on snow and ice is cause for alarm. Few are educated and practiced in how to drive in heavy rain or on slippery surfaces. And, much confusion prevails. So when the weather turns foul, remember these driving tips to steer clear of trouble:
Adjust your speed to current conditions:
When driving in challenging conditions, slow down. Decreasing your speed will allow more time to respond when a difficult situation arises. Factors such as the type of vehicle you are driving, the quality of snow tires your car is equipped with, and your abilities as a driver should all be considered in the speed adjustment.
Anticipate difficult situations:
Studies have shown that 80 percent of all accidents could be prevented with only 1 more second to react. In many situations, this second can be gained by looking far enough down the road to identify problems before you become a part of them.
Use grip effectively:
When roads are slippery, use all of the grip available for one thing at a time. Brake only before the curve when the car is traveling straight. Taking your foot off the brake before you steer into the curve allows you to use all of the grip available for steering. Don't accelerate until you begin to straighten the steering wheel when exiting the turn. This technique will allow you to be 100-percent effective at each maneuver.
Maintain a comfortable driving environment:
A constant flow of cool air will help to keep you alert, and keep the windows clear of frost. Keeping one window slightly open will allow you to hear sirens and other warning sounds more quickly. Avoid large bulky boots, gloves, and coats, and never drive in ski boots.
Wipers on, lights on:
Whenever daytime visibility is less than ideal, turning on your lights allows you to see, and to be seen by others. Remember this rule of thumb: wipers on, lights on. When traveling in snowy weather, remember to clear tail lights, signal lights, and headlamps regularly.
Use snow and ice tires:
Be aware that an all-season tire is a compromise, and will not perform as well as a snow and ice tire. To maximize safety and control, use the best snow and ice tires available.
The capability of four-wheel-drive vehicles is greater than other vehicles, but not limitless. Many drivers mistakenly believe that four-wheel drive is all powerful. Every type of vehicle depends on four small contact patches where the tire meets the road for traction. This small contact area is the limiting factor of any vehicle on a slippery surface. Four-wheel drive does not improve braking or comering effectiveness.
Anti-lock brakes can't perform miracles:
Don't be misled by anti-lock braking systems. Braking efficiency is limited by the grip available, and the type of tires with which your car is equipped. If you carry to much speed into a corner and then try to brake, even anti-lock brakes won't keep you on the road. Never count on technology to replace good judgment.
Go with lows:
Leave your headlamps on low beam when driving in snow or fog. This practice minimizes the reflection and glare, improves visibility, and reduces eye fatigue. When oncoming cars approach, focus on the right side of the roadway to help maintain good night vision.
Wear quality sunglasses:
Good quality sunglasses help highlight changes in the terrain and road surface even in low visibility conditions.
Many people believe that quick reactions make a good driver. The world's best drivers are trained to anticipate problems early and direct the vehicle appropriately before they become involved in a problem. Reacting too quickly can be dangerous if the driver's response is inappropriate.
Gain speed and momentum on the flat before starting uphill. When the car begins to slow down going up the hill, ease up on the accelerator, allow the car to slow down and crest the hill slowly. If you try and accelerate too hard and spin the wheels, you may lose momentum and not make the top. It's better to make the top at a slower speed than to not make it at all.
What To Do If You Lose Your Purse Or Wallet:
This has become an increasing problem. Reading this does you NO good.
Writing the info down, and keeping it near your telephone is the ONLY protection.
It's not important until it happens to you. These SIMPLE procedures can save you BIG...
Good Advice to protect your identity and prevent fraud
The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address, if you do not have a PO Box use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks -- you can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, SS#, credit, etc. Unfortunately I (someone else) have first hand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen last month and within a week the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know. As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know who to call. Keep those where you can find them easily (having to hunt for them is additional stress you WON'T need at that point!).
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important: Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#.
I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
By the time I was advised to do this - almost 2 weeks after the theft all the damage had been done (there are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert).
Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them in their tracks.
The Numbers Are:
Equifax: 1-800 525-6285
Experian: (formerly TRW) 1-888-397-3742 or 1-800-301-7195
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289 or 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269- 0271
"Walkabout Travel Gear" has a Web Page devoted to making your travels both safer, and more enjoyable. Tips range from the obvious, to things that make you go, hmmm, I never thought about that!
The site provides a dandy service to folks, and the page consists of tips submitted by people who know...Travelers!
Frozen Car Door Locks
Use a cardboard tube (or roll up a piece of paper), and blow directly onto the door's lock through the tube. This procedure will thaw the locks...Of course, this procedure might get you a few stares, too!
How to Negotiate - Info From...Esquire Magazine
Lieutenant Michael Albanese, officer in charge of the LAPD SWAT team and cadre leader of crisis negotiation, knows a thing or two about talking to people. After all, his average day includes saying things like "How about releasing the children and senior citizens?" This may differ from your attempts to renegotiate a late fee at Blockbuster or ask the boss for a raise, but the fundamentals are the same. (Albanese says so, and we're not about to contradict him.) Just leave the Kevlar and battering ram at home.
Keep it informal. "I never get on the negotiating phone and say, 'This is Lieutenant Michael Albanese, special agent in charge of LAPD SWAT, cadre leader, do you have hostages?' and all that. Instead, it's just, 'I'm Mike from the LAPD. Is this Jim? What's going on inside there?' "
Speak at Steven Wright's speed. "If the other person is increasingly anxious, don't try to keep up with his or her fast pace and heightened delivery. Keep your voice monotone and flat, but still be reflective and caring."
Ask open-ended questions. "Try to get more than just yes or no answers. I don't say, 'Will you come out?' I say, 'Tell me why you don't feel comfortable coming out.' "
Repeat after them. "A main part of negotiating is being able to capture the other person's thoughts and mirroring their words back to them so they know you're listening."
No doesn't mean no. "Don't accept a no answer. If they give a firm no, I say, 'I can understand it, but maybe in a while, when you're ready to, you'll come out.' "
If you really want to say it, don't. "You can be sure that if right before you say something you're thinking about how good it'll feel, then two minutes later you'll be saying, 'Why did I open my mouth?' Avoid zingers. If you return a product, don't say, 'It's broken. Typical, huh?' Say, 'I understand you're having some problems with this particular model.' "
How to Disarm a Gunman
Info From...Esquire Magazine
(Consider the context of statement. and article)
Happiness is a warm gun, as long as the hand
that's making it warm is your own.
By Jack Maple, former NYPD deputy commissioner
First thing: If you think it's about the money, give up the money. If you think this guy wants to kill you no matter how much money you give him, then you have to fight. Good indicator: If he wants to move you from one place to another--like, "Get in the car" or "Come down this alley"--your chances are a lot worse. Surrender is no guarantee of survival. I've been to the scene of too many murders where hope sprung eternal, even when the duct tape came out. Statistics show that 75 percent of the time, resistance to robbery is helpful, but that's out of the source book--that's not real life. In real life, you have to make the decision of whether to fight or not, and you have to make it then and there.
If you have to fight, know one thing: Action is twice as fast as reaction. In the police academy, you're taught to take cover and tell the guy to drop his gun. That's wrong. You grab the gun. You grab a guy by the gun, it's just like grabbing a guy by the balls: There will be a split second of confusion. But let's say he has a gun to your head and you grab his hand or knock it away--you're still fighting a guy with a loaded gun. So you have to change that. You either have to get the gun out of his hand or disable the gun; you have to work on the gun no matter what kind of beating you're taking. Even if this guy is biting your ear off, all your energy has to be focused on taking that gun or rendering it inoperable by hitting the button that releases the clip or by uncocking it or by hitting the safety. It helps to know guns.
When I was a rookie cop in Transit, I had the experience of having my gun taken from me, and I had the experience of taking it back. A drug dealer took my gun from me. He shot at me a couple of times--I had powder burns on my face--but he missed, and I got the gun back. I shot him twice in the chest. Then he beat me up. That's the way it goes in these things: He beat me up, but I had the gun, so I won. He died. I got a beating, but I'm still here.
ATM Safety: MINIMIZE YOUR RISK
(Info From ... Bank One Banking Services)
Protect Yourself ...
* Avoid isolated ATMs. Use ATMs in busy areas if possible.
* Be ready. Have your transactions, deposits envelope and card ready before you reach the ATM. Take extra envelopes before you leave the ATM for future transactions.
* Look around. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not use an ATM if lights are not working, or you notice anything or anyone suspicious nearby: If you've begun your transaction, use the cancel feature. After dark, consider bringing a friend along.
* Report suspicious activity immediately. Contact the local police or a security officer if you witness any suspicious activity at the ATM. If you suspect you're being followed from an ATM, hurry to a busy area and immediately contact the police.
* Guard yourself at the drive-up ATM. Don't allow yourself to be blocked in. Make sure the car in front of you has pulled away completely before approaching the ATM. Keep your doors locked and windows closed except to perform your transaction.
* Secure your car. If you must leave your car to use an ATM, never leave your car running, the doors open or the keys inside.
* Don't display cash. Pocket your cash, your card and your receipt immediately after an ATM transaction. Count your cash only when you are certain you are in a secure area.
Protect your Card ...
* Protect your PIN. Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Never keep your PIN where it can easily be discovered, such as written on your card, in your wallet or in your purse. Stand between the ATM and anyone waiting, so nobody can see the buttons you push.
* Never give your PIN to anyone. Don't let others use your card. Never give out your PIN or card information over the phone.
* Keep your card in a safe place. Protect your card the same way you would protect cash or a credit card.
* Take your receipt. Your receipt can contain confidential information. If you don't need the receipt, destroy it at home.
* Cancel if necessary. If you suspect the ATM is not processing your transaction properly, use the cancel feature on the ATM and find another machine.
* Report a lost or stolen card immediately. The sooner you notify your bank that your card is in danger of being misused, the sooner your bank can take precautions to ensure that it is not misused.
-By observing these safety tips, you can minimize your risks while enjoying the convenience of 24-hour ATM banking.