Traveling internationally always comes with some level of risk and one of these risks is falling prey to human traffickers. Whether you work as a flight crewmember on international flights or are planning a personal vacation abroad, there are six preventative tips you can take to increase your safety and security.
Tip #1: Register with the local U.S. Embassy and Enroll in the Smart Traveler Program (STEP)
In each country you are visiting, provide the local U.S. embassy with a copy of your travel itinerary. You should also always keep the embassy’s contact information with you, should you find yourself in an unsafe environment.
By enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), you can share your travel plans with the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to your host city. STEP comes with several benefits that include evacuation assistance, emergency services, passport recovery, country-specific travel advisories and emergency notices if something occurs back home.
Tip #2: Be wary of helpful strangers
While some strangers are harmless, there are others who are looking for ways to take advantage of you. Traffickers are always on the lookout for someone who appears lost and on their own. Therefore, it is best to avoid asking a stranger for assistance in finding a location or service. Instead, find a reliable resource, such as hotel staff or the nearest U.S. embassy. Never give a stranger information concerning your travel plans or where you are staying.
Tip #3: Stay vigilant
Traffickers can be anywhere so it’s important to maintain your vigilance from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Follow hotel safety guidelines in asking the desk agent to hand you your room key or card instead of saying the room number aloud. Make sure the hotel is in a safe area and has sufficient security features. If using ride shares or taxis, verify the make/model of the vehicle and the driver’s identity before you get in. Watch the person preparing your drink and then keep your glass always covered and under your surveillance. Above all, trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t quite right, remove yourself from the situation or environment as soon as possible.
Tip #4: Assign an itinerary buddy
Ask a trusted family or friend to be your itinerary buddy. Provide them with printed pages of your travel plans, including:
- Air carrier
- Departure city and arrival city times
- Hotel information
- Embassy contact information
- All exploration stops
- Confirm they have the correct government departments and agencies to contact if they lose touch with you. Also, keep your itinerary buddy as virtually involved in your travel as possible. Make regular phone calls when you reach each new destination or send a quick text message to say you’re safe in your hotel for the night, so if called upon, they can report your last known whereabouts.
Tip #5: Know your numbers
For each location you are visiting, research the numbers to call in the event of an emergency. Store these numbers on your mobile device and memorize them, if you can, before your arrival. The more options you have, the quicker you will be able to obtain assistance if you need it.
Tip #6: Educate yourself on human trafficking
The key in protecting yourself from becoming a human trafficking victim is through education. Take advantage of aviation employee training, webinars, documentaries and other public resources. These materials provide valuable information on the methods traffickers use to lure and ensnare victims, as well as how to identify possible trafficking activity around you.
For more information, visit the following resources:
The STEP Program: https://step.state.gov/
U.S. Department of State: Human Trafficking - United States Department of State
Locate a U.S. Embassy: https://www.usembassy.gov/
National Human Trafficking Hotline: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/faqs/safety-planning-information
Polaris Project: https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/