How to Keep a Low Profile Abroad, According to an Ex-CIA Officer

On guidebooks, device security and how to handle emergencies

October 18, 2018 9:00 am

“In long-range planning for a trip, I think there is a private conviction that it won’t happen.” That’s Mr. John Steinbeck musing on preparations mental and logistical before taking off on a cross-country tour with his French poodle Charley.

And he’s right: travel is a hard-to-believe deviation from your weekly routine. It’s so exciting and sexy, in fact, that it can be easy to ship off without accounting for all the uncertainties and challenges your destination will undoubtedly present. But preparation is no enemy of discovery. Luckily, ex-CIA officer Cindy Otis recently offered some tips to the Daily Beast for staying safe and efficient while doing your best Indiana Jones impersonation. 

A laundry list of ways to fold a suit into your checked baggage, this is not. Specifically, Otis focuses on necessary precautions for avoiding trouble while in a foreign country. We’ve included some of her top tips below.

Buy Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands
Especially relevant for folks in the business world, this book examines expected modes of daily decorum across countries all over the globe. Smart way to avoid the accidental flip-off. 

Don’t hop on free wi-fi, if you can help it
… Since hackers often hound public wi-fi hotspots to get all up in your business.

Leave the baseball cap at home
While some countries sport baseball caps, it’s usually as a serious fashion statement. Since ours are often A) frayed and salty from yardwork, running or fishing, or B) blatantly touting an American ballclub, you could be drawing unwanted attention to yourself.

Register for Medjet
In the case of a medical emergency, you can’t always trust the local hospital. Medjet is a medical transport and travel safety membership program. For short-term coverage ($99) or annual protection $270, Medjet will zip you and your injury to the hospital of your choice. 

Keep your blinds drawn at the hotel, and book “high”
Your next trip might not turn into The Bourne Vacation, but thiefs and kidnappers do exist. Try to avoid rooms near ground level, and make sure people can’t see in to your room at any time of day.

h/t Daily Beast
Image via IMDB

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.