Travel Safety Precautions

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If you are adopting internationally, there is a good chance that you will be traveling to a very poor (and possibly politically unstable) part of the world. Although most of the countries open to international adoption are safe for tourists (and adoptive parents), here are some important tips to keep in mind:

Countries With a History of War

  • Do not travel on dirt roads in any country that has been the site of skirmishes or wars within the last century. Land mines can be activated years after being put in place. However, land mines are not found in paved roads.
  • If there is any trouble in the country while you are there, keep away from busy market places and government buildings.
  • Be alert for soldiers with machine guns. Here are some things to watch for if you spot a soldier carrying a machine gun: If the machine gun is on the soldier’s back, you can relax (a little). If it is in the soldier's hands, you should be alert for possible trouble. And if an ammunition clip is inserted in the machine gun, you need to move away as quietly and quickly as possible.

Impoverished Countries

  • Do not advertise that you are an American. Basically, this means do not flash money and do not wear U.S. flag pins, flag sweaters, or red-white-and-blue clothing. Yes, we are all proud of our country, but not everyone in the world likes Americans. Some people view Americans as the “enemy.”
  • Keep close tabs on your luggage. Count all your luggage and then count and count again: Count your bags while you are at the airport, count them when a porter helps you, count them when they are loaded in a taxi, count them when they are unloaded from the taxi, and count your bags again when they are carried to your room.
  • When traveling in a vehicle keep all doors locked. Also, keep your purse, laptop, briefcase, etc., on the floor and windows rolled up whenever the vehicle comes to a stop.

Advice for All Who Travel

  • Try not to sit in an aisle seat on the plane. Hijackers have been known to give more trouble to passengers in aisle seats because they can easily reach them.
  • Count and remember the number of rows between your seat and the nearest exit on the plane. We hear this every time we board a plane, but be sure you actually do it this time – it could save your life.
  • Read the airline’s safety information card in your seat pocket.
  • Be aware that if the situation in the country becomes so unstable that you must be evacuated out of the country, the U.S. Department of State will charge you for the cost of your evacuation.

It all boils down to common sense: stay alert at all times and be aware of what is happening around you.

Credits: Excerpted from "International Adoption Guidebook," Mary M. Strickert

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