Avoid getting taken!

How single travelers can stay safe in other countries

Courtesy photo

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

You know the scene in the blockbuster hit, Taken, when Liam Neeson travels to Europe to rescue his daughter who has been taken to be put into the sex trade. Once he finds the bad guy, he uses clever trickery to identify him. This is where Liam utters the iconic line, "I told you I would find you." This, of course, is followed by fighting. It made for great cinema, but most people don't have a kick-ass dad like Liam Neeson and most people definitely do not have time to get abducted and sold into the sex trade on their dream vacation? Little did they know that a good itinerary would have made everyone's life easier. (And for a very bad movie). Because I care, I'm going to tell you how to construct a good itinerary that will be your first line of defense while traveling abroad.

It is not a pleasant thought that bad people exist in this world and are waiting to take advantage of you, but the fact is bad people exist in this world and are waiting to take advantage of you. So, you have to be prepared. You also want to travel as efficiently as possible so it helps to have all the information you need in one spot. Your friends and family need to be able to track you wherever you have been and are going. Here are the tools you will need to start.

Your passport

Look at the expiration date. Is it valid? To be valid for travel, a passport has to have enough time on it for you to go on your trip, come back, and still be valid for six months after that. If this is not the case, then you need to renew it. You will also need at least two pages of blank pages for stamps. If you don't have a passport, then why are you still reading this? Go to your local post office and get one.


Give yourself plenty of time for thorough research.

Research

I'm not talking about the Lonely Planet/ Rick Steves research. I'm talking about travel advisory sites. Most countries have one. Ours is Travel.State.Gov. This site covers everything that you would need to know about the country you are traveling to from the population to climate and more. Do you need a visa to enter the country? What vaccines do you need and when do you need to get them? Recent terroist activity? Currency exchange? Crime rate? Natural disasters? And local laws? (Whatever happens in Bangkok, stays in Bangkok is not exactly true). Make notes of all these things.

Flight information

Once you have all your flight information finalized, gather it together. Start with the departure from your city. What airline are you using? What is your departure time? What gate? Where do you land next? What is your arrival time? What is your airline number? When do you return? Basically, every and any bit of information you can give, give it (Just in case you get taken).

Transportation and hotel information.

How are you getting to your hotel? Most times, hotels have a pickup and drop off service. This is good to use because the driver and times are easily tracked. Add your hotel information to your itinerary. While you are there, get the name of the person that you made the reservation with and the name of the person who will be checking you in when you arrive. Write the names of these people down. Be sure to include what their position is at the hotel.

Activities

List all the things that you plan to do on each day. List the mode of transportation that you will be using such as a train to hop from town to town. Include train or bus numbers and companies. If you are going on any tours or taking a cooking class, you should include all contact information.

Now it is time to make copies of your itinerary and the first two pages of your passport and give them to your closest friends and family and keep one for yourself. As a final touch, include the names and contact information of each person who received your itinerary so they can all communicate (just in case you get taken).

If you are jet setting around Europe or wherever and will be hopping from France to Spain to Italy for example, repeat all of these steps for every country you visit. Be sure to repeat these steps until every leg of your trip has been documented. I know it is a really tedious task, so don't wait until the day before you leave to start.

Be home before the street light comes on.Here are some final tips to remember.

  1. Talk to someone on your list everyday.
  2. Stick to your itinerary. Your people back home do not know your new plans unless you tell them.
  3. Plan your day carefully to blend in and look less like a tourist. In Croatia, I took an hour to plan my day the first day there for this exact reason and when I went out into the square, I was the only black person ever.
  4. Don't sow your wild oats while traveling alone.
  5. Don't accept help from anyone who offers it. Anyone who offers help has been watching you and knows that you are alone. Ask workers in uniform or law enforcement for help.
  6. And unlike on Taken, don't let strange men or women Know where you are staying.
  7. Come back alive.

A little yoga in your life

Yoga tips, part 3: Sleep like a baby

Here are a few yoga poses that will help you ease into a restful night and sleep like a baby. Right before you go to sleep, begin your practice with the combination of these poses and deep breathing to calm the mind, your body will begin to release physical tension. This combination activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract stress.

1) Restorative child's pose:

To come into the pose: sit on your shins, knees together (however if you are putting a pillow under tummy, spread the knees to insert pillow. Lay forward in Child's Pose resting the body over the knees or pillow. Arms can rest forward or behind, the head should take equal time being turned to each side. If needed, make sure you have enough space under the belly, to not strain the back. Hold this pose between 20 seconds and 2 minutes.

2) Supine Twist:

There are many health benefits to supine twist. Here are just a few. Help release lower-back,

Opens tight shoulders, elongates the supporting spinal muscles, improves digestion, and quiets the mind, just to name a few. To start this pose lay on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest. Take your left hand to your outer right thigh and guide your right knee to the left. Reach your right arm out to the right on the ground. You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right. You can keep your left hand on the ground.

3) Supta battakansana:

This is also known as reclining bound angle pose. Lay on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together. Lie back on your bolster and support your head with a blanket, so that your head is above your heart. Allow the knees to open and relax into the props. Hold for about 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. You also want to remember to breath 20-30 breaths during this time period.

4) Savasana:

This is also known as Corpse pose. You want to end your sequence with this pose and hold for either 3-10 minutes. Lie back, letting your legs and arms relax. Bring your attention to your breath and notice which nostril is clearer. To come out of the pose, draw your knees in toward your chest. Instead of automatically rolling to your right side, roll onto whichever side feels comfortable.

Try these 4 positions to help you fall asleep faster and get a restful night of sleep. A huge thank you to Nathalie Kosman who helped me throughout the yoga series. You can catch her at The Preserve, Fit Athletic Club and Equinox for private and group classes! Also on Instagram @Nathalie_kosman

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