The Business of Travel Safety

By Tzviel Blankchtein

Because so many documented kidnappings have occurred due to a bad actor gaining awareness of the executive’s presence, any known personnel that the executive will contact while traveling should be researched. Since information on people can be difficult to obtain, the services of a trusted in-country investigator can greatly assist with this process.

Lastly, all of the information collected, plans made, and itineraries devised should remain confidential and only accessible by the executive and any other individuals on a need-to-know basis. Guarding it from being posted on social media or making its way to internal memos, which could end up in the hands of untrustworthy individuals, is the final step in increasing the safety of the traveling executive.


Training begins with sharing the information gathered during the advanced planning and intelligence-gathering phase with the executive who will be traveling. Making sure he or she is familiar with the trip details and feels comfortable with the various aspects of the travel is imperative.

During a pretravel briefing, training the executive on how to avoid appearing vulnerable is critical. This lesson will provide traveling executives with simple tactics to use that will help them avoid attracting attention to themselves. This can be accomplished by multiple means. For example, it is well known that the traveler should not wear clothing that identifies the executive as a tourist or a foreigner and should leave jewelry and other valuables at home.

Less obvious is adopting local customs such as greetings in the native language, modesty, dress, and speech patterns, all of which are recommended. By behaving and appearing less like a tourist, the traveling executive can transfer the risk to others who may now present more obvious and attractive potential targets.

Attending to minor details when attempting to blend in with the immediate environment is important. For example, in one situation, an American dignitary who was traveling to Panama decided to forsake his business suit for a pair of tan pants and a shirt purchased locally. However, he refused to give up his expensive shoes. When he and his security detail found themselves in an outdoor market during a robbery, the security detail kicked dirt onto the American’s shoes to ensure that he appeared inconspicuous.

Reviewing emergency protocols will allow the traveling executive to quickly react and recall important names in case of an emergency. The executive must recall contact names and know whether reaching out to local law enforcement is advised or discouraged, where hospitals are located, and the location and contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates at the country of destination.



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