When going overseas, it is important to recognize that things can get out of control – fast. 

Vipsit has extensive experience in travel safety and what boxes that needs to be checked before, during, and after an international trip. We provide a well-tested checklist and travel templates to fill-in and print before the trip that will make it easier for you and your team to leave your home prepared.

Several years of intensive traveling, for more than 65% of the year, has taught us a couple of lessons.

A couple of broken ribs in Malaysia, broken fingers, being snatched unconscious from a hotel room in Hanoi with life-threatening Cholera, sero-converting for Tuberculosis after visiting too many TB laboratories in Africa, traveling across the globe on crutches, or the arm in a cast and, of course, a fair share of general stomach infections and parasites are among the many adventures experienced during travels by Vipsit personnel.

We think we have checked the box.. When you come home, visit the doctor, and suddenly the state health system calls you repeatedly, leaves messages, and wants to know where you have been for the last 6 days, what restaurants you dined in, and whether you made food for anybody else…. that is where the conversation starts….


Before you leave, you should ask yourself these three simple, but very important questions:

  • What could go wrong?
  • How can I prevent it?
  • How can I prepare for the unexpected?

If you face these questions on the way to the airport, let us share a sad fact with you … it is too late to reflect – just don’t.

Travel safety and security is about due diligence and communication. If you do your homework you will most likely have an amazing business trip or family vacation with your kids. Looking up clinics and phone numbers in advance is mandatory. The more you travel, the easier it gets. One day you just update the few cells in your excel sheet that need attention.

Lesson learned: There is NO trip that is too short or too close to home to not have done just a little homework. Even if it is on your own continent in a truck.

If you work systematically and use 30 minutes to set up your CHEAT SHEET you will enjoy it the rest of your life, because only a few cells need to be changed for each trip.

These suggestions and links have been written with American resources in mind. Remember that you will have local or regional resources available. Google a little, they will show up. Double check and verify with international resources.


Check the ISOS risk rating for the country and fill relevant information into the CHEAT SHEET.



What about the taxi driver? Does he take credit cards? Did he even start the meter? Does the meter run predictably or does it suddenly “jump” in price? Did you agree on a fixed price? Where was his identity badge? Did you take a snapshot of the license plate and a profile picture of him? Did you send it to a friend or family member?

Why is it that so many well educated and well schooled males insist on pushing a woman into a taxi first? If you let him do it, there is a time slot where the taxi driver has the opportunity to hit the gas, letting the car jump forward, thereby slamming the doors, and the cab can then take off with the woman inside. Why is it so difficult to un-train the male population, and convince them that sometimes it is better they go first and forget to act as the gentleman the mother trained him to be?

Shared drives with Uber/Lyft and similar systems, well new systems bring new risks to be aware of. Here is a great resource. Go there and look, there is no reason to repeat it all here.


Heading towards the car

Keep the keys in your hand in such a way that you can use them to fight back with. Often the windows work as mirrors, you can see what happens behind you if you look.


Remember that most modern cars have the “sound” button where the horn will begin to sound when you press the red button on the remote. Recognize that the same keys can work at a motel on the interstate, beside your pillow if your car is parked close enough. It is an audible alarm. We can take advantage of it as long as we know where the keys are.

When driving

When your (friendly!) driver rolls up the windows it is for a reason. He knows best. Leave them up. But maybe let there be a tiny opening. If a window is not locked into the frame on all four sides it bounces better, and a paving stone will more likely bounce back instead of smashing your window.

When stopping

When stopping at a red light, always leave a distance to the car in front of you so you can turn the steering wheel and get out if somebody drives up close behind you. Drive with locked doors. Put your purse out of sight.

Gas stations

Lock the doors, even when you get gas. It is very easy for someone to slip in the front door on the side that faces away from the gas pump. What ever you had on your front seat, it easily lost that way. They are fast and professional. They are called “sliders”‘.

Always refill your tank before it is close to empty. You want to be in a position to ditch a gas station and drive on to the next if there is anything that looks a little shady.



Give your bank a heads up. It is just a few clicks into your web-bank, and it matters. But … be prepared that, even if you DID let the bank know, if you use your credit card in 3-4 countries in a row like Bhutan, Korea, Indonesia, in less than 37 hours, … the bank will freak out and close the card anyway. This can happen even if you answered the 3 panic texts with “OK, Yes, I AM me, I did the transactions”. Always bring back-up credit cards. And bring a back-up to the back-up. The more bank card systems, the better. VISA, MasterCard, American express etc. The world is strange. Some places VISA cards are not accepted. Other places it is the MasterCard that is unpopular. Bring the phone numbers for your company support staff that have the authority to call into the system behind the facade and fix the business credit card limits. You never know when suddenly an international money transfer will go wrong as you are in the process of checking out, are late for the airport, and your credit limit on the card is not adequate to pay for a full venue, 30 participants, accommodation, food and coffee for a full week. Sounds crazy? Well it happens. Find these phone numbers and put them in your cheat sheet.

Keep old expired credit cards and carry them in a dummy wallet with a little local currency and maybe a few dollars. I have given four away to people that apparently needed them more than I.

Crime is everywhere, and it is a nuisance. However, it is even more of a nuisance when we are abroad because it is so cumbersome to start our lives up again. New passport, driving license, close credit cards, get new membership cards to our preferred grocery shop and …. fill in the blanks. Put all of the cards that go with you on the trip on the photocopy machine, both sides. It takes one minute, it saves a week if things should go wrong.


Check in advance if the country even takes credit cards. Some don’t. And verify what type of international currency that will work as back up. Sometimes it is dollars, other places it is Euro or Yen.

And keep your wealth distributed in different locations within your luggage. Bring a money belt, a hidden purse etc. to ensure that you don’t lose it all at the same time. Put some in your socks as well, as long as you remember to take it out before giving the socks away to a homeless.

Cash upon arrival

Do you know the exchange rate? Have you identified some type of memory technique to assist you in dividing or multiplying? Have you exchanged currency in advance? Do you have enough small bills to get from the airport to the hotel? Worst case … a one-dollar bill might do for the guy coming with your suitcase to the room.


Do your know your colleagues medical needs and life important medicines they carry with them? Do your have a culture in your company where it is OK to talk about this and ask? We all recognize we have a right to privacy, but we also sometimes have an obligation to our co-travelers to inform them where to look for the heart or asthma medicine.

Vaccinations: Check CDC’s homepage: and figure out if your vaccinations are current. Do that in due time before departure. Maybe you will need both a primary dose and a booster before you are ready to go. These may need to be spaced six or more weeks prior to your departure.

Medicine: Read the CDC page once more for information about what diseases are prevalent, and figure out what medicine you might need to stock up and bring. Pack it in your carry on, and make sure you bring enough to last a through a delayed return departure. Are you hiking or in extreme weather, waterproof zip-lock bags are a cheap investment.

Next step is to figure out if you can bring the medicine with you. Check TSA’s perspective, CDC’s guidance and your own local sources. Note that travelers all over the world are spending time in foreign jails because they did not check in time. They assumed that the medicine they had used the last 6 years was OK to bring abroad. Most medicine is permitted, but some is not. The restrictions continue to surprise. Print the documentation that will prove you are the user of this specific medicine, and that a doctor prescribed it, to you. Many countries have restrictions and also guidance on how to prepare, what you can bring, and what not. Google in advance, educate yourself. It is easy.

Identify good, approved clinics in the area where you are heading. ISOS is a good place to start. Print the addresses, phone numbers and opening hours. Print google maps with locations clearly marked. Go deeper and if Google will give you a picture of the building, take a screen shot and position it close to the map. It makes a difference when the taxi driver does not speak your language and has trouble reading maps. When leaving the hotel, grab a business card at the reception desk. It will have the address and a phone number. Your taxi driver can call, and get somebody to talk him in.


  • Have you acquainted yourself with the whole layout of the hotel and not just where the ice machine is located?
  • Have you let your fingers flow over the door frames as you went down the corridor and counted your steps and number of door frames to the emergency exit?
  • Have you walked down the evacuation stairs from your room to the ground floor in your hotel?
  • Did you discover the excess conference chairs and tables that were stored in the stair way between the ground and third floor piled up almost to the ceiling?
  • Do you have a plan to get out if the elevator is out of operation?
  • Have you agreed upon a “meeting point” with your colleagues in case the hotel suddenly has to evacuate? Are there any high buildings around with big glass facades? Maybe that is not where you want to meet?
    And do you have a second back-up location further away?
    Do you actually know your colleagues room numbers if you wanted to call them using the hotel phone because suddenly everything else, internet and mobile net, did not work?
  • Did you ever walk fully around your hotel? How does the back look? As impressive as the front might look with bars, granite boulders, bollards, guards and metal detectors – what is happening on the back side? Or is this the place the stray dogs and the stray donkey (yep, it happened!) found their way into the hotel premises?
  • Did you chose a floor that the local fire fighters can reach with their ladders? Did you chose a location away from being right above the most obvious targets, such as the restaurant and the bar?
    Do your know your colleagues active phone numbers?
    Do you know their spouses/significant others phone numbers?


Remember that most rings have a flashy part and a dull part. The princess ring with the flashy diamond can be turned around and look like a very dull but sincerely committed wedding ring. Do it before you deplane, or don’t wear it at all. Try to look around next time you step off the plane and notice how many eyes are in a position to gauge you before you have even gotten out of the jet-way.

An old sock in a worn and torn bag is often a better place to keep the photo equipment you do not hang around your neck. The flashy photo equipment bags attract attention and builds desire.


Did you have enough small local bills to pay the luggage guy that snatched your suitcase from the luggage belt, and ran with it in front of you to the taxi driver, and when you caught up with your suitcase had to deal with two against your single person?


Best distraction EVER! As long as you look at the screen, you have no idea of what is happening around you. Abduction, theft or assault has never been easier. Carry two. When the first gets stolen, it only takes a couple of taps on the second one to wipe the first one. If you drop your phone and somebody is so honest to give it back to you, recognize them for it and give them a tip. If not they might come back and snap it again, and that time keep it.

Take the time to update your phone with ALL the relevant numbers for your travel purpose. But do not rely on this. Always keep a printed CHEAT SHEET with you at all times, one back in the safe and one uploaded to the cloud….unless you have memorized it all.

Use the map function on your phone and pin in your hotel location. It helps when the taxi driver suddenly “gets lost”. You can then help him find the shortest way home…..

Take frequent pictures when you go through the city. If you get lost or cannot find the car, you might be able to backtrack via the stored photographs on your phone.


No, not at all, They have other challenges. We have been in situations where the team came back after a long day’s work, and suddenly we observed the male part of our team heading into what was obvious a trap. It did not look like a trap, it did not feel, smell or seem like a trap, but it was a trap. We observed for a while, drank our wine and the three of us began to discuss how five of us (2 males, 3 females) would get out without any repercussions. We observed a little more, … oh well .. they were both having a great time. When we decided it had lasted long enough, the two females went to the bartender and asked what a full night would cost. It was about 37 dollars in local currency, and we were told it would typically take 2-4 costumers to accumulate that amount of money (No, it was not a Western country). We looked at each other, divided and conquered like all responsible women would do. Vips took the teal dress, and the colleague took the white dress. We went up to the ladies, looked them in the eyes and suggested that they each would take 45 dollars, call it a night and go home and get a good nights sleep, and get the kids up for school tomorrow. They looked at us, nodded and agreed. Then, magically, they disappeared like vapor out of their chairs. Our male colleagues were confused and surprised. “Where did they go? We just had such a good chat? …”. We knew it would all start over for the teal and the white dress tomorrow, but at least we had given them half a night off.