Precautions to Avoid Being Being the Target of a Terrorist Attack

The following suggestions are based on information provided by the U.S. Department of State to help travelers abroad minimize their visibility and increase their awareness in the age of terrorism. While no plan is foolproof, these precautions may provide some degree of protection and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists. When traveling by air:

  • Schedule non-stop flights, or at least avoid flights that stop in high-risk locales.
  • Wear clothing that doesn't stand out. Dress for invisibility. 
  • Avoid adding distinctive markings to your luggage, even though this is a recommended way to discourage luggage theft. Bright markings on your luggage make you more visible and mark you as a tourist at a time when it's better to avoid being noticed.
  • After checking in for your flight, go immediately to the secured areas of the airport. 
  • When you arrive at a destination, get your baggage and leave the airport as quickly as possible. 
  • Scan your surroundings whenever in an airport, looking for abandoned briefcases, packages or suspicious items, and report them to airport authorities. Then leave immediately. 
General rules for personal security
  • If possible, travel with others. There is more safety in numbers. 
  • Avoid places that are popular with Western travelers, who are obvious targets for terrorism. Everywhere you go, have a plan, so you can act automatically in case of a bomb or terrorist attack. 
  • Memorize the locations and phone numbers of possible safe places to go, such as hospitals, hotels, and police stations. 
  • Watch for suspicious activity and report it to the local police or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 
  • Be careful with strangers--any stranger, for example, even taxi drivers. 
  • Don't tell a stranger too many details about your life or your plans. 
  • When in conversation with someone you do trust, be aware of people around you who may be listening. 
  • If you see something or someone suspicious, report it to the police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate immediately. 
  • Select your own taxi, and vary the place for doing that. Never get into a vehicle that is not clearly marked as a taxi. When you get in, take the opportunity to study the driver's face and compare it with the photo on the license displayed in the car. 
Security inside your hotel
  • If someone knocks at your hotel room door, never open it if you don't know who it is and can verify their identity. 
  • Arrange meetings with strangers in the public areas of your hotel, never in your room. 
  • If a package is delivered that you were not expecting, refuse it. 
  • Before driving, check your car to make sure it is in good condition and that nothing looks obviously changed. 
  • When traffic slows, lock your doors and close the windows of the car. 
If an attack does occur
Lie flat on the floor and behind any solid object that might protect you from gunfire. Stay put until the danger passes. If you have to move, do it on your stomach. When it's safe to get up, don’t stop for any reason, even to help police or rescue personnel. Just leave the area right away.