Episode #14 Transcript - Don’t Travel Again Before You Hear These CRITICAL Personal Safety Tips
Kelly: Hello and welcome back to Thrive Unafraid. I am so excited today. Ron is someone that I connected with back when I was starting my journey with situational awareness, and he was kind enough to give time to answer all of my “silly questions” that I couldn’t find answers to. So I’ve known Ron quite a while now and am excited to have him on today’s show to talk.
We’re gonna go more specifically into travel, safety, hotel safety, some of the do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. But I will start off by introducing you and Ron, I should have asked how to pronounce your last name.
Ron: It’s Tetreau. I’ve been called a little bit of everything over the years. Terro Terro, but yeah, it’s…
Doug: How can you tell she doesn’t live in a French part of the country, like New England and lives in the Midwest where it’s all German?
Ron: And where you’re from, you’re from New Hampshire, right, Doug? [00:01:00] Yeah. So, all the French smucks come from Maine over there. Yeah,
Kelly: Alright, you two. So Ron Tetreau.
Kelly: Did I say run again? Tetreau is a a retired police detective from the city of Wocket, Rhode Island, serving 24 years as a law enforcement officer and is also a 38 year veteran of both United States Air Force and United States Army. He is currently AMSG, which…
Ron: That’s correct. Yep. Retiring. Yep.
Kelly: …in the US Army Reserves. He is a graduate of Roger Williams University holding a BS degree in criminal justice and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in terrorism and counter-terrorism studies as a police officer. He served on the SWAT team for more than 16 years as the training coordinator, as well as serving as both an assault team leader and sniper team leader, participating in leading operations, including barricaded suspects, high risk [00:02:00] warrants, drug interdiction, operations…
He was also a member of the State of Rhode Island Homeland Security, weapons of mass destruction team serving on the assault element. He was a guest instructor at the FBI Law Enforcement Sniper School and served as a liaison to Joint Special Operations Command as a guest instructor at the FBI Sniper School.
As a member of the 1996 Summer Olympic Security team, he was assigned to the personal security detail at the soccer venue at the University of Georgia. So, in other words, you might have just a lot of experience, Ron is what I’m…
Ron: Well, I’m, I’m humbled by your introduction, Kelly. But, yeah. Over the last nearly 40 years, between law enforcement and military, I’ve had a wide array of training and a fortunate amount of being able to work with some highly trained professionals, both in law enforcement and the military, especially with the special operations [00:03:00] command, over the last nearly 20 years.
Kelly: Very cool. Well, and you’ve had a lot of travel. Because of all of that, I know that, when I was looking at some of your other information, how many tours have you done with the military…
Ron: Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Five or six tours total.
Kelly: So extensive amounts of travel to areas of the world that aren’t exactly safe. So you’ve learned different ways while traveling. I’m assuming that you share that in your personal life with those you love. I know we talked earlier off recording about your daughter before she traveled…
Kelly: And we wanted to… there’s so many places to start, but Doug has actually worked on a collaborative docent, a travel safety guide, and so we thought, well, we’ll just start with that and go [00:04:00] through that because we’ll be able to link that travel safety docent in the episode key for this episode. So listeners, take everything in that we’re gonna share today, but just know we will also share that docent in the episode key. Make sure to go to the website, thediamondarrowgroup.com under “podcast” to get the docent and you can read it for yourself.
So one thing that came up is hotel door safety. I had shared an article a few months ago regarding front desk staff giving individuals keys to people’s rooms that weren’t their room. Unfortunately, this was a male suspect, male individual gaining access to a female’s room and attacking her.
Then I shared a video of the Doorstopper alarm quick under a minute, “Hey, this is me trying it, testing it.” That’s already been viewed 56,000 times, which is crazy to me. And then I [00:05:00] recently reshared where Inside Edition had done kind of like a behind the scenes or undercover, had their male producer go up to a front desk and ask for a key to a woman’s room and both times was given it without even asking for ID. So real scary stuff, but I thought, because that’s most current, we could talk about that. What devices do you feel are most effective for securing hotel doors and why?
Ron: Go ahead, Doug.
Kelly: You wanna jump in there?
Doug: Yeah, I wanna jump in real quick and, and take us back a little bit before that and say, “why are we talking about travel safety as opposed to just safety?” Right. What is it about traveling that we need our listeners, our audience, to think differently about safety. What do…
Ron: So one of the things I noticed when people travel and especially when I travel with my family, they’re so focused on the end game. The end game being let’s get to our destination and let’s go [00:06:00] do the fun things that we want to do, right? So we kind of overlook the stuff that Doug, you and I are used to doing… if you will, that pre-deployment site survey.
Where are we going? What type of hotel are we staying in? What’s the environment around the hotel? What are the immediate threats around the hotel? Those are the things that we kind of overlook. So they’re always focused on the fun stuff without, and of course no one wants to put a negative light on any of our travel, but we have to be prepared for something that could happen.
More than likely, we’re gonna be struck by lightning without anything else happening to us. But if we’re not prepared for that unfortunate event, then we’re not gonna know how to react to it. Right. So I think that’s what’s important. Everybody just buys their trip, they get on their cruise, they get off their excursions, and they don’t pay attention to really what’s going on around them when they get off on the excursions or they get to their final destination.
Doug: So I think you’re exactly right. It’s [00:07:00] the fact that the environment is now different than what they’re used to being in. And early on, the two analogies I heard were the D boy who goes into the countryside, spends time staring up at all these tall trees because he spent all this time in the concrete jungle and gets bit by a rattlesnake because he is not looking for the dangers in that new environment or the country girl who goes to the city and is staring up at all the skyscrapers and steps off a curb and gets hit by a cab.
Because again, not recognizing that I’m in a new environment that’s not my own, and I have to take time to readjust and reset my parameters. And I think that was the genesis behind putting together this traveler safety guide. It goes, Kelly, this’ll resonate with you. As I had moms calling me and saying, “Hey, my daughter’s going to Europe. What do I need to think about?” And so it began with moms asking questions about what do we need to evaluate differently? How do we need to set this world up for our kids and begin to work through [00:08:00] those things like hotel door security, but before you can even begin to address hotel door security, you gotta recognize it.
Your hotel door doesn’t lock the same way. Your door’s at home lock and other people have keys that don’t have keys to your home at home. So how do you begin to think about the problem set in those environments?
Ron: And Doug, I think it’s funny you brought it up. Before you came on, Kelly and I were talking, and when my daughter traveled abroad for college, I had a training video that I made sure she watched. And it was the movie taken and we sat down and watched it together. And although it’s fiction and although it’s a bit far-fetched, you and I both know that those scenarios happen every day.
Around the world. And it really put the fear in her that while she’s traveling, she needs to have her head on a swivel and she needs to travel with others. She can’t be alone and she can’t trust people the way she might trust people, that she’s used to dealing with every day.[00:09:00]
Doug: But even those we know, they can’t trust…
Ron: Again, we all have different levels of where we feel comfortable. And I, and I told her, I said, if you feel uncomfortable every day while you’re overseas, then that means you’re paying attention more than you would, being at home. Where that baseline is different than when she’s traveling abroad.
Doug: So if Kelly’s goal with Stay Sharp and the work she does in situational awareness is to kind of take folks from a very low baseline and get them thinking about security. Our goal in travel security is then to take folks who, maybe have a little bit of an understanding of security concepts, but recognize they’re in a new environment with new threats and recognize that they have to stop thinking about things the way they’ve always thought about them and change.
And one of my favorite visual examples, I sent Kelly a photo of this, the fact that when you go to a crosswalk in the UK, oftentimes at crosswalk, starting at the [00:10:00] airport, it tells you to look right. When you go to cross the crosswalk in, in, or, sorry, look left, when you go to cross the crosswalk instead of look right, because it’s the opposite of where so many of their international travelers are coming from.
And people are looking down at the crosswalk and they see the words and it causes them to change the direction that they look. So, and actually I got, I had it right the first…
Kelly: Well, and I wanna interject a little bit. One is I don’t want people to not travel because of fear. I don’t want people to stop. There’s way too many cool places in the world, so many cool people to meet, so many experiences. How you, I really don’t feel you can experience culture without going to it.
You can a little bit, but you really, until you’ve been to a place, until you’ve visited and kind of immersed yourself. So I don’t want people to not travel out of fear and, and how can we change that conversation to curiosity is like, hey, looking around, establishing the new [00:11:00] baseline. It’s not looking for the boogieman in the bushes.
It’s just staying curious. I love the examples of crosswalk because it seems very vanilla when it comes to our personal safety. It’s important. We don’t wanna get smoked by a taxi to your, to your example before Doug. But those are the type of things is staying curious, looking around. Don’t walk around with your earbuds in while you’re traveling.
Don’t have your, I get it, you might not know where you’re going. Don’t have your head, your eyes in your phone the whole time trying to figure out where you’re walking. Like get to know ahead of time. Okay, I’ve gotta take a right on 17th and then I’m gonna go down to Brookhurst and then I’m gonna take another right on third and at least have that in your head so you’re not constantly looking.
Your phone. We could go, I digress on that, but…
Doug: You’ll throw a picture of the crosswalk up in the show notes. Well, just as an example. I know Ron was joking a little bit when he talked about, put the fear in her because [00:12:00] fear’s not a great motivator for good decision making. So there’s tongue in cheek aspects of that for sure.
But at some level, spending time on areas of familiarization, learning where you’re going and what you’re gonna see before you leave your home, and then again before you leave your hotel. What that does is it keeps you safer, but it also makes for a more enjoyable trip because you get to keep your eyes up, you get to see what’s going on around you.
You get to be more immersed in the environment because you’ve better planned and better…
Ron: Absolutely. Yeah. Yep.
Kelly: Yeah. Well, and I wanna get back to the hotel door question, because I could see us just going right off the tangent on this topic, but it did come up because these are questions I got and Doug had brought up too. Some questions, but what do you, what devices do you travel with yourself or recommend?
Ron: So how about before we get to the door? How about what happens at the front desk? Because, right. I mean, [00:13:00] so, just traveling. Just recently got back from a trip. We were working out in Nevada and we stayed right down in downtown Las Vegas, which as you both well know, is a haven for anything you wanna see and any type of hotel safety, you can see good and bad.
Yep, exactly. You’ll be slapping ’em in your face. And so one of the things I noticed right away when I got to the front desk is they loudly said my room number in front of everyone. So I try and beat them to that and I’m still one of those old guys that checks in at the desk. Most of the guys I work with, they use the apps.
They don’t even check in at the desk. They go right to their room and their phone will unlock their rooms in most of the hotels we stay in for most of the major chains. But I tell people when they’re traveling to ask the person at the desk, you don’t need to tell me my room number, just write it write it on the card sleeve and I’ll get to my room.
So that’s the first thing is, [00:14:00] you don’t want people advertising what room you’re gonna be staying in. The other thing at the front desk is, well, when they ask you how many keys you want, I usually take two. But, again, not showing where your room is by opening that up. Take your key and then walk away, and then when you’re in private, open that up so that you’ve completely compartmentalized your room number from anyone that might have eyes on or be possibly looking at you.
So that’s just one of the things I like to do at the front desk. When I’m doing the next thing I do is when I go to my room, I actually, the first thing I do is check the door and make sure the door’s operating properly. I will tell you I stay in the DC area quite a bit, mostly down there by Fort Belvoir, and there was a hotel I was staying in in Springfield that I asked for another room.
Immediately I could see a space in the door, and the first thing I did was shut the door. Okay. And then opened it up. And [00:15:00] Doug, you probably know how I opened it up. I used a credit card and I probably could have opened it up with a napkin. That’s how easy the door opened. So I was able to open the door pretty easily.
I went back to the front desk and said, “Hey, I need to get another room.” And, they said, there’s no more rooms available. And I said, then I’m gonna be checking out. I’ll call our travel agent for the agency I work for. And I said, I’m gonna be staying at another hotel. When I asked for the security manager, they said, “well, we don’t have a security manager.”
We just have a maintenance worker. Which by the way, the maintenance guy knows more about that building than anyone else in the building. But they seemed as if they weren’t concerned at all with my concerns of their security. And I just went to another hotel and then I told our security manager, we won’t be staying there anymore.
So we don’t use that hotel anymore. So as far as the things I bring with me, I will tell you that, I don’t bring a wedge, I don’t bring any tools with me. I check, I feel [00:16:00] very secure in the rooms I’m staying in now. I would suggest to people that bringing a door wedge is really a good tool to bring with you, and it’s something you can pack in your bag.
It doesn’t even need to be in your check bag. It could be in your, your your go bag or whatever your bag is. You take, and literally when you get in your room, you chalk your door. Doug, you can probably attest this as well as I can. You, you can make door locks, right with the silverware that you have, in your drawer.
, a fork. It can be easily turned into a door lock if you don’t have any other locks to help you with your door. but I, I really like the video that you shared, Kelly, the, the news video. And how easy it was to get keys. And within that video it talked about, chalking doors and also, your, your, your portable door alarms that you can, that you can bring with you.
So, for me personally,
Kelly: Yeah. I’m like, wait a minute. Hold on. Okay. A, just to clarify, when he [00:17:00] says using a credit card, it’s not like it was scanning the key card or thing.
Ron: yeah, I, I, I literally popped, I popped the lock. Sorry. I should have, I should have clarified that. Yeah. Yep.
Kelly: that’s okay. And then with the, the fork, I, I need you to explain that to me because I, I could use that.
There’s forks readily available. So what does, what do you mean
Ron: So Doug, Doug is probably familiar with the technology that I’m speaking of, and it’s just basically you’re bending two of the forks in, so the forks would, would go into the lock mechanism itself, into the whole mechanism itself. The other two are sticking out, and then you’re sliding, you’re breaking off the end of the fork.
You’re literally breaking off the long end of the fork, and you stick it through the, the prongs, and that’ll prevent the door from un from opening. So the two forks that are actually going in the lock mechanism are holding the lock and that you can use a fork to create a door lock.
Kelly: Okay. I’m gonna have to find a YouTube video or
Ron: There’s probably many of them. [00:18:00] , it’s just basic, Doug, it’s. Trade craft, I’m sure.
Doug: Yeah. Yeah. But, but I mean, there’s trade offs with all this, right? So, and I think that’s part of. What you wanna evaluate is what, what are you protecting against and what are the tools you have at your disposal to protect against? And while there are absolutely field expedient solutions, there are also other tools that you can take with you in advance so that you don’t have to rely fall back on some of those.
And so it de, it totally depends on the environment you’re going into. and recognize too that in locking your doors with some of these tools, I. You’re making it harder for you to egress, get out of your room in a, in an emergency or maybe impossible for somebody to get into your room in the event that you have a medical emergency that’s happening to yourself.
So again, there’s all these, these trade-offs you, each individual has to evaluate for themselves, and, and make the the decision about how they secure their
Ron: I like how.[00:19:00]
Kelly: Right, and that was, that was one of the questions is how do we deal with tools or mechanisms if we need a speedy exit and egress.
Ron: And I liked how you put that, Doug, you, the, the tradeoffs are there, right? So the risk reward, right? The reward is somebody’s not gonna be able to break into my room. But the risk is if, for whatever reason, I needed to get outta that room quickly, have I rehearsed how to get outta there? Or if someone needs to get in quickly, are they gonna be able to get in at all, without breaching tools and, and, and other devices to get in the, to get in the room?
Doug: All of this is a toggle, a continu along a single line of flexibility and security, right? And so everybody has to figure out what is right for them. So, In this environment and what’s right for them in, Branson, Missouri may be different from Las Vegas, which may be different from Paris, which may be different from Baghdad.
And so everybody needs to understand [00:20:00] themselves, their skillsets, the tools they have and the environment they’re in. Kelly, one of the things I always travel with is this, U S B, it’s called a, U s B condom, right? And
Doug: it blocks the flow of data and only allows the flow of electronics. Or of power so that you could potentially, it protects you in using, public u s b ports for charging your phone,
Kelly: So, in other words, when you were plugging your phone into the hotel room lamp, because now they’re getting away from outlets and now it’s all U S B ports. So that’s something that should become an everyday travel item.
Doug: And again, back to some of the med, the, the, tools we’ve talked about, good, better, best models of security. Best is always gonna be, plugging it in through that power outlet with your, your own brick. but , if you’re gonna, if you can’t have best, then better maybe, finding a way to ensure that you’re only getting electricity instead of [00:21:00] transmitting data.
Through, that USB port
Ron: that’s a really good point, Doug. And, and one of the things, when you talk about, protecting your data, so one of the bags that they issue us actually has almost like a Faraday pouch in it. and that that pouch protects all of our, all of our items that could be, scanned, whether it’s our passports, whether it’s our.
Even your, your keys to your, to your hotel, our phones, everything goes in that, that goes in that pouch. And the, these bags are commercially available and I highly recommend that when you’re traveling, no matter where you’re traveling, that you, you get a bag that has a pouch where you can protect your, your data.
So that was, that was a great point.
Doug: So for, for our listeners who may not know what a Faraday bag is or why it matters, right. there are folks that will deploy devices around the world, including inside airports, that will pick up. Emissions or can read cards, passports, [00:22:00] credit cards, cell phones, et cetera, and can pick up various amounts of data from those devices without being in, physical contact with those devices.
And, and so it may be you lose your hotel key to get. Duplicated by somebody else. It may be somebody picks up, your cell phone and your IP address and starts to, track you that way and maybe they scan your credit card and steal it that way. an a parity bag is a specific type of bag that, will block the transmission of anything over the air, so that it can’t be picked up by those, those other devices, you can buy ’em built into bags, as Ron talked about.
You can buy ’em as standalone pouches, et cetera. and, and it’s, what happens is it’s protecting yourself against kind of mass data collection. Typically, this is not something that’s targeted at you, Joe or Jane Traveler specifically. But is, somebody trying to, [00:23:00] to mass collect against a broad swath of targets and then see what the, what data that they collected they can take advantage of.
Kelly: Right. And that’s something, for listeners, we’ll pull links and put it in the episode key.
Doug: Not that we’re recommending specific, tools or, or things, but we want you to do your own research, but we’ll point you in the right direction to begin to do your own looking at those things.
Kelly: Correct. I do have a question from a follower that came through. What if someone gets a key to your room and enters while you’re not there and is waiting for you when you return? Any thoughts, scenarios, quick discussion points on that
Ron: Yeah. So one of the things, as a guy that did surveillance, a lot of surveillance, Doug, you’ll appreciate this. I take pictures of my room before I leave my room and I kind of leave traps. So I leave things that need to be moved. In order to get to [00:24:00] certain areas of my room, and I know from the pictures I’ve taken, whether somebody’s been in my room or not now, it may seem a little over the top, but depending on where I’m traveling in the world, I, that’s just what I do.
And, having done surveillance for years, I know how these things are done and for me, it’s just a safe way of knowing no one’s been in my room now. If someone’s in, was your question, is someone in your room when you get back there? I.
Kelly: I think that was because they were saying, these male individuals gaining access to the rooms while they’re in it. And so then the question was, well, what if they get my key? I’m not there and they’re just waiting for me when I, so then my door, I don’t have the deadbolt, I don’t have the door stopper alarm, and I’m walking into my room
Ron: I mean, it’s obviously worst case scenario, right? And, and we need to be able to, and you, you hit on this in your book, one of the things you wrote [00:25:00] about in the book was the ood loop, right? , the ood loop is that decision making process that was designed by fighter pilots in the 1950s, right? And so you’ve observed what’s happening, you’re orienting yourself from your training and your experience to make a decision, and then to finally, what is your action gonna be?
So, There’s no perfect an, you wrote this in your book also. There’s no perfect answer. There’s no silver bullet. you’re gonna observe what’s happening and you’re gonna orient yourself to that action or whatever’s happening in your room. And then you need to come up with a decision making process as to how you’re gonna handle that, whether it’s immediately leaving, which is what.
The normal person would do, attempting to prevent any confrontation and then getting the help that you need to, to, to mitigate that, that issue. And then in the worst case scenario, then, then you’ll have to act. And acting means being able to defend yourself in any way, shape, or possible with whatever it is that you have to [00:26:00] defend yourself.
Doug: you a funny story about hotel rooms though Kelly, one of my, colleagues was traveling overseas in South Asia. For the very first time. And, he went to this, really kind of beat up rundown hotel that had been booked for him, grabs his hotel key at, 1230 in, in the morning after having traveled 17 hours to get there from the states.
Goes to open his room and there are six other men in his room asleep already. And that’s when he discovered that he had been booked into a shared room with.
Doug: Strangers he had never met before from cultures. He had no idea, most of whom were asleep. And he had to, he and he stayed, and he stayed in that room that night, curled up with one eye open in a, in a corner of the room.
, because he had, in his opinion, no other options and just needed to sleep. So [00:27:00] one of the keys to all this is not to walk out in fear, but to be aware. And be prepared to make your decisions and, and support the decisions you made and, and stick with them. In his case, he felt that he was not at physical, risk to himself.
That he, he, he might, not be comfortable with him, but he, he had a plan and he, and he worked through it,
Kelly: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Doug: there were already people in the room when he went in there.
Doug: there were no other rooms in that place and no other hotels to get to. And he had no, didn’t speak the language.
He had no local currency, like, a lot of, a lot of factors went. His
Ron: Have never had that happen, but have stayed in hostels where you have rooms that are, it’s a shared building and there’s little or no security within the building. It’s not a hotel, it’s a house with just separate rooms and that’s it. Yeah.
Doug: I think one of the other key things that I wanna encourage our listeners [00:28:00] when they’re traveling to a place that they’ve not been before. Particularly if they’re traveling outside the United States. Do a little bit of research, not just on the places you want to go and the sites you wanna see, but learn what’s different that may be important about that country relative to where you’re coming from.
Right? What are their privacy laws, right? Your expectations on privacy should be significantly lower going overseas. Most countries do not have a bill of rights where your privacy is, is respected. recognize that things that may be totally legal here may be illegal where you’re going. And two simple examples of that would be pocket knives in the UK and a , Sudafed in Japan.
Both of which can potentially get you thrown in jail very easily in those two countries. Sudafed is a controlled substance in Japan, and, and normal box of pseudo fed is considered enough quantity for an intent to distribute, charge in, in addition [00:29:00] to, having, illegal possession. And, many of us carry pocket knives in our pockets in the United States to take care of mostly opening packages, but, Other things as well.
And, that will get taken immediately in the UK and potentially get you, in legal jeopardy. So learn what rules differ and why they may matter to you for the trip you’re taking.
Kelly: , and what I made the note about the chewing g in Singapore. If you wanna talk about that, because I thought that was an interesting, I was like, what? When I was reading through your travel safety guide.
Doug: , now you gotta make, now I gotta go back and look up that particular story. I mean about the, the getting arrested for, importing, chewing g into a place where it’s not allowed.
Kelly: I think I mean something, but that’s something I travel with breath mints or chewing g all the time. And so that is something I would never think would get me in trouble in a foreign country. And so it goes back to, to your point, research ahead of time [00:30:00] before you go do look around. One thing that I like to do when I was traveling to Barcelona a few years ago, is look at the live cams.
I mean, there’s live cams. All over. Just to get a feel for what is the type of clothing that is typically worn at this time of year. What, what is it? What do people look like as they’re going about their day? What does the street look like? What does, this is in the moment live cam, so it’s not a recording.
It’s not a couple years ago, a couple months ago. It’s right now. So that’s one thing I like to do. And then the street view. that was, that was helpful for me on that trip because I could walk through the airport from street view.
Doug: Asking the question, what do I need to be aware of in X environment before you go, a simple Google search that says, I’m gonna go to Madrid, so what do I need to be aware of In Madrid will bring up the most common scams. It’ll bring up, law changes, it’ll, that are, that are relevant, et cetera.
And [00:31:00] so, just thinking about the right question to ask as you prepped for this travel. will, will be important. And, and Ron, how much, I mean, before traveling overseas, you’re gonna spend a significant amount of time understanding the environment. You’re going to the culture and the
Ron: Yeah, me, me personally, now I’ve been doing this for so long, like yourself, that it’s, it’s really second nature to get on the Department of State website to check out, the where I’m going, what are the immediate threats of where I’m going, and, also that whole gray man theory. Right.
, so you talked about the live cams, Kelly and, and, I definitely wouldn’t be dressed like I am right now. I Dr. I dress much more casually. I don’t wear Meryl’s, I don’t wear five elevens. I don’t wear American baseball hats. I really try and blend into the environment because I. A tourist is a target already just being a tourist.
, and I, and I don’t mean a, a threatening target, they’re a target for, for panhandler [00:32:00] beggars, they’re, they’re a target for everything. so if you can make yourself less of a target, by blending in and, and using that gray man, theory and that gray man, approach towards where you’re going.
Then you can just enjoy, like you said earlier, what it is you’re going there to do, without drawing attention to yourself. And, and if you, if you look like a local and kind of act like a local you, other than the way you speak, and if some of the language, if you prepare yourself a little bit, you can know some of the common phrases, without having to look at your.
Google translator. and, and, and you can, you can blend in as much as possible to where it, and, and the local people will enjoy the fact that you’re actually trying to learn about their culture. I was in the Czech Republic, Czech Republic last fall, and, which by the way, I highly recommend anybody that’s never been there, go.
It’s beautiful country and, the local people really do like the tourists because it brings a lot of money [00:33:00] in. And, it’s easy as. People that look like us to blend in. if you dress appropriately and you look, look appropriate and act appropriately and, and it’ll make your trip a whole lot, a whole lot more enjoyable.
Doug: , the GWA and, and , nber of movies have kind of ruined the gray man concept for me in a sense. And so I, I think the, a more current analogy is be a
Ron: There you go. That’s great. That’s perfect. I like that.
Doug: that. what you’re, it many environments, a gray man will stand out as
Ron: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Doug. It, it’s, you wanna be where’s Waldo, if anything. Right. ? So, yeah.
Doug: right. And, and , and again, it’s all about trying to make yourself a harder target because ultimately criminals tend to be, on the lazier side, and they’re gonna look for an easier target if you’re making yourself a harder one.
Kelly: Mm-hmm. And, and this goes to, I think from a female perspective, especially [00:34:00] traveling to certain countries, is they have different, Expectations of how women should dress. And I, okay, I get it. You’re an American. You, you got your freedoms, you get to do what you want. Well, guess what? You’re in a different country and that’s not making your personal safety a priority.
So it’s really not an argent for, to me, it’s not something that I’m gonna argue against. Like, okay, be aware and it’s not fair. I’m not saying that, but be aware that you’re drawing more attention. So you’re, you’re not being the zebra among zebras, the flashy jewelry, expensive watches, whatever it may be.
Those things are gonna draw attention. And is that really what you want?
Doug: We had.
Kelly: want to be dealing with this while you’re on vacation? No. So,
Doug: exact scenario happened with us, with one of our clients in North Africa who was highly insistent that she did not need to cover her head, did not need to cover her shoulders, even [00:35:00] as we were walking through a fairly conservative, part of a fairly liberal, but still Muslim country, and, and she just thought that the, the local men.
Needed to get themselves under control and, and it wasn’t her problem. And it, began to escalate and cause a few problems for a nber of us until we were able to get her out of the area where , things were gonna go south. And as all rooted in her ego about, being able to be who she was wherever she was, because she was enlightened.
Kelly: Right, and that’s where E Ego has no place when it comes to personal safety. Like in my opinion,
Doug: And I can often be counterproductive to personal safety.
Kelly: Yes. So that’s kind of like while you’re traveling on the street. But I do love in your guide, you pulled out bars and restaurants beyond the typical things of looking for the doors, looking for exits, being aware of, of people maybe getting really intoxicated or, [00:36:00] , even witnessing fights, like don’t stick around to see what happens like that.
Get to safety. But are there other things? While you’re there in your de at your destination, on your vacation, wherever it may be that, Ron, that you think, Hey, people
Ron: So, it’s funny you say this, I was on a family vacation on a cruise, and we were at one of the destinations and, my son and my nephew, they’re, they’re of legal age and, and we were out and doing the usual tourist thing, going to the usual tourist bar that’s right near the cruise line. And, Doug, Doug, you’ll appreciate this term, they were being honey potted.
, and , so they were basically being fed drinks. And they came back to me and said, Hey, we’re gonna go to a private party. And I said, no, you’re not gonna go to a private party because you’re gonna get robbed if you go to a private party. And, I I, I left them on their own at, at one point because they were insistent on going and then they finally [00:37:00] came back to the cruise ship and they said, yeah, we didn’t go because we didn’t feel comfortable.
I said, see, I told you, what was happening and I knew what was gonna happen and you made the right decision. But it, it, so to the point I’m trying to make by that is, be aware of yourself. your, your, your alcohol intake. You definitely don’t want to overdo it. You’re already as a tourist to target.
, there are people within those drinking establishments that are just looking to take advantage of the, especially tourist, areas where cruise lines come in and, they, they’re looking to take your money. and they will do it one way or the other. If you, if you get a little intoxicated and there’s, there’s a chance you could actually, Get hurt, if you will, if you ended up going to one of these places.
, so, but have a good time.
Doug: If you.
Ron: Go ahead.
Doug: you normally attract sixes or eights or sixes or sevens at home and all of a sudden overseas you’re attacking nines and tens, something may [00:38:00] be off.
Kelly: and, and just, I love this a you guys need to, one of you, you can do paper, rock, scissors for who, talk about what is honey pot. I know what it is, but what does it mean? What is, what is. A honey pot and B, I like talking about this because so often we worry about our daughters traveling, right? I have two sons.
This is something that I would need to talk to you about. My sons, and I love the way you put it, Doug. If you’re normally attracting six or sevens and all of a sudden the 10 is like bee lying for you. I’m not trying to crush your ego son, but get curious as to why.
Doug: , yeah. So I mean, a simple definition for honeypot is, either a criminal or an intelligence organization that uses someone of, An attractive or sexually oriented nature to draw somebody in and ultimately put them in a compromising position, right? So using sex to get somebody off their guard, [00:39:00] , and, and then have them where they want ’em.
And an example I use, when I provide training on. Travel security is a business traveler who in the Philippines, woke up in his hotel room after ha. The last thing he remembered was having drinks with a woman at the bar and agreeing to go upstairs and he woke up in the hotel room. No towels, no sheets, no pillows, no luggage, no clothing, no passport, no money, no nothing.
, and, and just because he, he met the wrong person at the bar and allowed himself to make a series of probably escalating poor judgment calls as a result.
Kelly: Maybe is this a good time for you to talk again about the rule of stupids? I know we’ve mentioned it in PA past episodes, but I think it’s a good rule, Doug, so I think you should share it again, especially in this context.
Doug: simplistically, it’s don’t do stupid shit with stupid people at stupid places at stupid times of the day or night. And, and again, any one of those things we can often [00:40:00] get away with, but as you, as you add different violations of the stupids, your risk goes up, es , astronomically or of something catastrophic happening.
And so we can all be in a stupid place, but when we do it at a stupid time, Now your risk is higher, and when you add into it doing something stupid like overindulging on alcohol, et cetera, it, it begins to acculate risk and therefore is a bad call
Kelly: It’s compound risk.
Doug: compound risk.
Kelly: you go. I know we’re getting close here to our end time. I did, any mis miscellaneous travel I. tips. I know one thing, big one for me. Wait to share your travel picks until after you’ve gotten home. Like that’s a big thing and or don’t. I’ve seen this a couple times. Don’t post your countdown to your vacation.
Like I have a countdown till my vacation that’s on my phone. That’s personal to me, ? But I’m not [00:41:00] sharing about like, Ooh, can’t wait till 89 days to go, or five days to go, and then I’m gonna be gone for a week. Here’s pictures of my resort, and it’s not so much then people will know that you’re a resort.
It’s that you’re not home. That’s the thing. So that to me is always wait until you get home to
Ron: Well, to that point, Kelly too, it’s, it’s, and Doug, I think you’ll agree with me on this. It’s not hard to establish a pattern of life on somebody, if they’re posting everything on social media. And, so my recommendation, like you just said, Kelly, post all your pictures after you get home. because a lot of these social media apps, Allow me to see other people that are on apps close within my PR proximity.
And just from looking at the photos, I can kind of put together who’s who in the zoo and kind of put together, oh, that’s that person right over there. She just posted this. She’s having coffee at this bar. So, at this, at this cafe, So I would highly recommend stay off social media while you’re traveling abroad.
Like [00:42:00] you said, don’t give a countdown to your trip. That’s telling people back home that you’re traveling, that you, that you’re gonna be leaving your house unattended and whatnot. so I, I think that’s a great tip. about the, the whole social media thing.
Doug: I wanna ask you, Ron, what, what are your thoughts on, improvised tools while traveling? Right. So we, we may have listeners who are used to carrying pepper spray, or,
Kelly: Knives edged weapons,
Doug: or firearms or whatever. And, and obviously, they can’t, you can’t cross borders with most of those things.
In fact, internally in the states, you can’t cross borders with some of those things. And, but, but you, you don’t have to be defenseless when you go,
Ron: I, I really like. The subject you just brought up, Doug, because in the nineties we created this whole women’s self-defense program using nothing but improvised items in the kitchen, in the home, right? So something as simple as [00:43:00] a heavy object in a sock. Creates a great swinging tool, right? , something as simple as a hairspray or some type of perfe makes a great pep.
, it might not be as effective as OC or pepper spray, but it’s sure enough to probably get them to close their eyes. You can probably get a good strike on them and then you can create time and space to get away. really thinking outside the box and being creative. With what you have in your hotel room that you can take along with you that are not illegal items.
, whether it be anything blunt or sharp. But again, you gotta be able to, you gotta know what you’re gonna do with that. You gotta know how to, you, you have to have done some training, have to have done some preparation, and you may never have to take it outta your pocketbook or your, or your, or your bag.
But be prepared to, to use that if need be, ?
Doug: I bet your doll, your, college age daughter carries a Stanley
Ron: , she, she’s married now with three kids, so she’s pretty much at home. [00:44:00] but yeah, she,
Ron: she was, she was raised, the way that, she knew how to, let’s just say improvise if need be to protect herself, for sure. Yeah.
Kelly: Wait, what’s a Stanley Cup? I gotta
Doug: just, it’s a big heavy metal, metal, water bottle that a lot of, college campuses have all over them. But that, that, a water bottle especially when attached to,
Doug: carabiner can be a pretty handy combination
Ron: That’s a great tool right there.
Doug: and it will get through security. And, and by the way, the carabiner by itself can be useful.
In a, in a nber of, of ways as well. And all of those will get through, security with almost No, no. Look at ’em. So there are ways to think about it, but you’re right. You need to have some training and as important, you have to have the awareness to know when to use it and the will to be able to use it.
Ron: And I think some of the other, some of the other things we’ve kind of overlooked since we were talking about devices, communic, what we need to be able to move and shoot [00:45:00] and communicate right within the, within the communities I work in. So being able to communicate is one of the nber one things. So a lot of people overlook how am I gonna communicate while I’m overseas?
Because a lot of their communication devices may or may not work overseas. in my case, when I travel, I have. Several different types of phones for several different types of the areas of the world that I bring with me. I’ll get a sim card wherever I’m going and , and then I’ll communicate using that.
To that point, I also don’t usually communicate on an open network. Doug, I don’t know if you’ve ever used the Sapphire wifi Ps but, we use the Sapphire wifi pox and I, it’s, it’s, it’s. For me, it’s, it’s as closed communication as possible using an app such as Signal, signal app, and, that, it’s an encrypted app to where I can speak.
So, Via telephone or face chat or, or text messaging without actually having to connect to a [00:46:00] wifi network at the hotel or at the airport, or anywhere else. So that, that’s how I communicate. And that’s one of the, for a couple hundred dollars you can invest in, a wifi p that you can communicate with.
So you’re not connecting to an open network. And is it as secure? I mean, Doug, you, this better than I do. If somebody wants to hack into it, they’re gonna get into it. But, it’s, it’s, it’s a little more secure than just hooking up to the, the wifi at the hotel.
Doug: It’s layers. We’re talking about layers in
Doug: deciding what’s the right layer for, for you. and, and yeah, like you, I have multiple, backup phones that they sit in a drawer until I need to go overseas, and you can easily swap out a sim card in them. You might even have somebody who, buys the sim card for you.
, so that it’s, but, but that follow the laws wherever you’re going,
Kelly: This is, this is, I feel like another whole, we could talk about gadgets, [00:47:00] , or in regard, not necessarily self-defense tools. I. But some of these other items that you were talking about, because these are great gifts, these are great. everyone’s always like, oh, I don’t know what to get this person.
Do they love travel? Here’s some ideas. So, these are the type of things I feel like doesn’t get shared at a civilian level. Hardly at all ever talked about. The only reason why I’ve I’ve ever heard of these things is because of knowing individuals like you two. So
Kelly: can we bring this up more?
Doug: may draw attention to you.
Kelly: Well, but that’s, but that’s the thing though, is we need to have these discussions. It’s up to individuals like our listeners, Hey, we’re not recommending products, but if you have concerns, at least, Hey, I never thought about that. I’m gonna do some research. And then it’s up to you. It’s up to each individual to figure out what works for
Ron: Doug will tell you this, I, if you’re traveling with six different cell phones and two different laptops and you’re [00:48:00] especially traveling through the uk, you’re gonna get pulled aside and they’re gonna want to know what you’re doing. so why you have so many phones and whatnot, so,
Doug: And by the way, your, your ability to say no, you can’t look at my phone, may be impinged in certain environments unlike here. So be aware again that there’s loss. So I think, to bring us back to kind of the start and, and, and wrap it up is, your trip will be better, safer, and more fun if you do the work upfront to prepare.
Right. You, you do the work to learn the environment you’re going into learn the pitfalls of what you’re going to thinking through your, your ability to respond or react to those things, right? And, and to set yourself up for success before traveling.
Kelly: Yep. Ron, do you have any like
Ron: Yeah, I think, I think again, bringing it back to the beginning, right? Preparation or failing to plan is planning to fail, right? So register with the step program, the Department of State, when you’re traveling [00:49:00] abroad, make a copy of your passport. Make a copy of your itinerary so people back home know where you’re going.
They have a timeline where you’re going, and they know when you should hit the ground and, and it. I, I, I really do promote this setting up linkup times, meaning I’m gonna call you when I hit the ground so where I’m at, and, and make daily phone calls. Let people back home know what your plans are.
And I really liked what you wrote in the book, Kelly, about writing a journal, because if something were to happen, And if that journal is a docent that’s left behind or that someone finds, an investigator finds, there’s gonna be a timeline that they’re gonna have a good headstart that they’re gonna need as an investigator to, to take any actions.
But, just double tap what Doug said. Planning your trip, and doing your pre-planning of where you’re going, your research. The hotel, does the hotel have a security staff? Does it have a 24 [00:50:00] hour, security, do they have a 24 hour desk? , do they have lighting in the, you can find all this stuff ahead of time so you can plan, Hey, what, I do need to, I need, do, need to have a flashlight with me.
I do. I, I always recommend traveling with a flashlight, but some people don’t, ? , so.
Kelly: Right. No, and and for me, because again, to our earlier point, hi Kara. We’re just finishing up quick. Do you mind logging off and coming back in in a little bit? Thank you. oh, wait till Kara goes off there. Okay. To our earlier point, this is a new environment and then my dog starts barking.
Doug: Hi, Leo.
Kelly: Leonis stop. He’s like, no, mom, the mailman. Okay. Maybe, maybe. Okay, I’ll, I’ll try this, Jessie. I’ll [00:51:00] close my point and then we can hang up. And to our earlier point, this is a new environment, so always trust your gut. If something feels off with a person’s behaviors with the environment, trust it. Trust it. Get to safety. Your safety is more important than anything. So with that, thank you to all of our listeners. We’ll have links to follow Ron to to connect with Ron to reach out to Ron if you have any specific questions for him. In the episode key, so make sure to go to the Diamond arrow group.com/podcast and download that episode key. Ron, thank you so much for taking time today to join us.
I appreciate you and , Doug as well for sharing that Travelers’ Guide. It’s great. We’ll include that in the episode link so people can get that before their next trip. So to everyone out there, thank you to our listeners for each and every download. We appreciate it. Make sure you leave a review and stay sharp.