Why You Should Arrive Before Dark

Did your parents tell you that nothing good ever happens after midnight? Well when traveling the same holds true for when you arrive after dark. Depending on where you’re traveling to and where your accommodations are arranged will determine if arriving after dark is only a minor inconvenience or a complete disaster.

This can range from having to call a number and deal with a disgruntled night manager that you just woke up, on up to being stuck out side until business hours with no place to stay.

Now for those of us with experience out side in the dark, this may not sound like a complete disaster, however for someone who has never spent time out side in the dark in addition to the anxiety and adrenaline of being in a new place, not knowing how safe you are, being locked out of where your supposed to be and out of a perceived place of security, as well as most peoples inherent fear of the dark. It’s a very frightening situation and can lead to state of panic, more so if you are alone.

The general concern for most people in just about any destination is as the days turn to night less people are on the streets if you need help and the few that are you may not want to interact with. While this can be true, It could be argued that you are just as likely to be made a victim during the day because the criminals and predators have more opportunities to choose from because there is more people on the streets.

In less developed countries or if your destination is a smaller city/town/village, The Hotels and hostels may or may not allow you to check in after hours or even let you in the building. This is usually done in an attempt to prevent crime against the hotel or its employees and patrons.

These are policies that you should find out about and know before departing so that you can either arrange an exception to their policy or make alternative arrangements for the first night to allow you to arrive at your final destination during the day light hours.

Stages of Collapse


When your traveling especially to developing countries it is important to know the general state of affairs in the country your headed too. It is a good idea to start following the news for the area a week or two prior to your arrival. Generally speaking, it could be argued that all countries world wide in one of these stages of collapse in one way or another. Some start collapsing almost as soon as they were created.

If you read through history you can start to see a pattern of behavior that leads to the eventual collapse of a nation/empire as well as the different stages of collapse that follow. These stages of collapse that follow is what we are going to focus on, they are not exact and may happen in different orders or skip stages entirely as the world is not a linear place.

These stages can range from creating minor inconveniences and altercations to complete collapse and war in the streets. If possible you should find out what the situation is like before traveling to your destination however some of the information you may not be able to find reliably until you’re there to witness it first hand.

Stage 1

This is barely a level of collapse but everything has to start somewhere. At this stage you could see minor political disputes between different group/party members, however people tend to leave it at the polls. You might have a heated discussion here or there but no one is disowning anyone over their views yet. At the government level you are likely to see some political grid lock and certain policies that parties are polar opposites on.

You are not going to see any real refugee issues, At this stage people who can, may move from where they are at to a location that more aligns with their views and those who cannot may casually look for other living options.

Stage 2

On the low end of stage 2 people may steal each others candidate/party signs, workplace disputes over politics may begin to happen, minor localized voter intimidation and unrest/protest/riots may occur depending on the location, how free or authoritarian the country is and, how contested the environment is.

At this stage, due to the above people who can will start fleeing the major cities and/or locations that don’t match their politics or points of view and those who cant but want to are actively looking for away to get out. Most people will still likely have a plan for when they get where they are going before they leave.

On the high end of stage two you may see large scale and wide spread riots, extremest groups may commit attacks such as bombings, assassinations, and other overt direct actions. In more authoritarian/dictatorial states uprisings may start to occur and freedom fighter/rebel organizations start to emerge. Covert financial support from foreign governments and outside groups may be taking place but you likely wont be able to tell unless your in the groups. (generally stage 2 consists of events and situations that can be handled by local law enforcement/national guard type units if they are available in that country) The military may also be used if they double as the police force in the given country.

Depending on the severity of the above events the refugees from high end stage 2 could be coming out with anything from what they can pack in their car (or a moving truck if they can still find them) down to nothing but the clothes on their back. They are leaving the city without a plan in most cases unless it was put in place prior, they just need/want to get out before its too late. You are seeing this in some regions of the United States right now as people become more desperate to flee certain cities or states. Those in this category have taken over many campgrounds and RV parks in the areas they want to move to until they can find a place to rent/buy. A lot of countries are this way today and you may find yourself traveling to or through them with little issues out side of specific regions.

Stage 3

This is generally when you start seeing the first signs of the government starting to loosing control. It will start with certain sections of their country and slowly spread as their resources get more strained. Guerrilla warfare/insurgencies may begin to take place. A good similarity to this is the wild west. The US government had the land and the government but they dint have the resources to keep control of all of it and the citizens in the west were for the most part on their own. Events in this stage could be as formal as states/cities, territories seceding from the home country or non governmental factions taking over control of a region, for instance the different cartels in Mexico and other countries or terrorist groups in Afghanistan. You may also start seeing foreign combatants showing up. This could be “unofficially” as advisors, or conducting covert direct action, but still in a less than overt capacity. Militias may be formed or forming as a defense for local neighborhoods, towns cities, villages etc. as the local law enforcement or government forces become unable to help and Gangs and criminal organizations operate more blatantly due to less fear of getting caught. Any refugees at this stage are likely coming out with nothing but the clothes on their back and have no plan for their life once they get out of the area.

Stage 4

Uniformed armies may be present, (Think Civil war). This could be the government army trying to squash an uprising or two factions fighting it out for control. There could also be international peacekeeping forces there as well as other relief efforts, and likely covert and minor overt operations taking place with international forces. Refugees have likely stopped at this point either because there is no one left to flee they have been stopped by force, or who is left has decided to stay and fight.

Stage 5

This is a war zone and if it hasn’t completely collapsed already it will soon, you will in all likelihood be seeing blatant and overt support from foreign governments. This will consist of financial support, possibly weapons and most likely other supply drops. You may see large uniformed forces either from the local country or international forces. Depending on the situation there will likely be covert or special operations from a range of countries taking place in one way or another.

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How to Confirm Your Contacts Identity

Confirming the Identity of your contact is important when making a meet. An obvious way to do this is to check their ID. However if you’re wanting to conduct business anonymously, operating in a region that has no ID or you want further assurance that who you’re talking to is actually who you set the meet up with or someone sent by them, there is some other basic tactics you can use.

The Physical Object

This could be telling them to wear a certain color shirt, tie, etc. or to bring a certain book, or other specific physical object. An additional layer of protection can be to tell them to wear/carry the item in certain way. You can also use this tactic and offer up the information if your meeting a client/customer blind and you want them to know how to ID you or put them at ease that they are talking to the right person. (Letting them know you will be wearing a black suit with a red tie and sitting by the window for example)

The Torn Image

For this tactic you tear a card (or other unique image) and send them half. Then when you meet, you compare the two halves and if the tears do not match, you know the person you are talking to is not who you sent the piece to. Playing cards work well for this especially if you can find a more unique deck. Grabbing a generic blue or red Bicycle deck from Walmart is not the best way to go about it. The more unique the Image/card your using and the more drastic/unique the tear you can make the better.

The Behavior

Another option you see in crime and spy movies a lot is to make them conduct some specific behavior. This can be anything from requesting a special table from the hostess or ordering a special drink or food. This tactic requires you either sit where you can hear/ see the orders or behavior or having a partner or cut out do it for you. The latter is recommended for an added layer of security. You can also attempt to enlist the hostess/ waiter/waitress in this roll for an extra tip. As long as you don’t look suspicious and make what they are to ask for not seem to weird then they shouldn’t be to hesitant to help out if you make it worth their while.

The Challenge and Passphrase

Another option is the challenge and pass phrase. When you set up the meet you designate a challenge phrase that you/them will say and a response phrase for them/you to say back. This method is easy to use and is recommended when setting up any transportation in locations that are more dangerous or known for kidnapping.

Setting Up Your Transportation

When you set up the car/transport ahead of your arrival you would work out a challenge and phrase with the driver or company so that you have a way to confirm the driver is an actual driver. If you are a celebrity, a well know business person or other targeted individual It is also recommended to work out a pseudonym last name for them to put on the card they hold up.
Criminal organization will often work the arrival pick up area and google the names on the cards held by drivers waiting for arriving visitors. If any of the names pop as wealthy or influential they will either scare off or pay off the driver to get lost and take their place. This allows you a way to have a better idea if the person your talking to is an actual driver and not someone who is going to take you hostage.

The Art of the Lift

What is a pickpocket? The dictionary merely states that it is a thief who steals from pockets. While this definition is technically true, A pickpocket isn’t just a thief who steals from a pocket, a pickpocket is a master in the art of diversion. Picking a pocket is called a “Lift”

The art of the lift (picking Pockets) is a skill that is worth discussing. I will state now that Pick pocketing IS ILLEGAL! However knowing how criminals do there thing is one of the best ways to defend your self from them as well. Also lift   some other illegal acts if done in an emergency they can be justified you just have to work it out in court or with the police.

The lift

Now that that is out of the way, A lift is a task of not only skill and stealth, but of DIVERSION. You don’t need to have fast hands (although it helps) as long as the mark’s mind is on something else. The human mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and its attention is easily diverted. If someone is thinking about something else, then their minds wont be on their pockets, purse, etc…and whose hands are in them. Those who have seen the movie focus will know this explanation.


The human mind can be distracted easily

To prove this here is a simple test: count to yourself OUT Loud to ten but when you get to 5 THINK the word “batman”. Could you think and count at the same time?

No, it doesn’t work like that. The human mind can only focus on one thing at a time, so if you bump into someone they will feel that and not you slipping their wallet out of their pocket or purse.

The over all goal of a lift is to take a wallet or other item off a person without them knowing. This skill can also be used to place something onto a person if that is needed as well. Oceans Eleven has a great scene that shows examples of both taking and placing an item. A partner or a team is best for this sort of thing as it allows other to create the distraction and you can focus solely on the lift, but working solo is possible as well. The movie Focus also has a great scene of pick pocketing as a team. All of this pick pocketing is ILLEGAL in done in real life and for example purposes only. ( I find it crazy I need to write that)

Remember to be stealthy and blend in. The 13th Moscow rule applies here, “Lull them into a sense of complacency.” People will be on guard and might remember you or be more aware if you act oddly. Keeping the lift out of sight is vital for success. Be careful, even if the mark feels or sees nothing someone else might.

A lift could be used to gather intel, acquire a quick change disguise item, or maybe the key to the room the kidnappers are holding you in allowing you the opportunity to escape.


Restaurants are fertile grounds for pick pockets because dinners hang jackets or bags over the back of their chairs or on the floor.(possible quick change disguises.) But an opportunity can present it self anywhere.

The stereotypical pick pocket you have probably seen is the Bump and Lift. This is where the pick pocket bumps into the target and lifts the wallet during the impact and apologizes as he passes by and leaves.

The key is to time the lift to be simultaneous with what ever the distraction is. This would be you lifting the keys to your cuffs, their phone, some other item for your escape off of your kidnapper while he is distracted by muscling you into the van or your holding area.

We will cover more examples and techniques in future posts and in our news letter when it goes live.



Bribery When Traveling


This is not an avocation for Bribery, How ever out side of developed western countries, What we call bribery is much more prevalent, and often deeply routed in the culture of the country.

This should be looked into when doing your destination research so that you are not caught off guard when you are in country.

Often times it is not nefarious and seen as a fee for service in a country that is poorly funded and in some cases is not that expensive due to the exchange rate. In other cases it is a official or employee that is not trying to get rich and is trying to support their families.

This is often a moral issue with western travelers because they are raised in an environment where it is illegal, and looked down upon so heavily they wouldn’t consider doing it and struggle when the situation occurs over seas.

You need to understand that depending on where you’re traveling especially in less developed countries a “fee” or “Gift” may be required to things done. Consider it an incidental in most cases and chalk it up to cost of travel and to experience fully the country you’re visiting.

That being said it should be avoided when possible and no matter what your research turns up NEVER offer up a bribe. You don’t know how the person will react and its not worth the risk of going to jail in a foreign country. If it’s going to happen let them bring it up.

The cost of a bribe is going to be very dynamic. Its going to depend on country, city, who’s bribing you, and how many people are waiting behind you. The more people there are the cheaper the the bribe is likely to be because they can get more by demanding small amounts from a lot of people than having people refuse large amounts or walking away or causing more of a hassle.


This might not always come in the form of cash. One tactic that can keep you out of trouble is if your traveling with anything that might bring attention, unique gear, special equipment, or any other cool toys, bring extra if you can that you can give as “gifts” if someone shows increased interest in your gear at a check point.

Avoid pairs or groups of military or law enforcement when traveling. You wont likely be extorted for a bribe by. A lone officer as they have no back up if something doesn’t go their way. They will be more likely to demand a bribe if they are in a group where they can over power you if you refuse.

If they bring up a fee or a fine, this is a clue. Feign ignorance of the rules/laws and offer to pay the fine on the spot. Often this will be sufficient and they will offer up an amount.

This a prime example of why it’s important to always have cash on you, you can pay a bribe with a credit card. ( have heard some stories of having to pay with crypto recently but this is still likely an oddity at this point. Cash is still king.

This is also a reason to keep your cash in smaller amounts in multiple locations on your person so that you’re not pulling out all your cash at once. This way you can try to pay less by saying its all you have and if they take by force your not loosing all your money at once…..hopefully.





Juice Jacking

You have to be careful using your electronic devices in public especially when it comes to charging. Your probably wondering what possible threat there could be charging my devices in public. Believe me the threat is there.

Device charging cables especially tablet and phone cords can transmit data not just electricity to charge the battery. This is a huge security risk as more and more people store their financial and personal information, itineraries, medical records/data and everything damn near everything else on their phone.

This ability to transfer data means that when you plug into a public charging station there is the possibility that a third party could be harvesting data from your device or installing malware on to them.

The best thing you can do when you charge your phone in public is to make sure you plug into an outlet with your charger not directly into a USB port. This should eliminate the threat of data transfer via the charging cable. This is especially important if you are in a profession that tends to be highly targeted by hackers and criminals, or if you in a privileged position of a company and have access to more sensitive business information.

Another option that is available these days is a buffer of shorts that you plug you USB cable into before plugging it into the charging station. These are made generally to break the connection of the data terminals in the USB plug as well as alert you if data can be transferred by the plug your plugging into. (usually by a small LED light.) These can serve as a back up option if the location your at doesn’t have plain electrical outlets available. However I have not tested any of these first hand but they are on my list for the future.

A third option and currently the back up that I tend to lean towards is simply to have a back up battery pack with you. These devices are increasing in efficiently almost daily and getting smaller and smaller cause very little if any inconvenience to throw one in your bag when you travel to charge your phone if need be. The one I have is about the size of my cell phone in its case but allows me to charge my phone an additional 3 times. There are even those out there that store enough power to charge a laptop and are only about the size of paper back book.

The other main threat to data theft and malware in public is the WIFI. If you connect your phone or computer to a public wifi source this connects you to every device that is also connected to that wifi. This means that any device or user that is on that wifi can possibly access your device steal data, install malware and/or eavesdrop on your data traffic.

One defense to this threat is to not store any data on your actual device and keep it stored on an encrypted cloud service or server you can access remotely, although this is not always an option for most people. An alternative and/or additional defense is to use a trusted VPN. This will drastically limit the data traffic that can be eavesdropped upon by other users or the owner of the wifi. (see our trusted resources for our recommendations)

When paired with not keeping any data/files on your device, this means that there is nothing on the device for them to access, and you have drastically limited what traffic they can see, (they probably will be able to see that you are connected to a VPN but not much if anything beyond that. This however doesn’t completely eliminate the threat of them installing malware or other programs on your device.

This is done by firewalls installed directly onto your device. They can limit or eliminate outside connections to your device without your say so and alert you to attempts to connect to your device. This however is beyond the scope of this article and is something that we will cover in the future on its own.





Travel Caching

Caching is the pre-placement of mission essential supplies in concealed locations throughout the area your operating in for resupply or emergency situations. Caches are usually in either a secure location or concealed in some manner, some times both.

This is done extensively by government agencies and the military. Usually consisting of ammunition, food, water, medical, and other mission essential supplies. This is one of the reason that the military and government agencies establish bases or offices in multiple location through out their jurisdictions, and sometimes our side of their jurisdictions. This allows them to respond to emergencies faster by using the resources closest to the incident.

Caching also allows operators or operatives working in an area, to have access to supplies should they run out or encounter an emergency situation without having to return to base or if they are cut off from their home base.

Caching is also frequently talked about in the prepper community but usually consists of burying supplies for a long term survival scenario which is not always practical or apply to most people.

Travel caching however is becoming popular with people who travel a lot, especially those who travel to the same areas pretty regularly, and those who like to travel as lite as possible.

Travel Caching is great for those items that are specific or only needed for that area or that you often break, loose, or forget. This could be Coats/glove in a winter region, chargers, items that you have to replenish like toiletries or items you may not want to fly with such as pocket knives or other TSA restricted items.


First step is get the items to where you want to cache them. This could mean that you either fly with them once to get them there, purchase once you arrive, or send them ahead of time.

Then you need to find a place to store them securing once you leave. This could be leaving them in a bag at a friend’s or families house or your own property if you traveling to a vacation home. If you travel for business and you have an office space where you are going you might be able to leave them there. If your dedicated enough you can rent a self storage unit or if you can still find them a long term locker at airports or train station. These will cost you money and I do not know how available Long term lockers are any more as I haven’t seen one in years.

Caching can save you time and hassle or could possibly save your life depending on the situation. Either way this is a skill/habit you might want to consider taking up to make your travels and life easier and safer.

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Situational Awareness


The punch you don’t see coming is the one that puts you down.

The basis of good personal security is situational awareness. People have come up with many systems over the years to describe this but they all boil down to knowing what is going on around you. Cell phones and devices are the number one killer of situational awareness today. This means you have to put away your phone, or other devices and actually look at, listen to, feel, and interact with the world around you.

Personally I prefer to use the base line method to explain it to my clients. All it means is that you of learn and understand what the base line is for the area your in (what is normal) and then look for what stands out or rises above that base line. I use this method because it transitions easily to talking about being gray and blending in, except you yourself are trying not to rise above that baseline.

Now as with any new skill it takes practice to learn and do well but then after a while it becomes second nature This is going to be no different.


A good way to practice is people watching, next time your out to lunch or dinner instead of staring at your phone take look around. If your with your family or friends make a game out of it. How many people are on their phone, what are people wearing, where are they sitting, are there any large groups, who is arguing, who looks like they are having a good time. Notice their clothing, tattoos, and accessories. Observe any mannerisms and how they carry themselves. This gets you in the habit of paying attention to the information in the environment around you.

Take it a step further for a game and ask each other questions about them and try to guess the answers based on what you see. Hobbies, kind of vehicle they drive, stuff along those lines.

Now on to environment, a good place to start is to be aware of exits. Know how many there are, where they are, what could stop you from getting to them, whats your first choice whats your back up? Is there a window you could break to get out if you cant get to an exit? What would you use to break said window?

Now look to see if there is cover close by or just concealment. Cover in this sense is defined as a structure or piece of the environment around you that might stop projectiles. This could be anything from bullets to broken glass depending on the situation. (Hard surfaces like brick, rock, concrete or steel. Wood may only count in certain circumstances like flying glass. Concealment only offers you the ability to hide visually, wood walls, bushes, tinted glass etc. Most cover is concealment but not all concealment is cover.



Now we mentioned blending in before because we don’t want to draw too much attention to our selves in most instances and at this point you might be getting some looks from others who are more aware. When your looking around your probably moving around in your seat a little to much to get a better look around and probably borderline line staring at people. So the next step is not to be so obvious about it.

Start by sitting in your seat like you normally would, now what can you see with out moving? What can you see with only moving your eyes.?

Now back to the people themselves. The next natural progression for training is to study human behavior and body language. When you actually study human behavior instead of just going from your experience or guessing, you be able to more accurately. You will be able to more accurately judge whether the person you’re talking to whose arms are crossed is closed off or just cold, or more importantly if the guy walking towards you on the street is a true threat.

The best book I have found on the subject is The Ellipsis Manual by Chase Hughes. This book goes deeper than just body language but the first section on body language is extensive. It also goes into interacting with people, building rapport, psychological profiling and much more. To go with the book Chase Hughes has a training planner that you takes you week by week on how to teach your self the information in the book in a way that will stick with you.



Being able to spot weapons can literally be a life saver and is a good next step after learning body language to improving your situational awareness. Now just because you spot a weapon does not mean that person is a threat. Many people other than criminals carry weapons and you need to evaluate the entire situation and person. Almost all states allow concealed carry of a firearm and other weapons both with or with out a permit depending on the state.

Now we will start with firearms, the natural places that people tend to carry firearms are the waist, under the arms and the ankles. So these are the places you want to visually check first. Do you see bulges, are their cloths hanging weird in those areas, do you see something swing or poke out when they move? These may not be weapons but they should clue you into people you might want to pay more attention to.

Now beyond firearms there is a wide range of weapons that you could encounter in your day to day, or your travels but knives are widely carried in a variety of ways world wide. Knives may be harder to spot because they are easier to conceal due to their typically smaller size and lighter weight.

Now you need to understand that just about anything can be used as a weapon, not to mention a persons bare hands. make sure that you learn and pay attention to the body language of the individuals around you and watch for signs of aggression and other red flags.


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Blending in or Not Standing Out


When ever people first purposefully try to blend in they usual go over the top and end up standing out more than they did before. Not just with clothing but body language too when you try to hard at something you give off unconscious indicators that other people pick up on, body language starts to look unnatural.

This is because most posts and info I see on blending in or being the grayman seems to write it in a way that leads you to believe that dressing in this certain way makes you blend in everywhere. This is usually darker or natural colors, clothing without labels, and so on. We have all probably seen these people.

It all comes down to research and knowing your environment. As not every environment is the same one set of rules for dressing is not going to work. For example if your going to a football game dressed in a suit your likely to standout. Where as if you go dressed in a jersey your likely to blend in just fine provided its the correct jersey.

Now working within this understanding there is a place for clothing with out large logos or designs because it can make it harder for people to visually track you .

Blending in goes beyond just clothing, anything that could make you stand out form the baseline needs to be considered.

The Basics are


Most people wont think twice about wearing jewelry or even a nicer watch these days but when traveling it can make you a target for criminals. Depending on how nice the jewelry is this could get you pick pocket, mugged or make you a target for kidnapping if they think you are worth enough. Unless its absolutely necessary (it usually isn’t) I recommend leaving anything thats overly flashy at home or if you must take it with you don’t wear it when actually traveling.


In most of the USA tattoos are relatively common place. Not everyone has one but most wont think twice of seeing them provided they are not on your face. He rest of the world is a different story. They may not be common place and you could run the gambit from simply drawing minor attention from passers by from the novelty factor, to more harsh attention you don’t want to be on the receiving end of.

The type of tattoo is also something to consider, Among the top of the list for tattoos you should consider covering when traveling are military, religious, and patriotic tattoos. Depending on your country of origin and your destination this could easily get you either further questions at the airport, get you arrested for suspicion of being a spy, or targeted by criminals due to your religious affiliation.

If you need or want to cover them up

There are multiple ways to conceal tattoos. The method would depend on certain factors such as how closely you’ll be to the people your concealing them from, how long you’ll be that close, if you have to conceal them your whole trip or just for certain parts among others. So think it over before your on the plane.

The quickest method is wearing clothes that cover them, Depending on the tattoos location and your destination this may be adequate or completely uncomfortable (Long sleeves or pants in the tropics can be no fun).

Religious items

For the same reasons religious tattoos should be covered and jewelry should be left at home, religious items/and jewelry should be left at home as well. Unless from your research you know that its either accepted or not discriminated agains by majority of the population or government of your destination.

Hair and skin color

Skin color is pretty self explanatory as far as how it can make you stand out or blend in. So I am not going to go into to that because there is not a whole lot you can do about it anyway. Its one of the few factors that you cannot change and you will just have to roll with it and accept that some destinations you may stand out more.

Now just like skin color. Hair color can make you stand out, however with hair color there is a little more wiggle room as you can change it if you have to. When doing your research you will likely discover if your destination as a predominate hair color.


Now I am not talking about letting your hygiene slide because you are traveling, but cleanliness when traveling in certain parts of the world can make you stand out. Traveling in areas that are less developed, or when adventure traveling and your out in more rural areas, cleanliness will quickly stand you out. Luckily this can easily be rectified.

Speech, accents, manners and behaviors

If your traveling to a country that speaks a different language I highly recommend learning the language or at least learning the basics. There are times that you want to play dumb and act like you don’t speak the language but we will cover that another time. Learning the language wont make you blend in necessarily but it sure will make you stand out less.

You probably were told as a kid to mind your manners……well looking around maybe not every one was. Either way, what your parents might not have know is that manners change depending on where you are.

For example if you are eating in Europe and pick of the for with your right hand, This is sign to every one you are probably from out of town and specifically American.

Do Your Research

As you can probably tell there is a lot to know when trying to blend in or rather not stand out while traveling and you should be doing a lot of research before you go especially when traveling abroad.

The more you can research the more you’ll know going in and less that will surprise you. The surprised look is a dead giveaway that your new to what ever your experiencing. Do your research, see what you can do to blend in and act like you’ve been there before.

Using the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar for Travel Safety



     I love the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar, there are plenty of reviews out there that deep dive into the watch and its specs and features so I am going to focus on the watch from its travel and safety aspects and benefits.


     The obvious benefit is having a GPS attached to you in case of emergency. The GPS doesn’t require cell service from your phone should you become separated from it. The battery life is great for a smart watch and I get about 20 days on a charge on average.


     The big aspect for safety is a feature called Assistance. Assistance is going to be one of the few “safety apps” that I will recommend but only for a specific situation. Assistance works by having a hotkey set on the watch that when you press and hold it, will notify your emergency contact(s) that you designate in the Garmin app via SMS text that you are in trouble. When they are notified it will send them your GPS location as soon as your watch acquires the satellite connection.


     This will not help you in the moment and does not substitute the need for getting training in self defense, but should for instance you get taken it will give your contact the information needed for the authorities in the area that you are traveling in start the search. It will also allow them to track you as long as you can keep the watch on you.


     As you can probably tell this is going to require that you turn on the GPS access to your watch so that others can see it. This is called LiveTrack  in the Garmin platform. Now provided you set up your phone securely which will be covered in depth at a later date, you can set this up in a relatively private manner

that I will cover at the end to mitigate and data collection that Garmin may

do, though to this point from dealings with them and their policies I have seen no evidence of data collection done in a way that releases personal information. That being said I still make it a point to anonymize my data my self as much as possible.


     For this to work it does require that your phone have cell service as it needs to connect to the app to notify it to send the text message. The text message is sent from a third party number (not your own) This means that you should talk to your emergency contact ahead of time which you should be doing anyway.


     Setting it up requires that you opt in to the LiveTrack. This allows Garmin to send your GPS location to your emergency contact.



You will then need input a name and city/location inside the

assistance settings in the Garmin app. As you can see from my pictures, That can be an initial and just about anything for location.

The name is used in the text message to Identify you in the message to your contact and I have not been able to pinpoint what the location input is used for.



     You will then enter your emergency contacts, which can be a maximum of three who will all receive the emergency text should you press the button. As you can see you can also put as little as an initial to keep your Contacts privacy as protected as possible as well.


     The picture below is an example of what the text message will look like. In this case my watch didn’t have GPS on at the time but is activated when you press the button so when the GPS is acquired it will then send follow up text with your location information. You can see the text justs says “may need help” because of this you should talk to your contacts ahead of time and decide what it means if they get the message ad what they should do.



     You can opt out of LiveTrack at any time and it will shut off the assistance functionality.

My set up


     I always err on the side of privacy when I set up anything so I personally keep the LiveTrack functionality turned off 90 percent of time in my day to day life.

     I will turn on the LiveTrack and set up the assistance each time I am headed on a trip to an area that concerns me enough that I feel the functionality is warranted. I have ahead of time let my emergency contact(s) know that I am setting them up in the app.

     We then cover what it means if they get the message and what they should do. In my case I let them know that If I am going to activate the watch its most likely that I see something coming or that an incident has already happened. This is because if I don’t have time to activate the watch before something goes down I’m not going to waste time trying to activate it. I tell them they should wait 5 minutes and if I havn’t shut it off or contacted them directly to notify the authorities in the area I’m in or a specific number if I want them to contact someone specific.

     Then once I am back from the trip or feel it is no longer needed I will shut off the LiveTrack access to keep any unnecessary access to my GPS location to a minimum.



     Through out my testing I ran into no bugs or miss hap with activating the assistance, the only bug I encountered early on was One time I activated it I couldn’t get it to shut off and had to re set the watch and app. Not going to be a big deal if your wanting the assistance activated.


General Review



     If you are looking for a good review of the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar to look into its other features suck as activity tracking, Compass, and its other outdoor feature I personally used this review from DC Rainmaker https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/08/garmin-fenix6-pro-solar-series-review.html to make my decision.