I have had the privilege to travel a lot of different places both inside and outside of the U.S. Recently (yesterday) my parents left for a 3 1/2 week vacation in Rome and already i am getting SOS messages and phone calls.
Today i spent many hours canceling my fathers brand new android phone because he didn’t think it needed to be password protected… and he lost it at the baggage claim in a Roman Airport!
Tip 1. Password protect all of your electronic devises. Seriously in 2016 I didn’t think this conversation really needed to be had, but just in case please talk to your loved ones (especially the older ones) before they travel about doing this. We have had people charge thousands of dollars through credit card info that you may not know is actually stored on your phone and accessible to anyone operating it!
Another terrible thing that happens when an unauthorized person gets a hold of your phone is that they are able to reach out to all of your contacts. With this information the person is able to contact all of your loved ones (usually targeting the elderly ones) and making up a story of some sort to extort money from them.
Some stories that these people typically use;
- you have been in an accident and need money for medical care
- you have been incarcerated and need money for bail
- you have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom
Understand that the people who use these tactics to get money from your family members are well versed in what they are doing. They use excuses for you sounding different, saying things like you have a broken nose or jaw accounting for the difference, if they are not able to recall an answer to a specific questions about your life they will account for it by saying there was memory loss due to the trauma that you supposedly sustained.
All of these things are avoidable by locking your phone and securing all of your passwords, so take a few minuets today and set up a few!
Tip 2. Download translation apps!
While traveling in the Czech Republic I became disoriented and forgot how to get back to the Opera hall that i was supposed to be at. It had been in the “old city” portion of Prague surrounded by pedestrian walkways and every where I turned each street began to look the same. I ended up panicking and found the first actual street I could and hopped into a cab. I commissioned the cab driver to take me to the Opera hall, and he did… only it was the newest Opera hall in “new city” Prague. Needless to say I never found my way back to the original Opera hall.
I learned a valuable lesson through the experience, English is not spoken/ understood everywhere! This was before the time of the smart phone revolution, when all i had available were small pocket translation guides, with text so small you needed to carry a magnifying glass with you to read it.
Now we have access to apps like Google Translate and Google maps and i strongly suggest that you download them! Understand that the application is not without its glitches however when you find yourself in a foreign place, lost and not able to communicate with anyone they just might save your life.