There’s safety in zippers: My top picks for foiling pickpockets

“There’s safety in zippers: My top picks for foiling pickpockets”

by Christopher Elliott via “The Washington Post

Little things sometimes make a big difference when it comes to travel safety. Like a strategically placed zipper.

Consider what happened to Aaron McHugh, who was recently exploring Glasgow, Scotland, after the last leg of a sea kayaking trip with his brother. “We were not familiar with where sketchy parts of the city might be,” he remembers. But halfway through a 14-mile, self-guided tour, the duo found themselves in Springburn, a neighborhood with a reputation for drug crime. McHugh suddenly felt vulnerable. He clutched his credit cards, passport and cash and quickened his pace, hoping to make it to a safer area without incident.

That’s a familiar feeling to a lot of travelers, who are too often unprepared for threats to their safety. Just ask the professionals. In a recent survey of corporate travel managers — the executives who oversee companies’ travel departments — safety was ranked the top priority. The study, by European travel safety consultant BCD Travel, ranked security higher than efficiency, satisfaction and environmental and social impact.

Fortunately, McHugh, a podcaster who lives in Colorado Springs, had prepared by dressing the part. He wore a pair of pickpocket-deterrent pants developed by a company called Bluff Works ($93). His cards and important paperwork were shielded in a zippered internal pocket.

“That pocket gives me a lot more security and comfort than a pair of jeans or any other pant I own,” he says. As a decoy, he carried a messenger bag over his shoulder that he says screamed “Take me!” The Bluffs were his camouflage.

He made it through Springburn without incident.

I’ll be the first to admit it: Zippers don’t make for exciting reading. But isn’t that the point? From inconspicuous pants to ties that make your checked bag harder to break into, the gadgets that can keep you safer on the road are completely unremarkable — until you need them. If you’re traveling somewhere for adventure this summer, you’ll want to pack these accessories. . . . .”

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Bed bugs and summer travel: how to protect yourself

“Bed bugs and summer travel: how to protect yourself”

via “Ellwood City Register

Bed bugs and summer travel: how to protect yourself

When summer arrives, all you can think about is that vacation getaway, getting the kids off to camp and traveling to visit friends and family. You’re looking forward to spending some relaxing time away from your hectic everyday environment. Unfortunately, bed bugs feel the same way. They’re itching to get out and see the world just as much as you are.

Amazingly, 99.6 percent of professional pest management companies in the United States encountered a bed bug infestation in 2013, according to a survey conducted by Bugs Without Borders. Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers that can be picked up from hotels, motels, public transportation, rental homes and other public areas. You might think you’re safe at a five-star luxury hotel, but bed bugs don’t discriminate. Bed bugs can attach themselves to and be carried by any of your personal belongings, including luggage, clothing, computers and more.

Take steps to stay safe from bed bugs during the summer travel season. Use these tips as a checklist to make sure you’re protected before setting out to enjoy fun in the sun.

* Know the signs. Before you embark on your vacation, take some time to educate yourself on the signs of a bed bug infestation. These include tiny dark or red spots from a fresh bed bug feeding or a trampled bed bug. Although they are very small, bed bugs, their eggs and cast skins can be seen by the naked eye. They can usually be found hiding in tight, typically undisturbed and cramped spaces near the sleeping areas of a home. Additionally, unexplained bites on a person’s skin may be another sign of a bed bug outbreak. If the infestation is large, bed bugs will lurk in other areas outside the bedroom and you will likely smell a sickly sweet odor.

* Take preventive measures. If you’ve been traveling often, have a child in college or have had a previous bed bug infestation, it’s important to be proactive about prevention. Pack a flashlight in your suitcase to help you inspect your travel accommodations right when you arrive. Ask a pest professional to help you find a strategy that’s best for your family and home. If you travel often or feel you are at high risk for bed bugs, consider an active liner on your bed at home. Where other bedding products such as encasements solely attempt to trap bed bugs within or prevent them from migrating, an active liner kills bed bugs on contact and stops infestations before they establish. . . .

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Lawmakers Take Closer Look at Study Abroad

“Lawmakers Take Closer Look at Study Abroad”

by Haley Hansen via “Minnesota Daily

State leaders are urging Minnesota colleges and universities to publish safety records of study abroad programs, citing poor safety and the need for transparency between schools and the public.

While the University of Minnesota says it already does its best to ensure students’ safety, many agree the change is necessary and students and parents will benefit by having access to evaluate the risks in global areas.

“We have tremendous oversight over almost everything,” said the bill’s author, Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka. “But when it comes to sending students into other countries, we don’t have that oversight.

The University currently only reports incidents like deaths, accidents, illnesses and sexual assaults upon students’ requests. The proposal mandates that schools display the statistics online and report them to the Office of Higher Education. Without passing state-set marks, institutions would not be able to grant academic credit for the travel experiences.

Sheryl Hill founded the Clear Cause Foundation in 2011 to increase safety on study abroad trips after her son died in on a People to People Ambassador Program trip in Japan, and she strongly supports the bill.

“I think you have the right to know when you are escorted into a foreign country what the safety record is of the organization you are trusting your life and your future to,” Hill said.

Ann Hubbard, who works for the American Institute for Foreign Study, said she agrees with  . . . .

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