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Tips for Avoiding Trouble in a Foreign Country

Tips for Avoiding Trouble in a Foreign Country

Getting out of a foreign country during a disaster can be a far-different experience than what you can expect on the home front.  You can end up facing a myriad of challenges that can make an otherwise simple process very complicated and time-consuming.  Let’s take a look at some things to consider if you end up getting caught up in a crisis abroad, so that you can have the best possible chance of getting out as quickly and safely as possible.

Situational Awareness

Language differences, cultural barriers, lack of emergency services and responsive police are all common things that travelers encounter on the best of days in some foreign countries.  Imagine the chaos and confusion that can ensue during a crisis.  It’s more important than ever to know your surroundings and have escape plans in place while you are abroad.  Know where your embassy is located and the fastest route to get there.  Know one or two routes to the airport or the border of a neighboring country.  Understand arterial roads and where they lead.  Evaluate the effectiveness of transportation systems, and become familiar with more than one option to use to get out of the area. 

The more you can become familiar with the basics will help you to make the best of choices based on the circumstances at hand.  Just remember, the trick is to avoid getting lost, getting caught up in the chaos or getting stuck in a dangerous situation with no real escape available.

Avoid Travel in Dangerous Times

The best way to avoid getting stuck abroad during a crisis is to stay away in the first place.  Don’t travel to areas that are prone to severe storms or flooding during the rainy season.  Avoid countries that are suffering from tense political instability or civil unrest.  Use your best judgment, but it may be more prudent to alter your plans and travel somewhere else if things are not as safe as usual at your favorite destination.

Flee to the Right Neighboring Country

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Neighboring countries are not like states here at home.  They have their own laws, culture and attitudes towards Americans.  The last thing that you need is to escape one crisis and land in another.  Do some research beforehand and choose escape countries that are safe and friendly.  Know how to get there.  Become familiar with visa procedures and other factors that can impact your ability to cross the border on short notice. 

Get out Early

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Say you’re facing an approaching hurricane or the government is about to collapse.  There are generally a lot of signs in advance that indicate what’s on the horizon.  Take these seriously, and consider getting out early, out of an abundance of caution.  We here stories every year about foreigners getting marooned in other countries in the wake of severe storms, flooding or political unrest.  What do they all have in common?  The waited too long and couldn’t get out in time.  It’s better to be first on the plane, train or bus to the border than to take your chances if and when the SHTF.  Get out early and don’t focus on the disappointment of cutting your trip short. 

While traveling overseas is a great way to work, live, study or spend a vacation, things can go from good to bad in the blink of an eye.  Foreigners are particularly vulnerable to crises, and it’s important to be over-cautious or paranoid instead of staying put and hoping for the best.  Remember, you can always go back once things settle down and return to normal.  However, you may not have that chance if you get swept up in the chaos and uncertainty associated with disasters abroad.  Only you can decide what the best choices are during any given situation, but chances are that you will be much better off and less likely to become a victim if you’re out of the area altogether.

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Tips on How to Move Silently through the Woods

Tips on How to Move Silently through the Woods

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The ability to move silently through the woods or backcountry is one of the most important skills to develop.  Treading carefully helps us to avoid attracting unwanted attention while minimizing the chances of scaring off prey as well.  The good news is that it’s not that difficult to learn how to move through the woods without making a sound.  The bad news is that it takes some practice and concentration to get the hang of things.  Here are a few tips that you can use for practicing as you develop this important skill.

Find Bare Ground

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The first thing to look for is bare spots on the ground or areas with damp grass.  This will minimize the chances of walking on and crunching leaves or cracking twigs as you take your steps.  Try to seek out well-worn trails, ridge lines areas that have thick, moist grass that can absorb sounds as you move. 

Using Body Weight

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When we walk, we’re not only using our feet, but we are also distributing and balancing our body weight as well.  How we are postured and how we position our feet as we take each step will greatly reduce the amount of noise that we make while walking.  For example, if you are walking on a rocky or gravelly surface, crouch down and take each step so that your heel hits the ground first.  Then, gently place the outside of your foot on the ground before rolling it out as you complete the step.  This will minimize the amount of rocks or debris that you disturb while helping you to control your balance as much as possible. 

Step by Step

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Another important technique is to look at the next step you will take before you move forward.  This will allow you to avoid accidentally placing your foot atop debris or objects that will make noise.  It will also help you to decide how to take your next step, whether to walk on your heel or toes as the case may be.  This is hard to explain, but once you’re in the field, it will be very easy to adapt your steps according to the surrounding terrain.  The trick is to be mindful of each step you take so you can choose how to move forward as quietly as possible.

Breathing

Believe it or not, a lot of people place a heavy-emphasis on our breathing as we walk, and for good reason.  Breathing through the nose while walking produces more noise than breathing through the mouth.  Controlling our breathing also forces us to take in the moment and be able to measure each step more carefully as well.  Finally, breathing also helps us to balance ourselves properly in order to minimize our noise footprint. 

What to do When Following Someone

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Aside from following the techniques described above, a key element of successfully following someone or something is to match their cadence.  Pace yourself so that your steps hit the ground at the same time as theirs.  This may seem simplistic and obvious, but it is a vital technique that escapes the minds of many.  However, being out of step with the target is one of the easiest ways to arouse suspicion, give away your position and create an unwanted response. 

These are just a couple of ideas to get you thinking more about how to walk stealthily in the woods.  However, there are dozens of different techniques out there that are worth learning about as well.  Mastery of this skill may take time, effort, patience and place some strain on different parts of the body as you re-learn habits and develop proficiency.  However, doing so will pay big dividends in the future if you’re in a situation where every step matters. 

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