Travel Safer

How Les Stroud Changed the Way I Look at Travel Safety

Travel Safety

Travel SafetyWhat if…? No, really. What if?

Lately, it seems that more individuals are taking travel safety and personal accountability seriously when they head overseas for work, study, or vacation. If the industry is an indicator of what’s on the mind of individual travelers, then the appearance of apps like Sitata and TravelRecon are a good sign that travel safety is more and more in the hands of the individual. 

Let’s say that you have armed yourself with actionable travel intelligence and prepared in advance for the environment in which you will be traveling – excellent! However, there is something else you need to bring all this technology together, which brings me to Les Stroud

Les Stroud makes it easy to relate “survival” to any overseas situation. In his book, aptly titled Survive!, he opens with a family having vehicle issues, stuck in a winter storm. They are dressed for holiday dinner and forced to walk for miles in blizzard conditions. They head out, yet leave the interior of the vehicle untouched despite the fact that it contains massive amounts of fabric and cushioning that could have been used to protect their extremities from the eventual frostbite.

This scenario made me think of how one of the essential tools of travel safety fits so neatly with this idea: Awareness. 

Being aware is not only researching a country before you travel and understanding what is going on in a country and how locals may view your presence. It is more than looking around and paying attention to how your clothing or appearance may attract attention. Awareness is also assessing your immediate environment and evaluating what is around you in a different light.

In a dangerous or life-threatening event, you may have to evaluate the objects in your surroundings by unintended values and uses:

  • What IF… you are attacked while driving? Is your car just a means of conveyance, or is it a two-ton weapon that can drive through an aggressor pointing a gun, on sidewalks if necessary and continue for miles on a flat tire if you had to get to safety?
  • What IF… someone attacked your hotel? Would you hide behind a thin wooden door or go to the bathroom, which has metal pipes and wiring in the walls and offers far more protection?
  • What IF… an earthquake or explosion buries you under rubble? Would you yell or would you use your keys (or a rock) to tap on a metal pipe?

Travel is a risk, and that risk is part of the fun, part of the unknown. We will never eliminate all risk. That said, if you want to lower your travel risk, look at the world by what is possible, not by what was intended, keep your options open, and think more like Les Stroud.

J.C. Lightcap, Travel Safer | June 10, 2016

Photo by Ali Naqi via

Headshot-60x60JC Lightcap is a travel safety consultant, author and serial traveler. He provides business travelers, study abroad students and families with the tools to focus on their travel goals, raise their awareness overseas and come home safely. JC has been quoted in the Washington Post, featured in the Liberty Project and is a member of the International Ecotourism Society. He currently lives with his well-traveled wife and two dogs in Denver, Colorado where he snowboards, camps and hikes 14ers.

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