While nothing can ever completely eliminate your risk of being kidnapped, there are ways to protect yourself against it. Here are a few top tips to avoid getting kidnapped.
For travellers going to any area with the risk of getting kidnapped, keep these things in mind:
1. Set up a system with someone back home
Leave a detailed itinerary of your overall trip with a trusted friend, relative, or colleague. Before your trip, inform someone you trust with information about where you are going, potential meet-ups, and when you expect to return. Don’t blab on social media. Stay in touch daily via direct and private means: SMS, voice mail, email, a one-cent money transfer.
2. Keep a low profile
There are many ways to avoid highlighting your attractiveness to a kidnapper. Downplaying your value begins at the airport. Blend in by wearing neutral, culturally-appropriate clothes and not flashing your foreign passport around.
Keep your kit simple. Skip the bling. People wearing expensive jewellery/carrying expensive luggage are easy targets.
3. Watch the booze
Shocker: the effects of alcohol can impair your judgment and make you less aware of your surroundings. Bars and restaurants frequented by expats get watched by spotters looking for potential victims. The intoxicated become targeted when they leave the premises, especially late at night. Use a buddy system when drinking.
4. Charge your mobile
Keep it charged, and switch the settings to a language you understand before you leave the hotel room. Have an external charger on you: how many times has your phone died unexpectedly in safe situations?
5. Avoid public transportation
This is especially true for women travelling alone. Instead, hire a car and driver from a reputable source or use an official taxi service to get from point A to point B. Don’t flag down a ride in the street.
6. Change things up
Avoid setting patterns. If possible, take different routes to frequently-visited locations, don’t travel at the same time of day, eat at different cafes and restaurants, and consider changing hotels a few times during your trip.
Due to fire safety regulations, most hotels have multiple entrances. Use them and switch them up often.
Get kidnap insurance. This insurance doesn’t pay your ransom. It pays for the people coordinating with local officials and your home-country for your safe return. Kidnap insurance isn’t cheap, but it will help if the worst happens. Tell only very trusted people you have it. Consult with the insurance company before your trip for specific ways to stay safe.
If the worst happens
If kidnapped, try to determine the kidnapper’s motive: rape, ransom, religious extremism, political leverage or something else?
Try to be aware of your surroundings. Are you in a city? The country? How long did it take for you to get there? Did you go up or down any hills? Smells? Sounds?
Chances are, the kidnappers are as nervous as you are. Do what they say, but don’t grovel. Try to get them to use your name. Try to use theirs.
Remember that you are not in control, but you can control your mind. Occupy it. Build a house in your head, recite the periodic table, anything to stave off boredom and despair.
For how to survive a kidnapping: https://www.battleface.com/blog/survive-a-kidnapping-kidnap-insurance/