The secrets of travelling safely...

As Lloyd Figgins says, the rewards we can reap from exploring this amazing planet of ours are incalculable.


The trick is to do so safely, as Lloyd will explain when he joins the line-up at the Chichester Speakers Festival at the Assembly Room, Chichester City Council, North Street, Chichester ( The festival runs on March 23 and 24; Lloyd’s session is on Saturday, March 24 from 8.30-9.45pm, giving the audience a chance to pick up pre-publication copies of his book The Travel Survival Guide: Get Smart, Stay Safe

“There are more people travelling now than ever before. There are more than one billion people travelling from one country to another this year, and the important thing is to do so safely.” The danger is that we are prone to let our guard down when we go abroad: “I use the analogy that in this country when we get in a car or a taxi, we automatically put our seatbelt on, but when we go abroad we are much less likely to think of the risks. We are in festival mood. We are in holiday mood. This book is about recognising that travel is a fantastic thing to do, but also about recognising that there are lots of little things we can do to mitigate the risks and so travel safely.

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“I look at the main risks and the main fears… or rather threats rather than fears. The threats are the things that we have no control over, natural disaster, a health epidemic, political dangers. The risks are the things that we can control, like which airline, which hotel, which transport, which route. We control them because we have got a choice.

“I have always emerged intact, but there have been sometimes when everything hasn’t quite worked out as it could have done. I was involved in a vehicle accident in Cambodia. I had malaria in east Africa. I was targeted in a terrorist attack in Syria.”

But as Lloyd stresses, there is still so much you can do. The first chapter looks at aircraft safety. Where you sit in the plane really does matter if things go wrong, as Lloyd explains. The same is true on a bus. You don’t want to be at the back or the front of the bus for fear of rear-ending or head-on smashes; you want to be in the middle, in an aisle seat, away from the window and the danger the glass could pose. We should also apply similar logic when we travel by train.

It might be super-cautious to do so in the UK, but if you are on a bus in Bolivia, it could be a life-saver. In general, Lloyd also advocates tuning in to the absence of normal around us and also the presence of abnormal as we go for A to B. The tips sound obvious once you hear them, but not until you hear them. For instance, if you are alone and fear you are being followed, don’t panic because you can’t see a police station. As Lloyd urges, a bank or a jewellery shop is as good. Both will have security cameras; both will have security alarms; either will do.

Just go in and say what you think is happening.

Lloyd stresses it is not about being over-cautious: “It is just about thinking about the kinds of things that will give you a slight edge should anything happen…

Lloyd is a travel risk expert, author and speaker. He is a former police officer, soldier and expedition leader who has worked in more than 80 countries, including some of the world’s more hostile and remote regions. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an authority on the subject of travel risk and crisis management, he often provides commentary in the media and makes regular appearances on the BBC, Fox News, ITV and Sky News.

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