Travel Safety and Paranoia

How to Pack

By Rick Sine

‘Whenever Barbara Brandt travels in her car she takes her Smith & Wesson,” chirps an article by ranking paranoiac Paxton Quigley.

The author of Armed and Female, Quigley teaches thousands of women how to shoot handguns in her seminars with the deadpan title “Women’s Empowerment in the ’90s.” Last but not least, she’s a flack for Smith & Wesson itself.

In April’s issue of Handguns Magazine, Quigley serves up a champagne-bucketful of hints on personal security away from home. Though not aimed exclusively at women, the liberal references to “rapists” make the audience clear: the increasing number of professonal women travelers. A few tips gleaned from Paxton’s lengthy treatment:

When you park at the hotel, make sure you’re giving your keys to an actual hotel employee, instead of a car thief posing as one. Don’t park in a hotel space that has your room number: thieves could track your comings and goings. And check in with a fake name.

Check to make sure that a burglar or rapist doesn’t get into the room posing as room service. (“Some have phony breakfasts for you, others don’t, but the result is the same. As soon as you open the door, he will rush in and overcome you.”)

A “Please Make Up This Room” sign on your door indicates you aren’t around and could invite thieves.

When you leave your room, leave on the light and the TV.

Watch for peepholes behind mirrors in the hotel health club.

When at a high-rise hotel, stay on the third to sixth floor. “The first and second floor are vulnerable to burglars and rapists. Floors above the sixth are not readily accessible to most fire equipment.”

“Be aware that people eavesdrop on airplanes and may target you as someone with valuable corporate information or ties to a wealthy company. Americans traveling overseas tend to be friendly and unintentionally give away personal or sensitive information.”

Don’t pack your pepper-spray canister in your luggage, because air pressure may cause it to leak and run out on your clothes. “If you’re flying, I suggest you buy a canister at your destination point, and if you don’t use it, give it to someone as a present when you leave.” (A delightful gift!)

We here at Metro have compiled a few tips of our own:

If you’re forced to walk alone at night through the city, we suggest posting snipers on the top of buildings along your path. The aerial view allows them to pick off burglars and rapists before they get anywhere near you.

Public bathrooms are notorious for their tendency to attract perverts, snoops and thieves. We suggest that you always hold out until you get to your hotel room, or–if all else fails–wear diapers during long trips.

Groucho glasses are always worth a pocket in your Samsonite. The growing employment of private eyes by spouses makes them especially useful during those romantic outings with your paramour. Like the pepper spray canisters, these also make a great parting gift when you leave for home.

Finally, remember that caution is the best defense. Just because the SWAT team has promised not to shoot, and just because the people on the megaphone say they’ll do their best to ensure your safety, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave the house unarmed.

MetroActive Goes Trippin’ . . .

Don’t Miss Saigon: Playing the Pacific Rim by bike requires stamina and good wheels.

Cruising Oblivion: Life aboard a cruise ship is a lesson in scheduling and snoozing.

On the Road: Traveling doesn’t have to mean planes and trains. Automobiles and thumbs can get you pretty far.

Southern Sunshine: Paradise found on Mexico’s tropical beaches.

Romancing the Romanesque: Scouring France in search Crusader ruins.

An Idiot’s Guide to the Universe: How to keep Europeans from thinking you’re completely hopeless.

Queer Across the World: Transcending homophobia in search of another buck.

Packing Heat: Paranoid or not, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for danger when you travel.

Virtual World: Armchair travelers can feed their wanderlust on the web.

From the April 25-May 1, 1996 issue of Metro

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&copy 1996 Metro Publishing and Virtual Valley, Inc.

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