PODCAST-In January, Bri Hansen co-produced a documentary for an international non-profit that nearly escaped disaster on more than one occasion. In this riveting and fun interview with The Safety Doc, she shares edge-of-your seat accounts with danger and how specific planning informs safe traveling on foreign grounds.
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Bri Hansen is a twenty-something year old frequent international traveler since age 11, including over a dozen trips to Haiti. She’s explored France, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Jamaica as well as most of the 50 states.
THE MOTORCYCLE INCIDENT
While filming on a documentary in Haiti, a man riding a motorcycle approached Bri’s crew upset and claiming that light reflecting from equipment momentarily blinded him. He sought some sort of compensation for his alleged near-accident experience. What the man claimed to be a reflector was actually a 2-foot-wide light blocker. Bri shared that such matters can be resolved by pretending to include someone in a scene, a small payoff or else standing firm that no wrongdoing occurred and wait for the man to leave. She noted that “bribes” are a practice in some countries, but also can open the door to then being targeted by extortion by others.
FIND A NATIVE GUIDE
Bri found that efficiency in navigating areas, as well as personal safety, is increased by having locals as friends and paying them to be guides if needed.
David’s eyes opened wide as Bri recalled being stuck at the airport in a confined room – machine gun and a desk, upon arrival because she hadn’t completed the location section on her Custom Form. She also shared that a mob mentality manifested amongst a group yelling and rioting at the same time she was handing out humanitarian supplies in the midst of a de-stabilized local government setting. Of course, know your body and when to rest. Food poisoning, worms and dehydration too their tool on Bri while in Haiti. By the way, breaking up a bar fight in Chinacatas, Mexico might have been unnecessarily placing one in harm’s way.
PREPARATION & TIPS
Bri plans a detailed itinerary and gives a copy to someone at home. A quick call alerting your credit card company of your travel locations and dates can prevent a declined card. Traveler’s insurance is certainly worth the low premium and strongly endorsed by Bri. Countries also have entrance and exit fees – so have the requisite cash ready! Know your conversions! Bri prints a little cheat sheet and keeps it in her wallet. She advocates the use of Google Maps and taking screen shot of your maps and turning off your data when you leave WIFI. Take a photo of hike trails, not ideal, because phones die, but maps get wet, and it gets dark. Better to have 2. Guidebooks with maps. She prints Google maps out with her itinerary.
RECONNAISSANCE & AVOIDING CONFLICT
Bri urges travelers to visit travel.state.gov to learn about visa requirements, local laws, customs, medical care, warnings and alerts in new destinations. In addition, consider the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and contacting the local embassy to make them aware of your presence in the country. Finally, the CDC can offer recommended vaccinations depending upon your travel plans.
THINGS YOU LEARN AS YOU TRAVEL
Bri encourages making friends on the airplane and that “joining” a group might make it easier to get through customs compared to presenting as a solo traveler. Don’t make eye contact and don’t be flashy. Ask permission before taking photos and be mindful of brandishing electronic equipment and jewelry. FLIRTING. Bri revealed that she is proposed to on every trip, either by someone she drove past or had just known a few days. Be friendly, but also know that charm can be misinterpreted – so don’t go around breaking people’s hearts (smile).
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