How Do I Know It Is Safe to Travel There? & Oh !@#$ I Lost My Passport!!!

by brian on October 15, 2009

I ran across this article from the UK, which lays out the murder rates of nations round the world per 100,000 people. Most of the data is from the 2004 calendar year.

I find it interesting because our perceptions of a country are usually colored by news reports and other media. Unfortunately many times that is all we have to go on, unless we’ve had a chance to personally visit every nation on Earth.

But do the murder rates match up with what we think they SHOULD be?

For instance, what country had a murder rate of 19.3 people per 100,000 citizens?

A) Ethiopia
B) Egypt
C) Somalia

Have your answer?
The answer below…

Some other notables

USA 6.7
Mexico 10.9
Australia 1.3
Japan 0.5
Russian Federation 29.7
Sudan 28.6
Haiti 5.3
Brazil 30.8
Jamaica 33.7
Puerto Rico 18.9

So how do you know if where you are going is safe? Should you take any special precautions?

Even better question: How do we know if the numbers are even accurate??

Probably the best thing to do when in doubt is to visit your State Department, at least that’s what we call it here in the States.


The travel advisories of any country usually are more conservative than anything else, so take them with a grain of salt. Your fellow travelers are probably your best resource for the current conditions in a country. I like to Google for recent reports. Your big travel hubs, like Lonely Planet and BootsNAll, are good places to start to find opinions from other travelers.
The answer is – Ethiopia.

Egypt 0.7
Somalia 3.3

I was stunned by that. How could Ethiopia have a higher murder rate than Somalia (3.3 per)? Or is that just my incorrect perception of Somalia? Hmmm…

This past week on the Amazing Race (US Edition), one member of a team lost his passport. They were the team that came in first place at the checkpoint, but because they didn’t have their travel documents they were eliminated from the race. What a horrible way to lose!

passport How Do I Know It Is Safe to Travel There? & Oh !@#$ I Lost My Passport!!!

I always say if I had to pick the lesser of two evils, it is better to lose your wallet than your passport. All of your credit cards and IDs can be replaced.

If you lose your passport, you can’t leave the country you’re in!

Do you know what to do if you lose your passport?

Well the important thing is what you do before you leave your home country.

Have a legible paper color copy of your picture and identification information page in your passport.

Scan your passport into a password protected document and send it to yourself in email. That way if the paper copy is lost or stolen, as long as you have Internet access you can get it.

In fact that is a good idea with all items in your wallet including the back and front of credit cards and driver licenses.

Finding your way to the embassy is your next task. This might be expedited if you registered with your embassy BEFORE you reached the destination country. The hardest part may not be getting to the embassy but the wait for a new passport, or temporary documents to get you out.

I didn’t do anything special to secure my passport. It was in my front hip pocket all the time as I traveled around the world. No fanny pack, no carrying bag strapped to my chest. Absolutely not in the back pocket or a backpack. I did not leave it in a hotel/hostel safe. Front pocket. Simple as that.

Any tips before you get to a country to figure out if it is safe? How else can you protect your passport? Ever lost your passport? Comment and share below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TJ October 16, 2009 at 7:44 AM

Good tips. I usually keep my passport in my money belt. My inclination is to put everything in my back or breast pockets (I don't know why)so I had to make an effort to keep my passport secure. I didn't lose it…..but I did manage to lose my carryon bag a couple of times. I got it back however!


brian October 16, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Breast pocket isn't bad. Back pocket is bad news. The thieves out there are pros. You won't feel a thing!

Since the carry-on can be lost, anything vital stays on my body. I've lost cell phones and an iPod that were in my carry-on. They fell out of the pockets of the carry-on.


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