MAINTAINING A LOW PROFILE:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
© Copyright 2004. FrontierMEDEX
The following is intended as general information and some recommendations may not be appropriate for all situations. It is strongly recommended that you contact the proper department within your organization for specific policies, procedures, and/or advice.
Most travel security advice often contains the phrase, “Maintain a low profile.” Although this is a particular catchy phrase, many people do not know what it actually means. Primarily, “maintaining a low profile,” means to avoid drawing attention to yourself -- to blend in with your local surroundings as much as possible. Anonymity is a key component of personal security while traveling. The goal of every traveler should be to blend in with the local scene as best as possible. There are certain simple steps that travelers can take in order to minimize their profile.
First and foremost, it is important to pay attention to the way that you dress when traveling.
- Do not dress like a tourist regardless of whether you are traveling for business or pleasure. Unless you are visiting Hawaii or the Caribbean, leave your flowered “Hawaiian” shirts at home.
- Avoid wearing clothing with logos – Agilent or otherwise – while traveling. This includes items with large fashion brandings, country flags, city names, sports teams, etc.
- Baseball caps, while quite popular in the United States and Canada, are not common in most countries around the globe.
- Do not wear flashy jewelry, even if it is inexpensive or costume jewelry. Remove rings and tuck chains and necklaces under your shirt. If you are wearing a watch, you may wish to consider wearing a long-sleeve shirt to hide it from view.
If you are traversing a city on foot, you should walk with purpose.
- Do not “gawk” at buildings, people or landmarks.
- Avoid walking around with a map in your hand. Walking with a map not only immediately identifies you as a non-local, it also may encourage individuals to approach you (be it to provide assistance or to rob you).
- If you are carrying a camera, keep it out of sight. Locals rarely walk around with a camera around their necks.
In public places, you should be careful when engaging in conversations – you never know who might be eavesdropping.
- Avoid political conversations, especially when traveling in a foreign country.
- Try not to be critical of anything local. Even if you think a city is ugly or its people are rude, keep your comments to yourself until you return home.
- Avoid conversations regarding religion.
Be conscious of your actions at all times. Know some of the cultural “Do’s and Don’ts” of the location that you are visiting.
- Certain hand gestures may be perfectly normal in your home country, but may be viewed as offensive. One example is the “OK,” sign. In the United States it is a common and un-offensive gesture. In many countries, it is a vulgarity.
- If traveling with a spouse or significant other, know whether or not acts of affection are part of local norms. If public affection is frowned upon, avoid handholding and kissing in public.
Avoid getting involved in local affairs.
- Do not participate in protests or demonstrations. If you see a large gathering, go the other direction.
- Never pass out religious items or leaflets.
Travelers can significantly lower their vulnerability to potential threats by maintaining a low profile. If you lower your profile, you reduce the likelihood of drawing attention to yourself and in turn, lower the chances of becoming a victim. None of the aforementioned recommendations are particularly difficult or complicated. Nevertheless, such simple measures can go a long way in keeping you safe while traveling.