International travel allows you to experience different cultures, but vacations that are meant to be carefree and fun pose some threats as well. Among these threats is the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking.
An estimated 5.5 million children are victims of human trafficking globally. Everyone, but especially young women, must stay alert when traveling abroad and make responsible, smart decisions to avoid falling victim to ruthless human traffickers. When traveling keep these tips in mind:
- Know the facts. Before you travel make sure you are informed about the prevalence of human trafficking. Find out information about who are most likely victims, what warning signs to look for, and what steps you can take if you find yourself in a precarious situation.
- Register with the local U.S. embassy. Know the address and telephone number of the embassy closest to where you are staying. Alert them of your travel plans and keep the contact information with you at all times. Find a full listing of U.S. embassies around the world here.
- Protect your passport: Do not give your passport to anyone to keep or hold on to. Make sure you keep a copy of your passport information in a safe place where only you can find it.
- Beware of strangers. Sex traffickers often seem harmless and might be well-dressed, young, and good looking. Don’t ever tell a stranger your full name, where you are going, or if you are staying alone.
- Avoid unsafe situations. You should avoid traveling alone, at night, or on deserted side streets. If you think you are being followed, find a crowded place. Don’t hesitate to alert police to your suspicions, and give friends and family members a description of the potential perpetrator.
- Volunteer with caution. When traveling abroad for volunteer opportunities, only pick reputable agencies that have strict protocols and thorough supervision. Before you sign up with an organization do some research to make sure they are a legitimate charity organization. Be aware that there are organizations trying to exploit foreign citizens.
- Support responsible businesses. If you see a club or bar that employs extremely young looking workers or seems to be engaged in questionable practices, do not give them your business.
- Buy a TassaTag. These bright, hand-made and fair trade luggage tags support efforts to reduce human trafficking. TassTag stand for Travelers Take Action Against Sec Slavery and Trafficking. Find out how to get a TassaTag.
- Don’t support trafficking. Don’t give money to child beggars who may be the victims of trafficking. If you give money to these children, you are helping the trafficking industry remain profitable. Instead, donate money to a local charity, school, or clinic.
Efforts to curb human trafficking are ongoing, yet millions of people remain trapped in slave-like conditions around the world. Support responsible businesses and organizations that are fighting to eliminate trafficking and aid former child slaves. To report potential human trafficking activity: call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.