At this point, you’ve thoroughly researched your destination and collected all the relevant information you need regarding travel and safety. If you’re traveling alone, you’re all set, but if you’re traveling with family or friends, it’s time to sit down together and discuss the intel you’ve collected. It’s crucial that everyone in your party understand the area you’ll be visiting, have a general idea of the itinerary, and know what safety precautions need to be considered during each phase of travel. In the Federal Air Marshal Service, this is known as the “intelligence briefing.” Keep in mind that law enforcement intelligence briefings can be long, exhaustive, and downright dull. If you’re traveling with others, that’s no way to kick off their vacation experience, so let’s stick with the basics and keep things on a lighter note.
If you found information relevant to the group’s safety during your threat assessment, now’s the time to discuss it. It’s imperative everyone understands what areas you’ll be visiting, what the likelihood of danger will be, and in what regions close contact and frequent communication will be critical. For instance, Spring Fest in Munich, Germany, is crowded, bustling, and abounds with vibrant colors, games, and dancing. The air is filled with music and the smell of freshly baked pretzels, and there’s plenty of drinking and shouting. People will also purposefully try to sidetrack you and draw you into their group of merrymakers. When walking through all this, it’s easy to become distracted and even separated from your group, so emphasizing the importance of sticking together and maintaining communications in a situation like this should definitely be included in your briefing.
Spring Fest, Munich, Germany
Aside from the obvious safety concerns, the intel briefing is also a great time to consider the rest of the group’s wants, needs, and opinions. Everyone has different personalities after all, and if you want your vacation to be enjoyed by the entire group, you’re going to need to discuss everyone else’s vision for how the trip should go. According to healthadvocate.com, if you’re sitting down with friends or family to discuss your upcoming getaway, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:
• Discuss everyone’s expectations for the trip.
• List activities, sites, and other places everyone is interested in. If you’re traveling with kids and teenagers, allow them to choose from activities they may enjoy doing so they feel included.
• Prioritize the list so the “must-dos” are completed, and no one misses out on an experience they were really looking forward to.
• Acknowledge before you go that not everyone will get to do everything they want to do at all times.
• Agree to compromise. Compromising is one of the most critical parts of a successful family vacation. If everyone gets some of what they want, everyone will be much happier.
After this, think about past family trips, and at what points things could have been better. Consider the following questions:
• What went wrong?
• Where, when, and how did things start to go bad?
• What actions can you take to avoid or resolve these issues if they present themselves during this vacation?
Do your best to make the intel briefing fun and engaging. No one wants to sit in the living room and listen to you drone on about crime statistics, so have some fun facts available about some of the things you’ll be seeing and doing.
I also find that it’s a good idea to have a few surprises up your sleeve to get everyone excited about the upcoming trip. “Guess what, kids? If you behave and listen, we’re also going to visit the world’s largest ice cream store!” (That’s a real thing. It’s called The Ice Cream Farm, and it’s in Chester, UK.)
In the end, you’re using this time to express your security concerns, and you want those to be taken seriously, but at the same time, you want the group to get excited about what’s to come, so make sure you’re striking the proper balance during the intelligence briefing.
• If you found information relevant to the group’s safety during your intelligence gathering, share it during the intel briefing.
• It’s imperative everyone understands what areas you’ll be visiting, what the likelihood of danger will be, and in what regions frequent communication and sticking together will be critical.
• Aside from the obvious safety concerns, the intel briefing is also a great time to consider the rest of the group’s wants, needs, and opinions.
The above is an excerpt from Spotting Danger for Travelers: Build situational awareness to keep safe while traveling, by Gary Quesenberry, Publication date April 2023, YMAA Publication Center, ISBN: 9781594399305.