The folks at the National Geographic Channel were kind enough to send us over some episodes to watch on our own. Perhaps watching these episodes in succession heightened our paranoia. If we were watching the show when it was on TV (Wednesdays, 10pm EST) then the commercials would have given us time to do our breathing exercises in between each terrifying captive moment.
By the third episode we watched, we were almost convinced that we would never leave America. But of course, we were just overreacting.
When we stepped back to look at these locked-up individuals we saw that there were clear and distinct ways to avoid ending up like them. Thus, here are the five lessons we've learned to avoid getting "Locked Up Abroad."
Lesson #1: Don't offer to carry drugs for anyone no matter how desperate for money you are.
If you do the crime, you do the time. And like Nancy Reagan always said, "Just Say No." Most people get locked up because they are doing a drug run for their dealers back home. The dealers pay for their tickets, their hotel rooms and tell them it's going to be a piece of cake. But hello, you are smuggling drugs out of a country. You are going to get caught. Don't do it. Find another way to pay your dealer back. Or don't do drugs in the first place.
Lesson #2: Don't talk to missionaries while on the plane to Manila.
This seems so harmless right? But if said missionary invites you to join her and her workers on a trip to one of the southern islands in the Philippines, just be aware that the Philippines have a serious problem with kidnapping. Meaning, it's a popular pastime. The rich and foreigners are the #1 targets. The bandits will hold you for ransom, torturing you all the while and lock you up in a shed until they either get info or money from you. The fact that one prisoner in a "Locked Up Abroad" episode was able to escape was in short, a miracle of God.
Lesson #3: If you do act as drug mule, don't drag your friends into coming along with you.
If you get caught trying to smuggle drugs, anyone traveling with you will also be thrown into jail--even if your travel partner had no idea about your clandestine operation. If you must smuggle drugs, and we hope you don't, do it alone. No need to bring innocent people down with you. Conversely, if your friend surprises you with some all-expenses paid vacation to Peru and has an extra suitcase when you arrive at the airport, run away.
Lesson #4: Don't Agree to Carry a Package for Anyone.
Again, this goes back to drugs. If someone asks you to take a package somewhere for them, just don't do it--no matter how gorgeous he is. That's because there's gonna be some drugs in there. So tell him there's no room in your suitcase. Complain about the airline fees. Whatever you can do to get this package out of your sight. Similarly, check the contents of your bag before you head to the airport to make sure he didn't sneakily slip something in there.
Lesson #5: Know the Law.
If you're heading to a foreign country, scope out their most stringent laws before you go. Heck, learn the entire legal system if you are really paranoid. Stay away from any and all drugs and remember, some countries have odd laws. In the Barbados, it's illegal to wear any style of camouflauge clothing. In Israel, you need a license to ride a bike. In Kuwait, it's illegal to take pictures of any government or military buildings. Also make a note of your country's embassy in that country, as well as how to find a lawyer in case you didn't pay attention to lessons 1-4 and got locked up abroad.
Have your own horror stories from getting locked up abroad? God, we hope not. But if you have had any brushes with the law, while traveling tell us in comments below.