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Pryce
01-28-2003, 07:17 PM
Stripper Travel Safety

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In response to a lot of forum discussion and concerns about dancer safety when traveling abroad to work, I decided it might be helpful to write this article about ways we can limit our risks and increase our chances of returning home safe and happy. Some of the things I’ve listed below may seem excessive, but a little extra caution never hurt anyone, and even though things will go smoothly for most travelers, there is something to be said for knowing you’ve covered your bases. Going to a foreign place can be scary for any reason; add in other potential risk factors like foreign laws, contracts and unfamiliar work environments, it could be overwhelming. Many of the following points are simple safety measures that can and should be taken anytime we leave our homeland; so even if you’re just thinking of taking an exotic vacation, this info could be helpful.

One of the more common rumors about dancing abroad is that a lot of girls get suckered into ‘contracts’ where they must turn over their passports to some club owner or agent on arrival, then wind up being forced into slave prostitution for indefinite periods of time. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have never personally heard of such a case. I do find it rather hard to believe though, knowing how tough most strippers are, and how weary we can be of strangers. That said, I feel it is important to stress that you should NEVER under any circumstance turn over your passport to anyone. The only people who need to see it are immigration and airport officials. Everyone else can see your regular driver license or other government ID. If someone insists on seeing it, tell them you don’t carry it on you for fear of losing it, show them a copy and ask to call the Embassy or Consulate for your country. (You should carry a copy of your passport and the Embassy / Consulate address and phone number, along with your emergency person’s contact info with you at all times. You can write the necessary addresses and phone numbers on the back of your passport copy, and carry the paper in a pocket or bra. Don’t carry your passport around; foreigners are targets for thieves and pickpockets and you will need that passport to be admitted back into your home country.)

I like to carry, separately, at least 2 copies of all important documents for a trip, including all of the items in paragraphs 1-5 below, and keep at least one of the sets of copies stored safely in the room or apt where I’m staying, separate from the actual documents. If any of these important ID’s or documents is lost, having the copies makes it easier to get them replaced. You should also keep a list of important phone numbers with these papers, like government agencies, family/friends, travelers check companies, banks, plus important health info, etc, and make sure you have direct phone numbers that can be reached from outside your home country, since most toll-free numbers are only accessible within the country it’s based in. If there is an emergency, you may need one or all of these items, so it’s a good idea to keep everything in a safe place, all together, to save digging for papers and numbers in an already stressful situation. A checklist may help to ensure you don’t forget anything before you leave. Finally, before you leave, give a set of the same copies and information to a trusted friend or family member who will know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. In case of emergency, you should be able to call this person and have him/her give you and/or your consulate the number of your passport, and/or other important information.

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01. Passport – NEVER give to anyone except appropriate authorities.

If you don’t have one, apply for a passport at either your local government passport agency, or through any local US Post Office (US citizens). You will need proper ID, regular passport photos (available at many chain photo studios or travel agents) and the appropriate fees. Visit http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html (US) or http://www.ppt.gc.ca (Canada) for more information, applications, etc. You should apply at least 4 weeks in advance to ensure you receive your passport before your departure date.

Make copies of the inside front pages of the passport (where your photo and personal info are) and put them with your other important document copies.

If anyone other than airport/immigration officials ask to see your passport, tell them you don’t have it on you and show them your driver license or other government ID. Again, don’t carry your passport around once you’re at your destination – store it someplace safe in case you get mugged or pick-pocketed.

This may seem like a lot of precautions for one document, but it is the MOST important document when traveling abroad. If you lose it in a foreign country, you could have HUGE problems.

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02. Money - research costs for destination, use travelers' checks, avoid credit cards.

Use the resources on the Internet, at travel agencies and in travel guides/books to find out what sort of living expenses you will have in your prospective destination. Plan to take enough money to survive for a week or two without working because you may discover you don’t like the working conditions or that you can’t work at your desired location for some reason and you may have to wait for a seat on a return flight. This way you can at least be comfortable and enjoy the rest of the trip as a vacation instead of struggling to get home. Take a small amount of cash, but purchase travelers’ checks for the bulk of your travel money. Make copies of your travelers’ checks before you leave and keep those with your passport copies and give to your trusted friend as well. This way, if your travelers’ checks are lost or stolen, you can call in the serial numbers and get them replaced. I recommend American Express Travelers Checks, as they are globally recognized.
Editors Note: If you are an AAA member, you can get travelers' checks for free.

I also recommend avoiding the use of credit cards whenever possible while traveling, because I have had friends experience major problems with credit card fraud. For example, one of my close friends used his Visa debit almost exclusively on an extended trip to Brazil, and some clerk used a hidden swipe device on his person to store the card’s magnetic information and later use it to drain my friend’s bank account. My friend knew nothing until he went to an ATM to withdraw cash and found his balance was not only zero, but over $1000 to the negative! When he was finally able to call me, he was absolutely frantic, scared and pissed because he had no money. Of course he was able to find and dispute all the bogus charges and eventually (4 month process) get his money back, but imagine the headache he had when he found out his bank account had been cleaned out and he was left in a foreign country with no money. Use travelers checks – they’re safer.
Editors Note: Traveling with credit/ATM cards is getting safer. Take the same precautions as you would at home, make copies of your cards (front and back) as Bridgette suggested with the other documents, and make sure you have another source of cash in case. If you do plan to use an ATM card, make sure you pin is less than 4 digits as many foreign ATM's do not accept longer pins.

Get a prepaid calling card with plenty of minutes, which can be used to make international calls, before you leave home. If you happen to get lost or stuck somewhere with no money and need help, this could be the most important thing in the world. Make sure you have it. Some types of prepaid calling cards are available with voicemail options that you can use to allow friends and family members to leave messages for you. I have a Bunac calling card that is rechargeable and has this voicemail option. http://www.bunac.com

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03. Tell a friend - Agency, country, address, phone, etc.

Make sure your trusted friend knows exactly where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be staying, etc. Give him/her your agent’s name, address, phone, website, email, along with the name, address and phone number of the place where you plan to stay, where you plan to work, as well as your flight details and a copy of your plane ticket/itinerary.

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04. Consulate or Embassy - Get info before the trip.

Locate your Consulate office and/or Embassy in the country(ies) you’re planning to visit, and get their address, phone, email, website, etc. Have copies for yourself and your trusted friend.
US Dept of State: http://www.state.gov/
US Embassies: http://usembassy.state.gov/
Canada Dept of Foreign Affairs: http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/
Canada Embassies and Consulates: http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/world/embassies/menu-en.asp

This could also be a good place to get info on the immigration and visa regulations for your destination, as well as possible penalties for violating them, plus other general statutes you should know about.

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05. Plane tickets and contracts - make sure you can get an early return.

If the agency or club offers free airfare in return for fulfilling a contract with them, get all the details of that contract in writing and a printed copy to keep with your other important documents. Know what you are agreeing to before you agree or get on a plane. Give a copy of this contract to your trusted friend also.

Check airline prices for your destination, and either get your own ticket or make sure you take enough money to get yourself a return flight home if you arrive to unsatisfactory conditions. Also, check with the airline to see that you can change your return flight if necessary, and what the charges are to make those changes. Make sure you have enough money to cover it before you go!

Get an electronic plane ticket (not paper) and make copies of the itinerary for yourself and your trusted friend. Keep a copy with your other important documents! The reason for this is that if you lose a paper ticket, you could be screwed with no way of replacing it. By getting an electronic ticket, you only need a printed itinerary and valid identification at the airport. Either purchase your ticket online and choose the Electronic Ticket option or call the airline directly to make the booking and put a 24-hour hold on it. Then go to the airport and pay for it at the airline’s ticket counter – they will give you an electronic ticket there (may look like a regular paper ticket but has ELECTRONIC printed on it). I have done this before with American Airlines so don’t fret if you don’t have a credit card!

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06. CIA fact sheet - get info for destination.

The US CIA keeps lots of information on every country in the world, and you can look up general statistics including population, demographics, crime rates, etc - published annually on their website. http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html
Editors Note: You can also check http://www.travel.state.gov/ for travel warnings and announcments.

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07. CDC report – check for current health warnings, shots needed.

The US Department of Health, Center for Disease Control has a wealth of information on every part of the world concerning health hazards. If you’re going to a foreign country, especially for the first time, it is a good idea to check with the CDC for any current health warnings on that destination or recommended immunizations. Some immunizations take several treatments over several weeks to be effective, so the earlier you plan, the better. http://www.cdc.gov/ Travel agents can also give you printouts of current CDC travel information.

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08. Agency - research, references, reputation.

Use all available resources to find out everything you can about agencies you may use to get bookings abroad. Ask for references AND CHECK THEM. Ask other dancers, other agents, club managers if they have heard of or worked with those agents. If you repeatedly get negative comments about a particular agent, don’t use them. Get the agent’s phone number, call them and speak with them personally. If it is a reputable company, they will have experience dealing with cautious dancers and should have a good attitude about answering your questions. Use your judgment – if you get a bad feeling about someone, move on.

The agent should also be able and willing to tell you about local laws regarding strip clubs, dancers, prostitution, and what constitutes illegal behavior at work that might get you arrested. These are things you always need to know at home, but even more so abroad. Get as much info as you can.

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09. StripperWeb.com - search and ask for info.

As you probably already know, there is a wealth of information available on this very site, so search previous postings, read the articles, and post questions. That is what the site is for, and we all love answering each other’s questions!

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10. Common sense - Practice normal safety measures.

These are the basic safety precautions we all know to take all the time at home. Don’t take rides with customers or other strangers, don’t walk alone in dark alleys at night, be aware of your surroundings, carry pepper spray on your keychain, etc. Know what you’re doing and where you’re going. It is especially important to be cautious of going with customers, or anyone, especially in a car, because you will be obviously foreign and may seem like an easier target due to your being unfamiliar with the area. Stay on your toes!

At work, make a conscious effort to get along with your coworkers and customers, because you never know if someone might get mad at you and report you to local immigration officials or worse (Also, if you get into a jam, they may be the only people you can ask for immediate help, so you don’t want to be on their bad side). Just like you would at home, ask, watch and learn how things work, then make sure you stick with the program. If you don’t like the way things operate or what is expected of you, use the emergency money you brought and get an early flight home. If you planned properly, you could stay in a hotel for a few days and enjoy the tourist aspect of the area, making your trip at least somewhat enjoyable!

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I hope this helps, and I wish you luck and fortune in your future travels ;D
Bridgette

--Thank you to Bridgette for contributing this article! She has traveled many countries including London, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Brazil, and ALL over the U.S. Please visit her site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naughtybridgette

hollyday
01-29-2003, 03:01 PM
Off topic replies have been moved to This Thread by Stripper_Web.