Terrorism & staying safe

The likelihood of getting caught up in a terrorist attack while you’re on holiday is extremely small. But occasional reports of attacks on holidaymakers abroad can be worrying so it’s important to know how to reduce your risk and what to do in the unlikely event you do get caught up in an incident.

Find out how safe the country you’re visiting is

The first thing to do is to check out the latest travel advice on the country you’re visiting on the government’s website. This will tell you how safe the area is and if there have been any recent incidents of terrorism. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office doesn’t advise against travel everywhere that terrorists operate but if the risk is high it will advise against all but essential travel to a particular region.

How to reduce your risk from terrorism

The risk of terrorism is higher in some countries than in others. But with terrorists increasingly looking for targets that aren’t in well-protected places you need to be vigilant at all times while abroad. This includes places like bars, restaurants, shops, places of worship, tourist sites and on transport.

The government offers the following advice to reduce your risk from terrorism:

  • Follow the news about the country and region you’re visiting
  • Keep your wits about you in public places that attract foreigners such as hotels, restaurants, bars and crowded places like markets, shopping centres and sports events
  • be vigilant around significant religious occasions such as Ramadan and public holidays
  • look out for anything suspicious and if you see anything report it to the local police
  • think about the routes you use and have a plan of action to follow in the event of an incident
  • keep your mobile phone charged and with you, with emergency numbers programmed in
  • think about how much you might stand out from the crowd particularly when travelling off the beaten track or in out-of-town places
  • be discreet on social media about yourself and your travel and social plans
  • if you go on a trip while you’re away tell a friend, family or trusted hotel staff where you’re going and when you plan to return
  • identify places where you could seek refuge in an emergency
  • when you are in airports, minimise the time you spend in the public area as this is generally less well protected. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas. When you fly into an airport leave it as soon as possible.

What to do if you get caught up in an incident

If you do get caught up in a firearms or weapons attack you should run to a safe place if at all possible. This is far better than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then hide remembering to turn your phone to silent (also turn off vibrate) and barricade yourself in if you can. Then finally and only when it’s safe should you contact the police.

Counter Terrorism Police UK has produced a video which tells you exactly what to do to keep safe in the event of an incident.


If there’s a safe route – run

Insist others go with you

Don’t let their indecision slow you down

Leave belongings behind


If you can’t run to safety, hide

Be aware of your exits

Find cover from gunfire

Try not to get trapped

Lock yourself in a room if possible

Barricade yourself in

Keep away from doors and windows

Be quiet and silence your phone


Call the police when it is safe

Give your location

Give the direction the attacker(s) is moving in

Describe the attacker


If you’d like to know more about personal safety, airport safety and what to do if you need medical help, see our guides.

Published on 07/06/18

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