Fifteen years ago, on May 30, 2005, Beth Holloway’s nightmare began. Her daughter, Natalee Holloway, went missing in Aruba while on a high school senior trip. While the details of her daughter’s disappearance remain a mystery, Holloway has turned her grief into a mission of helping others. Not only does she help parents of the missing, but she also helps educate the public on how to travel safely.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum and the Natalee Holloway Resource Center are providing these awareness programs as Holloway speaks to local students, just in time for their spring break and end-of-year travels.
“The country watched the news regarding the disappearance of Natalee. She could have been anyone’s daughter and it struck us,” noted Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. “We are honored to work with Beth to help spread the message of ways that people can stay safe while traveling.”
Natalee’s disappearance sparked media headlines around the world, as people waited and watched, hoping for answers, and as Holloway’s quest for answers in finding her daughter was relentless.
While Holloway’s grief continues, she has turned her energy toward helping others. She’s been seen on the TV show Vanished with Beth Holloway and, along with the museum, is providing assistance through the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, where downloadable resources such as college safety tips, identity-theft information, and information about law enforcement careers could be found. Soon, Holloway will bring her story and message to local schools surrounding Alcatraz East.
“I’m looking forward to sharing Natalee’s story with the students, with the hope that they will use what happened in my family to make informed decisions regarding their personal safety, especially in unfamiliar situations,” Holloway explained. “Just maybe, it will help keep someone else’s children safe. Natalee’s story is a reminder to everyone to put personal safety first, and I hope other teens can learn from it.”
Travelers never expect bad things are going to happen to them. Yet every year, lives are ruined due to trafficking, sexual offenses, homicide and other incidents. Keep these safety tips in mind when traveling.
Always spend some time researching where you are going. Don’t just focus on tourist attractions. Check out the U.S. Department of State’s recommendations, available online. The government will let you know how safe it is to travel to and within a particular country. While you are at it, look up the contact information for the U.S. Embassy closest to your destination and keep it handy—in your phone, written down or both.
Consider health precautions.
There may be vaccinations required or health warnings you should be aware of when you are leaving the country. Be sure to find out if there’s anything you must know before you go.
Take your important documents and make copies of them. The copies can be stored at home, where someone could easily obtain them for you, or electronically, so you can easily access them.
Obtain travel insurance.
This will help provide you with the coverage you need if anything happens. Speak with your insurance provider to see what you should have while traveling.
Check your look.
It may be difficult to do, but as much as possible try not to stand out and look like a tourist. Criminals find tourists to be easy targets.
Keep in touch.
Be sure to regularly check in with family and friends, so people know where you are and where you’re headed.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Keep in mind such things as hotel security, going places in the dark and walking in sketchy areas. Don’t get so caught up looking at the sights that you forget to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Watch the alcohol.
While you want to have fun, drinking too much alcohol in a place you are not familiar with can put you at additional safety risks. Pace yourself, get a designated driver, exercise caution about who you are drinking with as well as knowing the legal drinking age, and keep your guard up, so you don’t become more vulnerable.
Add tracking and a password to your phone. This will help you find the phone if it gets stolen and, if you go missing, it may be used to help locate you. Connect with a family member or friend back home who can have access to your tracking, in case it’s needed.
Courtesy of Teach & Travel.
Photo Courtesy of Natalee Holloway Resource Center