Be prepared if you plan to travel internationally

CLEVELAND -- The Malaysia Airlines mystery has a lot of people concerned about international travel.

The unknown might be the scariest part of all, but being prepared when you travel internationally can make a big difference.

According to Cleveland area travel experts, the Malaysia Airlines incident should not discourage anyone from hopping on a plane and jet-setting clear across the ocean.

"In this business, we always tell people the most dangerous part of your trip is probably the drive to the airport," Valleyhill Travel Center owner Beth Conroy said. "Flying is the safest thing you can do."

Despite the Boeing 777 disappearance, she said no one should be afraid to fly overseas and even to that area, as long as they take some precautions -- like making an itinerary and leaving it with family or friends at home.

"Be aware of your surroundings," Conroy said. "We just had people come back from that part of the world, and they had an absolutely fabulous time."

Conroy tries to book domestic carriers when possible overseas. One of the agents at Valleyhill has a trip planned to Thailand next month, and this has not changed her mind at all.

Aviation experts like Andrew Thomas, who has written several books on the topic of aviation security, say above all, treat your passport like your most valuable possession.

"You should always make a photocopy of your passport and put that one in your pocket while you're out of the country, and leave your original passport in the hotel safe," said Thomas, a University of Akron global business professor.

But reports of stolen passports from the Malaysia flight are a reality. With about 4 million people traveling by air in the world every day, some things are bound to fly under the radar.

"The system itself is inherently safe, but it's a human system after all, so it's not perfect," Thomas said. "It's flawed, and there are people out there trying to do harm. But you shouldn't quit living because there's a couple of bad people out there."

Both of them recommend using the U.S. State Department as a point of reference before booking an international flight. You can check there for the latest security warnings and pointers for flying internationally.


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