Travelling Abroad

There are a number of groups that target travellers, especially lone travellers who have no formal contacts in the country they are visiting. It is sensible to be cautious of anyone offering instant friendship and/or a free meal or place to stay. Some groups present themselves as part of a traditional religion; others may tell you they are a community of people who want to make the world a better place, or who have discovered some new Truth (usually revealed by a charismatic leader). Some groups may appear sinister, but it is far more likely that they will seem friendly, pleasant, intelligent, sincere, ideologically committed and 'decent' people.
If you are tempted to become involved, try to find out as much as you can about the organisation: What are its beliefs and practices? When was it started? Who is the leader? Where are the headquarters? Do they have their address in a local telephone book? Do they seem at all secretive or evade some of your questions? You might be able to get information locally, but if not, try searching the Internet using any key words or names; you may learn some useful facts, but remember websites run by the groups (and those run by their opponents) tend to be selective and are not always reliable in the information they offer.
Alternatively you could contact Inform at or on our dedicated helpline +44 (0) 20 7955 7654 for information. It may be that the group is perfectly benign, but:
  • Tell at least one person (a relative or friend) where you are and whom you are with.
  • Keep in regular contact with your friend or relative.
  • Tell them how they might contact you.
  • Take normal precautions about going alone to places with a person or people you do not know.
  • Pay particular attention to your health, hygiene, what you eat and drink.
  • Keep an eye on your property. 
  • Hand over your passport and/or money or any personal property.
  • Allow yourself to be cut off from other people.
  • Stop taking prescribed medicines.
  • Agree to do anything that you would not normally do merely because someone puts pressure on you.


  • Even if you no longer have access to your passport, you can still return to Britain so long as you can satisfy the British immigration service of your entitlement to enter the UK (which should not be a problem for a British citizen).
  • A plane ticket bought for you by someone else can be picked up at an airport.
  • Reverse charges ('call collect') telephone calls can be made to Britain.
  • In severe circumstances you might be able to borrow money from a British Embassy or Consulate to help you return home.
  • Contracts or promises signed under duress are not necessarily binding. You might need a lawyer to clarify the situation.