Dude, don’t get Locked Up Abroad …

Written by on May 20, 2012 in Travel Tips - 9 Comments

National Geographic airs a fascinating program, “Locked Up Abroad,” that tells tales nightmares are made of: getting locked up while traveling. When I want to feel better about my travels, this is the show I watch. It’s one of those train wrecks of awful, where you want to reach out and shake people for the decisions they make.

You’ve probably read stories. Seen movies. Perhaps you’ve even done a double-take of what could happen if your momentary lack of good judgement resulted in being thrown in the slammer in a country where you didn’t speak the language and the embassy might not be able to be your knight in shining armor.

This week’s episode, which airs on Wednesday, May 23 at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific is one of those that makes you wonder what on earth people were thinking. “Black Palace of Horrors” tells the tale of Dwight Worker, one of only two people who have ever escaped from Mexico’s Lecumberri Prison. Back in 1973, Worker was busted in Mexico City for smuggling cocaine to the US via a fake shoulder cast. Once he was caught, he was locked up in the infamous Lecumberri Prison, also known as the “Black Palace.”

As it goes with being locked up abroad, his life sucked. He had to fight off being gang raped. He nearly died thanks to being stabbed. He even ended up being placed in the pysch ward (and why not? Life there was hell!). But, while he was there, he also met Barbara Chilcoate, a visitor. Like most modern day romances, the two fell in love and, together the love birds crafted one of the most jaw-dropping prison breaks. On his wedding day, in prison, he attempted to escape while made up as a woman.

Which makes me wonder … how far would I go to escape a life in the slammer in another country? Which leads me to the question, would I ever do something that lacks such udder judgement to end up there in the first place?

The truth …

I’m not going to lie. I have done some seriously stupid stuff while traveling in the past.When I was in my early 20s and thought I was invincible (or just didn’t think). Looking back … man, I was an absolute idiot.

Don’t want to get locked up abroad? I swear, it is common sense stuff. But, sometimes you need to read it to be reminded.

So … skip this stupid stuff:

1. Don’t do drugs in foreign countries. Seriously. Don’t. And, if my words of advice aren’t enough, at least do your homework and find out what the laws are should you get busted. These little dalliances can result in jail time in places that are not forgiving. Even countries you think are somewhat lax in their laws in regards to drugs … I knew someone in Croatia who got busted smoking pot. Ended up in jail. Sounds like a great way to have a vacation, yes? The Full Moon parties in Thailand? Just because everyone else is popping pills doesn’t mean you have to. I’ve heard horror stories from party-goers there and rumors of drug searches on the beach.

2. Keep calm. Drunken nights in bars can sometimes lead to aggression. Breathe deep. Walk away. Don’t fight.

3. Don’t be overly helpful. Meaning, if someone asks you to carry something for them, deliver something for them … just don’t. “Brokedown Palace” anyone?

4. Know the rules. Some places are far more conservative than others. Public intoxication. Skinny dipping. Mind your manners.

5. Do not ever, ever, ever joke about terror plots.

While this all seems like common sense (and it really is), there’s a reason shows like “Locked Up Abroad” exist: because people forget to exercise it.

Want real life stories to keep you on the straight and narrow while traveling? Tune in Wednesday to the latest episode of “Locked Up Abroad.”

Have you ever gotten locked up while traveling? Share your story below!


About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The founder of Vegans, Baby, you can normally find her hanging out at vegan restaurants around town, exploring the beauty of the desert southwest or camped out at a coffee shop banging on a keyboard. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

9 Comments on " Dude, don’t get Locked Up Abroad … "

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures May 21, 2012 at 7:43 am · Reply

    This show is so scarily awesome!

    • Diana May 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm · Reply

      Yeah, it is!

  2. Raymond @ Man On The Lam May 22, 2012 at 11:42 am · Reply

    I think you need another blog post where you elaborate on your crazy 20s days! 🙂

    • Diana May 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm · Reply

      Ha ha!! No way. Those stories are saved for conversations over beer in a foreign place.

  3. Gina of One Day in a City May 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm · Reply

    That type of stuff always freaks me out. I always think of Bridget Jones getting innocently locked up. Except I don’t have a hot Colin Firth to break me out of jail! 😉

    • Diana May 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm · Reply


  4. Sofia @ As We Travel May 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm · Reply

    I happened to see one of the episodes from this show, similar to the one you talk about here, it was pretty horrifying.

    Seeing the big signs at the airport customs stating that the country you’ve just arrived in punishes drug possession with death penalty, is enough for me!

    • Diana May 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm · Reply

      Me, too!!! That is scary stuff!!

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  1. How NOT to Get “Locked Up Abroad” this Summer – Nat Geo TV Blogs

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