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9 Travel Safety Tips for Couples – While Travelling

Using a few basic travel safety tips for couples, and solo travellers, you can cut down your risks while you travel the world on your next adventure.

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travel safety tips for couples, bruges, typical tourist

Note: We actually wrote these travel safety tips for couples before we heard about the tragic killing of the solo female traveller Sarai Sierra in Turkey. Our travel safety tips can also be used by solo female travellers and males.

This post is a follow up to our previous article: Travel Safety Tips for Couples, Before you Travel.

We felt obliged to write about travel safety because we get asked a lot of questions regarding travel safety. We travelled to Egypt over a year ago and still get asked “is Egypt safe to travel to?”

Egypt Pyramids of Giza

Of course travel in Egypt is safe

We basically consider that everywhere in the world is safe to travel to, as long as you are sensible and take precautions. It is like I said in our previous post, you don’t want to listen to everything others say, especially the media.

The world is NOT dangerous or unsafe. Sure there are dangerous people and destinations, but they are a really small percentage of the world.

And most of the unfortunate bad experiences that happen to travellers arise from them being stupid, drunk or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. By using a few simple travel safety tips, you can cut down your risks.

Travel Safety Tips for Couples

After 3 years of travel we haven’t had anything stolen and have NEVER felt unsafe because we follow our basic travel safety tips for couples, and solo travellers.

Travel Safety Tips: Blend in

One of the keys to travel safety is to limit drawing attention to yourself.

The closer you resemble a tourist, or more specifically the less you resemble other tourists, the better it is for you. Wearing sandals with white socks or sneakers with a large camera dangling from your neck is kind of a giveaway.

Similarly if you are waving around a map you may be targeted.

travel safety tips for couples, bruges, typical tourist

Basically, don’t look like me.

Travel Safety Tips: Dressing appropriately

Once you have stopped acting like a tourist you want to dress appropriately.

By leaving your valuables at home you should be carrying less stuff as you explore the streets. Everything you carry should be able to fit into your pockets or be within your bubble of “personal space”. Any time someone gets within that bubble you know to keep an eye on things.

There are always situations where this is unavoidable such as tightly packed public transport or local markets. To reduce your risk and avoid being pick-pocketed you want to keep your wallet in your front pocket, preferably buttoned up. Or use the inside pocket of your zipped up jacket.

You might also want to consider buying a “money belt” (examples here) that wrap around your waist underneath your shirt.

Finally, if you are a travelling couple ensure that you both carry your money and that it is not all in the same place. By spreading it out you won’t lose it all if one is stolen or lost.

Travel Safety Tips: Gather your gear

On arrival, or departure you are most likely to lose something.

At the airport you are tired from travelling and rush through customs eager to go exploring. Simply stuffing your wallet or passport at the top of your bag or in your back pocket is not good enough.

Use a money belt or secret compartment in your luggage to store valuable items.

It’s the same situation in a restaurant, accommodation or at an attraction. Take a moment to stop, gather yourself, and your belongings. As you walk away check behind you to see that you didn’t leave anything behind. I always do a quick “pat down” to check my camera, wallet, phone etc are in the right places.

If you know where everything should be then it becomes very easy to make this a simple routine ritual.

Travel Safety Tips: Don’t leave it unattended

We see this all the time. Someone sits down at a cafe and promptly ignores their bag or coat because they feel safe.

Always keep your items in your line of sight and within that personal bubble of space. It isn’t hard for someone to wander by and take something from your chair, or table, when you are distracted by delicious pastries and coffee.

Coffee and cake around the world

Travel Safety Tips: Stay Alert

Before leaving your accommodation ask the staff if there is anywhere in the city they recommend not going. While you don’t necessarily want to stick to the boring tourist trails, you also don’t want to end up in seedy areas.

It is easy to unwittingly wander up the wrong street when you are gazing at all the sights. Just retrace your steps (guys are a little better at this than girls for some reason) and carry on your way.

The important thing is that you see what is going on around you. Take notice of what strangers are doing because it’s common practice for thieves to work together.

Kids with signs may try to distract you while the others pickpocket you. Or women will beg for money while pushing a crying infant in your face. While we feel bad doing it, we always just ignore them and keep walking. Once you stop, you become a sitting duck.

Our only rule is that if someone outright robs you then NEVER FIGHT BACK. Insurance will cover anything stolen and it is better than getting injured or worse.

Travel Safety Tips: Lock your luggage

While you should travel with minimal stuff, anything you leave in your accommodation should be locked away. Most hotels and hostels provide safes or lockers.

Our small padlocks probably wouldn’t stop a determined thief, but it will make them think twice and/or slow them down. Stealing your stuff is all about speed, so most won’t take that risk.

Travel Safety Tips: Walk away from confrontations

Everyone has been in a situation where someone upsets you or makes you angry. They might have accidentally bumped you or tried to chat up your girlfriend. Some ridiculous people might just be looking for a fight.

Unless you are Chuck Norris, walk away calmly. You never know who that person might be associated with. If they follow you then stick to public areas and find a local spot to ask for assistance.

And by no means are we telling you to avoid people. Meeting people is a main reason to travel!

Travel Safety Tips: Know your way out

Memorising maps and routes comes naturally to me but there are still many times I have gotten lost while wandering small streets in Italy, Egypt and Turkey.

Besalu Village Alleyways

Familiarising yourself with local landmarks as you wander around the streets of a foreign city can be very helpful for when you do take that eventual wrong turn.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have taken the time to learn a little bit of the local language then someone will be willing to help you out. Our favourite experiences have been after we have gotten lost then shown where to go by a friendly local.

Travel Safety Tips: Don’t try this on holiday

While we love to step outside our comfort zones, we don’t take unnecessary risks. Especially when something looks a little dodgy.

There are way to many stories of travellers getting injured, or killed, while taking part in something life threatening. Sure we have run with bulls, driven scooters in Italy and scuba-dived in Egypt. But we consider these calculated risks. And we had great travel insurance.

Running with the Bulls Pamplona

If you want to take part in adventure travel activities then always check that the operators have legal qualifications and a good safety record too. The cheapest option is usually that price for a reason.

Travel Safety Tips Summary

No we are not trying to scare you away from travelling. We just know from experience that people seem to go on holiday without their brains. By showing you examples of worst-case scenarios we hope that we can limit your risks.

Travelling is safe when you reduce your risks and take precautions.

The important thing to remember is that if you do suffer a loss or a problem, don’t let that ruin your trip!

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44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Theodora

    February 18, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Not sure I agree with you on the luggage locks thing, Cole, but blending in is definitely important.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Why don’t you agree with me on the luggage locks? Do you mean because you think it draws attention to your bags indicating that there might be something valuable within? Agree on that part, but when you are out of your room then I think you should lock up 😀

    • Matthew Karsten

      February 21, 2013 at 8:03 AM

      I’m currious why too Theodora. Locks are especially important for insurance reasons. If a guesthouse/hotel employee goes into your room, steals something out of your unlocked back, there is no proof of it, and you’ll have a hard time with some insurance companies.

      At least if there is a lock, there will be some kind of damage to your bag from them breaking into it — and will be a breeze to get it replaced with insurance.

      A lock is a huge deterrent for most would-be thieves. A lot of theft is opportunistic, not done by professionals — regular people who were tempted by an easy opportunity. I lock by backpack even though anyone with a knife could get in no problem. It keeps the non-professionals out though.

      • Cole Burmester

        February 21, 2013 at 8:48 AM

        Completely agree 100% Matthew! Like I said in the post and as you mentioned, when you make it easy for them they will target you. A few simple travel saftey precautions go a long way.

  2. Laurence

    February 18, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Wait… you’re telling me my white sock / sandal approach isn’t the foolproof local disguise I had always thought it to be? Dang!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Only if you are travelling in North America should you wear the white sock / sandal attire 😉

    • Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

      February 18, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      I respect this comment as a North American!!! I live in Southern Spain, and when it’s 60 degrees out here, even the dogs are out in sweaters, but the Americans have on flip flops and short sleeves! Brrr!

      • Cole Burmester

        February 19, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        Haha it was a bit tongue in cheek of course as we LOVE Americans from our time spent travelling there 😉 They are just a little bit easier to stereotype (in a fun way)!

  3. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    February 18, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    We agree that an effective overall goal should be to become the most difficult target in town – us the lockers, use locks, keep your eyes open, etc and any thieves shopping for a target will move on to the rube with cash hanging out of his pants and his head in the stars. Remember, thieves are basically lazy. That’s why they’re thieves.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Totally agree Karen. Like the point about becoming the most difficult target! Even by making it a little bit more difficult for a thief, you are probably harder than most other tourists so they will move on.

  4. N. Song

    February 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I love to travel with my wife a lot. I’ve never considered such type of travel safety tips before, but I’m thankful to you for giving chance to learn such effective tips. To have a safe traveling I’ll definitely follow these tips. Thanks very much. 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Good to hear that you will follow them 😉 Enjoy your travels!

  5. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    February 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Most of these apply to solo travellers too! You should add “Stay away from bars/nightclubs” to your list too (although that would cut down on a lot of fun.) 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 18, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      Definitely don’t stay away from bars and nightclubs, unless you want to save money 😉

  6. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    February 18, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Blending in and not looking or acting like a naive confused tourist is key. I go as far as to tell people who approach me on the street (touts, scammers etc) that it’s not my first time in a city, in fact, I’ve been here three times before. That usually makes them shy away from ripping me off.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      Good point about telling them that it is not your first time. That is why it is also useful learning a little of language before you get there as well. Then the shock on their face when you tell them “no thanks” in their language is priceless and they walk off!

  7. Elle Williams

    February 18, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    I’m not sure I agree with the “ask them where you shouldn’t go” – you often find that people who live in a city are much more judgemental about places than you would ever be. In Sydney we stayed in an awesome hotel in the red light district over new year – people told us not to, that it would be unsafe and that it wasn’t a nice part of the city centre – but we went anyway and had an awesome time. The nightlife was actually comforting – as it meant we could come back late at night and not worry about being on our own on a street. All the kebab shops and bars actually made it feel safer at night time! 🙂

    Sure, if there is an area that is dangerous that’s a bit different – but sometimes the “bad neighbourhoods” get a bad rep just because some locals and tour book writers wouldn’t live there. The east end of London is a bit like that – when actually – if you go there you find Brick Lane, Vintage markets and quirky shops and nightlife. As a tourist in London though – people would warn you off the east end.

    Aside from that though – great article! Thanks for writing! I’m gonna take a look at some of these body bags you hide under your clothes… perfect for avoiding that panic when you think you’ve lost something!

    xx

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      Definitely a good point Elle! I guess my point was that you shouldn’t just rely on one persons advice either. Everyone has had bad experiences, even in the nicest places in the world. So ask a few different locals opinions and hopefully you can sort through the good and bad spots 😉

  8. Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com

    February 19, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    Great tips. I find it amazing how so many people think that travelling is the best excuse to get plastered drunk and wander around strange cities at night! – it is that sort of attitude which gets people hurt. Responsible tourists rarely have issues.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      I always find that we drink a lot less when we are travelling. I can’t stand waking up somewhere with a hangover and then missing out on seeing everything because I just want to sleep! We see so many people stumble into Hostels at 5am and don’t leave bed until the evening. Ridiculous!

  9. TammyOnTheMove

    February 19, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    Some great tips there. Blending in can sometimes be difficult. I am tall, pale and blond, so will always stick out in South America or Asia. One tip for the ladies, always wear your handbacg across your chest (not just on one shoulder) and hold onto it. Someone on a moped tried to rip my handbag off me in Cambodia once, but because I held on to it with my hands as well, he never got it. Only the string. Oh and he nearly fell off his bike too. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      Lucky that you managed to keep hold of your handbag! Well done 🙂 The only problem is that sometimes if you have it over your chest as well they might still try to rip it off and you might get injured. But still a good point! Better just to carry less stuff in my opinion 😉

  10. Jeremy Branham

    February 19, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    Very good list of tips. Happy to say I follow most of them. For me, I think #1 is huge. It’s a personal thing but I hate looking like a tourist. For me, it’s more than just a safety thing.

    A lot of this stuff is common sense for most of us who travel. However, they are very good reminders for all travelers. However, I’ve never been in a fight in my life. I definitely don’t plan on starting one when traveling 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      I am pretty sure I would get my ass kicked in any fights so always steer clear as well! Had a few misunderstandings with locals before, but usually only because they have been too drunk and their friends have sorted them out quickly 🙂

  11. Jennifer

    February 19, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Good tips! I would add that you should have a place that you both agree to meet at if you get separated for some reason.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Excellent point! We always do that when travelling on public transport because we have had a few close calls with people nearly getting left behind on train platforms etc haha.

  12. Jonathan Look, Jr.

    February 19, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Great advice! Also I might add, when it comes to safety, make it a habit. Avoid those panic moments where you wonder if you locked up of have your money-belt.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Exactly Jonathan! As soon as it becomes a natural habit it is very easy to stay safe while travelling. 😀

  13. Ali

    February 19, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Yes, the world is NOT a scary, dangerous place! The “don’t look like a tourist” thing isn’t always to achieve, but I do my best to dress respectfully. I think in certain parts of the world, no amount of dressing like the locals will make me blend in, but I always cringed seeing backpackers in Laos walking around in short-shorts and bikini tops.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      Dressing respectfully is definitely one of the main ways to not draw attention to yourself. I couldn’t stand it when we were in Egypt and Morocco where tourists were dressing inappropriately too! Not hard to wear a light long sleeve top and cotton pants, even if it is hot.

  14. Larissa

    February 19, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    A great summary Cole. When we returned from our RTW people would ask us if we there was anywhere in the world we felt threatened or unsafe. After thinking for a moment, our response was “No-because we made it a point to always be AWARE”.

    On the subject of fitting in, my husband like to pick up a newspaper in the local language and walk around with it tucked under his arm. If a tourist comes up and asks him for directions, he considers himself to have “arrived”. 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      February 19, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      We are the same Larissa. We have never felt unsafe, but maybe that is because we take these precautions too. I know it does come down to a little bit of luck too. Also, the tip about carrying around a local newspaper is a great idea! Definitely using that next time 😀

  15. Fahmi

    February 20, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    Stay alert is the best way to keep safe when you travel, as for the map stuff? how can you not travel without map? i use maps a lot when traveling to new place, especially using Google Map on my phone 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 20, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      We use maps as well, we just try not to wave them around in public because then you definitely don’t blend in 😉

  16. Mary - Green Global Travel

    February 20, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Great practical travel tips. I think you advice is useful for when you’re in your hometown as well as when you travel.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 21, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      The travel safety tips can definitely be applied to all situations and taking precautions never hurt anyone! 🙂

  17. Christie

    February 21, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Common sense… thanks for this article. I hope it makes more people aware that its OK to go to”dangerous” areas… just be a safe traveller!

    Safe travels!!

  18. Pingback: De-Bunking 14 Travel Myths (Part 1)

  19. Gail Monique Mallo

    March 13, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Ahhh this blog is so inspiring! How do you guys do it? My husband and I are a newly wed couple and we’ve always wanted to travel but work responsibilities keep tying us down.

    Will definitely be back reading your adventures for sure!

    • Cole Burmester

      March 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      Thanks Gail for dropping by the blog and commenting 😀
      It has been a really long and hard road to get to where we are now but you just have to stick at it! Good luck.

  20. PAR-SEC

    July 2, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Good post. Mostly common sense advice, which is awesome.
    Of course travel in Egypt is safe. A few exceptions would include urban areas, the Sinai peninsula, avoid crowds in Cairo, Alexandria, etc. Luxor is to be avoided at this time…. Egypt, despite of all normal concerns can be enjoyable nonetheless. One must do his/her homework!!!

  21. jennifer

    September 4, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Good advice – although I still think I’ll avoid running with the bulls. When I’m in a new city I check to see if they have a free walking tour. Good way to get an introduction to the city and to meet a local. They usually have great advice about areas to avoid in their city if there are any. Happy travels!

  22. Katie Featherstone

    March 22, 2015 at 11:58 PM

    Great advice- it’s mostly common sense, but I feel like most of the times travellers have problems it’ when they let their guard down. Walking away from confrontations is a very good point. You’ll never see them again, so it doesn’t matter if you loose an argument or whatever people think of you as long as you’re safe!

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Personal Musings

Why Reward Points are Important For Frequent Travellers

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There’s no question about it, you can save a bundle of money if you manage your reward points for travelling in the right way. But many people just go on living their lives without really taking full advantage of this.

But without a doubt, reward programs are worth it for anybody who flies with even any little semblance of frequency and regularity. As a matter of fact, you may be thinking that you don’t really fly enough to take advantage of these programs, and the fact of the matter is that you could be missing out.

 

Get The Right Credit Card:

The best way to rack up those points quickly (before you even realize how far you’ve gotten) is to get a card with a great rewards program. For example, here are some options for people in Canada to get on the reward points quickly. Your mileage may vary (sic!) from country to country, but in any case it’s a good idea to read up on your best options and select one that works for you.

From that point onward, it’s important to be disciplined in using that card every time you can in order to rack up those points. Read the terms and conditions carefully and use them to your advantage, instead of having them surprise you!

 

Stick To The Right Airline:

This one is very hard for many people, because it requires discipline and that famous and all-important delayed gratification.

The first step involved analyzing the airlines that go to your needed destinations and making sure you are selecting the best one. Obviously, the points that you get with your card need to be good for travel on that airline.

Then, you need to ALWAYS take that airline, even in cases when fares rise, knowing that in the long run, you will still save money. The more you pay, the more miles you are getting anyway. It’s easy to get seduced by a seat sale on some other airline, but if you wind up with unused points expiring because of it, it’s not such a good deal in the long term.

Make Sure You Get The Miles:

Try to make it so that when you travel for business, you buy your own fares (even if you later get reimbursed for them, that way the travel points will all be in your own name. This may take some back and forth, but it’s usually doable, and also can make a big difference in your pocketbook down the road.

Also, sometimes it may actually be worth it to save your miles and buy upfront, making them even more effective in the long run. All in all, it takes discipline and strategy to get the best deals.

 

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Travel Tips

The Importance of Travel Insurance

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The majority of people who travel don’t have any travel insurance whatsoever, and this is not a great state of affairs for these people. How many of them get caught out in a foreign country with no coverage whatsoever facing expensive medical bills for necessary treatment, or even worse, have that treatment denied?

 

What if I Have a Pre-existing Condition?

A lot of people think that they are ineligible for travel insurance if they have a pre-existing condition. The fact is, if you have a pre-existing medical condition you might still be able to get travel insurance coverage. In any case, full disclosure is very important, because if you withhold any important information at the time of setting up the policy, you may wind up with a denied claim at the worst possible time.

It’s Not What You Think In Other Countries:

Obviously, we don’t care much about the quality or availability of long-term care abroad for these purposes; it’s almost never necessary. However, emergency coverage can be extremely important in certain situations.

It’s also a huge error to think that other countries, just because they have “socialized medicine” (a very very poorly defined term), are going to treat anybody and everybody completely for free no matter what. Most countries these days only extend free medical coverage to citizens of that same country, and foreigners, including tourists, are on the hook for expenses.

Some jurisdictions may actually even simply deny treatment. Most countries have laws requiring hospitals to at least stabilize a patient before letting them go (with a heavy debt) regardless of ability to pay, but not all do! Also, some hospitals worldwide will go the other way and not discharge patients until the bill has been paid in full. These situations are precisely why travel insurance is so important.

Other Legal Issues:

There is another very valid point that surprises many people because they are simply unaware of it: often if you are travelling to another country as anything other than a tourist, say as a student or to work, even for a short time, you may actually be in violation of immigration policy by not carrying proper insurance.

For this reason it’s very important to check beforehand, because an impromptu deportation on top of a medical condition is the last thing you want to have happen on your trip.

 

Hopefully at this point you will understand what a great investment travel insurance really is, and not be one of those people caught in bad circumstances because they didn’t get their insurance right before getting on that plane!

 

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Travel Tips

4 Fun Apps for Travelers

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Going on holiday is fun and exciting but there are parts of the process that aren’t so much – waiting at the airport, the flight, the transfer.  These are the time when you and the kids can get a bit bored, a bit impatient and tempers can flare.  That’s when the smartphone comes to the rescue with a range of fun, free apps to keep you busy during the lull times.  Here are four to try on your next vacation.

1010

We all know and love Tetris, but it did get a bit old (actually, it is a bit old now) so 1010 is a good successor.  It is based on the same principles called tetrominoes that the designer of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov used and rather than varying dropping blocks, you have a canvas.  Make a line across it and the blocks vanish.  Sounds simple but the more blocks you get, the more complicated it gets, and it actually takes planning to win.

Bejeweled Blitz

If in doubt, go with a classic and Bejeweled Blitz has become one of the classics of the mobile gaming world.  Okay, it doesn’t have the excitement or potential big wins of mobile casinos and apps or the thrills of a top racing game with amazing graphics but if you want a game to keep you occupied during the flight and maybe even leave you ready to sleep for a bit, this is the one.  But be warned, it is more addicting that you could believe – think Candy Crush with sparkles, lightning and cool music!

Alphabear

Perfect to play with the kids, this is a word game that features bears – instant hit.  Create a word and spaces the letters used are replaced by bears.  Letters change color as they have been around too long and can turn into rocks, blocking the spread of bears.  The aim is obviously to turn all of the letters into bears and there are treasure events to spur players on.

Crashlands

Crashlands is a 2016 release that has quickly moved to be one of the best ever Android games.  The plot is that you play as an intergalactic trucker who has crashed landed on an alien world and needs to build a base, collect items and also save the world.  It has a great combination of character development, collecting and crafting things and there are no in-app purchases, so it is safe to leave the kids playing it.

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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