Locked Up Abroad Continues to Captivate

Photo credit © Steve Kemp / Raw Television

Originally debuting in 2007, “Locked Up Abroad” is a hit series on National Geographic that has attracted somewhat of a cult following. The show is currently in its sixth season, with new episodes airing each week. “Locked Up Abroad” is presented in documentary form and is based on true events. It appeals mainly to viewers interested in thrilling, if not terrifying, tales set in exotic locations.


During each episode of “Locked Up Abroad”, viewers watch a realistic reenactment of a true story in which a person was imprisoned or kidnapped while visiting a foreign country. Clips of the reenactment are broken up with commentary, as well as interviews with the story’s main characters. The show was originally released in the United Kingdom, where it was known as “Banged Up Abroad.”

Past Episodes

The stories covered on “Locked Up Abroad” often involve drugs, cultural differences or simply a person who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, in “Dangerous Liaisons,” principal character Stephen Comiskey traveled to Saudi Arabia to work as a nurse after coming out as a homosexual. Because homosexuality is forbidden under religious law, Saudi Arabian officials arrest Comiskey and put him in jail.

In another past episode, “Cocaine Mule Mom,” American citizen and mother Ruthie Lambert engages in drug trafficking to provide for her family. After successfully smuggling drugs out of Peru on numerous occasions, Lambert is captured and remanded to a South American prison.

Things I’ve Learned from “Locked Up Abroad”

Watching this program can teach viewers a lot about the dangers of making mistakes in foreign countries. Below are some of the most important lessons from “Locked Up Abroad.”

  • Don’t talk to strangers. In several past episodes, travelers ended up in trouble because they trusted someone they didn’t know. Whether the individual turned out to be a drug smuggler or kidnapper, the ending was never good.
  • Never travel without insurance. Imprisoned or kidnapped individuals usually come out of the situation with broken bones and more than a few bruises. Without short term medical insurance, it must be difficult to pay the hospital bill.
  • Nothing in life is free. Characters in “Locked Up Abroad” often find themselves in bad situations because someone made them an impossible promise of money or other valuables. People in foreign countries aren’t standing on the street waiting to give their money away. If someone is promising the world, they probably want a pretty big favor in return.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. In more than one episode of this program, characters are told that doing something will be “easy,” “harmless” or “legal,” only to discover that going through with the request will land them in jail. In situations where a huge reward seems to come at an uncharacteristically small price, people should always use common sense.

Though “Locked Up Abroad” isn’t for the faint of heart, for others it is a captivating program that highlights the perils of traveling unprepared, as well as the differences in international legal systems. New episodes air on Monday evenings at 10 PM EST. Enjoy!