Summer often means it’s time for vacation! Here are some security tips to consider as you plan your next adventure.

On the Road

Become familiar with your travel route before you start. Have a GPS, but also get a map and study it. GPS and smartphone mapping apps work great—when they’re working. It’s always a smart plan to have paper maps for backup. Pay special attention to the locations of gas stations and emergency service facilities (fire, police, medical).

If you’re renting a car, make sure it’s in good operating condition. Learn how to operate all windows, door locks and other equipment before you leave the lot. Likewise, if you’ll be driving your own car, make sure it’s ready for the road. Keep your maps and rental agreement concealed, not lying on the seat or the dashboard.

Keep car doors locked while you’re driving. Store luggage in the trunk, and park in well-lighted areas only, close to building entrances and walkways. Have car keys ready when approaching your car after you step out to visit a rest area, shop or eat, and check the backseat and floors before you get in.

If your vehicle is bumped by another car, think before you get out. If you are in doubt or uncomfortable, signal the other driver to follow you to a nearby police station or a busy, well-lighted area where it’s safe to get out, or use your cell phone to call for assistance.

At the Airport

Stay especially alert and watch your bags and laptop computer at all times.

Don’t let anyone but uniformed airline personnel handle your bags. Watch out for staged mishaps, such as someone bumping into you or spilling a drink. Often it’s a ploy to divert your attention.

If at all possible, show your state driver’s license instead of your US government ID when in a foreign country. Know the “What and What Not” to have at airport checkpoints; check here: http://www.faa.gov/passengers/.

Carry your purse close to your body, or your wallet in an inside front pocket.  Better yet, wear a money pouch under your clothes. Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage, and keep anything of value in a carry-on that stays with you.

Avoid displaying expensive cameras, jewelry and luggage that might draw attention. Your aim is to blend in with the crowd.

Hotel Stays

Insist that hotel personnel write down your assigned room number so others can't see or hear it. Never leave luggage unattended outside of your locked room, and keep all hotel doors and windows locked. Use all the door locks. Learn the location of fire exits, stair wells, elevators and public phones in case of emergency. 

Make sure your room has an indoor viewer and a dead bolt lock. Keep valuables such as jewelry and cash in the hotel safe. Better yet, leave jewelry in a safe at home. See the Cannon Safe® website for great solutions to these requirements: http://www.cannonsafe.com/.

Ask hotel staff about the safety of the neighborhood and which areas to avoid, especially if you want to walk or jog nearby. Before taking a cab, ask the hotel staff about directions and estimated costs.

Always verify who’s at your door. Don’t open the door to someone you don’t know. If an unexpected visitor claims to be a hotel employee, call the front desk to make sure.

Don’t display room keys in public or leave them on the restaurant tables, at the swimming pool or in other places where they can easily be stolen. If you lose the plastic key card to your room, insist on a new-keyed card.

Cell Phones

A smartphone is a very useful tool to carry with you when you travel because it is a recording device for information, pictures, videos, almost anything you need to keep on hand for an emergency.

Your smartphone can help you with all or some of the following, based on if you have reception issues or not:

  • Insurance company information (auto, medical, life, etc.)
  • Airline information (boarding passes/tickets)
  • Rental car road emergency service number
  • Hotel front desk
  • Someone in home area (house sitter, family member, neighbor)
  • Local taxi
  • Local police
  • U.S. embassy
  • Photos of ID, passport, or licenses
  • GPS/maps

 

Finally, always inspect everything when you get ready to leave, be it the hotel, the restaurant, the taxi, the plane, whatever. A vacation is a terrible time to lose something you need and can generally be prevented by a simple double-check of the area.