Travel Security - Proper Planning Prevents Travel Nightmares

Travel Security - Proper Planning Prevents Travel Nightmares

May 18, 2009 – Russell Longcore

Travel security is a topic that needs some discussion. I talked about Vacation Security in my last article, which dealt with leaving your home secure when you go on vacation. Today, let's discuss the security issues you need to deal with while you're traveling.

This article will not address the repressive governmental strictures on travel in the USA. You can get that from another source.

Domestic Travel

If you're on a driving vacation, here are some tips.

o Get the car checked over before you begin driving. Make sure the tires are good and properly inflated. Make sure the engine is running correctly. If your car is old and unreliable, seriously consider renting a car for the trip. Nothing can ruin a trip more quickly than a car breakdown.

o Prepare an emergency box for the trunk. Put in flares, a can of tire inflator/sealant, jumper cables, a gallon of premixed engine coolant, a toolbox, a flashlight with extra batteries, a blanket and duct tape. Add more if you can think of stuff you want.

o Make sure that your auto insurance premiums are paid and your coverage is current. If you don't have Emergency Road Service on your policy, either have it added or buy it from someone like AAA.

Follow the tips you'll find below. They are as useful when traveling domestically as they are internationally.

International Travel

Most places you will likely travel are tourist areas that will have relatively good safety. However, some like to travel to out-of-the-way places. Just realize that there are risks you take whenever you travel. The greatest risk you take while traveling is being naive and trusting. So, here are some tips. Each one could be an article all by itself.

o Pack light...then pack even lighter. Don't take big suitcases. Try to get by on the smallest luggage you can. A rucksack or backpack would be best. You'd be better served to take extra cash and buy clothing at your destination. Leave it there when you come home, or buy a suitcase over there and bring the stuff home. Don't you need mementos of the trip?

o Carry-on bags: Keep your bag under your seat or between your legs. If you are going to place it in the overhead compartment, try to place it ahead of your seat location, so you can see whoever reaches into the compartment.

o Rucksack/backpack rules: line the bottom with a towel or jacket. Bad guys like to slit the bottom of backpacks with a razor and then follow you until your stuff falls out. Bring with you or buy a daypack, a smaller version of the backpack just for day trips. Same rules apply.

o Don't look wealthy; don't flaunt your valuables. Don't even take valuables with you.

o Never leave a computer, PDA or other electronics in your hotel room. Put it in the hotel safe or take it with you. You do realize that even the finest hotels can have employees that steal, even from the hotel safe, don't you?

o Keep both hands free. Carrying stuff makes you vulnerable to getting your pocket picked.

o Make copies of your passport photo page, vaccination certificate, travelers check receipts, airline ticket, driver's license, student card, YHA card, etc. Leave one set of the copies at home. Carry a couple of copies in various places in your luggage. Take a certified copy of your birth certificate to help you get a new passport. Keep a list in your trip address book of the numbers of your insurance policies, bank accounts, social security or national identity number and credit card numbers.

o If you buy new travelers checks, train or airline tickets along the way, not only save the receipts (separate from the checks), but keep a separate note of all the check numbers and when you spend them. Having exact information will help in getting them replaced if lost or stolen.

o Keep your passport, credit cards and cash next to your skin. Keep them in front of you, not in your back pocket or a fanny pack on your fanny. Sleep with them. The best solution is a "passport bag" that you hang around your neck, inside your clothing.

o Keep a small billfold with your "day money" in your front pocket.

o If you buy enough stuff that you need another suitcase to carry it home, seriously consider boxing it and shipping it home.

o Stay in physical contact with your bags unless they are locked in your room or stowed safely on the vehicle of transport.

o Every time you stand up, glance back to see what you left behind.

o YOU carry your luggage onto the bus, train, truck, or taxi with you. Don't allow a porter or stranger to take your bag for you. You might not ever see it again.

o When you buy a ticket, be sure you actually receive a ticket.

o Don't rent a hotel room that is not secure; lock your room every time you leave it.

o Rinse out your own laundry in the room, and hang it up inside the room. It will usually dry overnight. But sending out your laundry invites theft.

o Be aware of your surroundings everywhere you go. Don't be so absorbed in sightseeing that you become blind to what's happening next to you.

o Don't agree to carry ANYTHING home for ANYONE, no matter how bad their sob story or who it is. If they want it badly enough, they can ship it. If you get caught with contraband in your bags, it's your backside that will go to jail.

o Always count your change after you make a purchase.

o If you are in a bar or restaurant, NEVER EVER leave your drink or meal unattended. Drugs can be squirted into a drink in a millisecond. Don't accept free drinks from anyone.

If you will simply be highly aware of your surroundings at all times, you will likely be pretty safe as you travel.

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