(This week’s newsletter was co-authored by Lina Maini and Suzanne Reisig Olden. Mostly Suzanne. She’s the one with common sense. I’m just a good investigator, having usually learned through firsthand, self-inflicted experience.)
Memorial Day weekend is approaching quickly, opening the official summer travel season. Regardless of the method of travel (car, plane, train, bus…) the common sense thing to do is to be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep your persons and belongings secure. Below are several safety tips and recommendations. (Some of the suggestions may seem obvious but we all know how hectic situations can get during the rush to leave, en route stops and unforeseeable events.)
1. Pack what you need.
You’re not moving; you’re taking a vacation. The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Do I really need this?”, especially in regard to expensive jewelry, electronics and such. You don’t want to double or triple the cost of your trip by having to replace valuable items.
If you absolutely must bring along the family jewels (in some cases, unavoaidably so) and obviously, the omnipresent iPad, keep them secured.
2. If you are driving and stop at a rest area, place the goodies out of sight. Just as important, ensure that the tell-tale cords are hidden from plain view.
3. If you are traveling by plane, train or bus, take the valuables with you. Do not check in these items. Use your common sense (often repeated phrase in this post) about that which would tempt thieves.
4. If you are on a cruise or traveling by boat, use the ship’s safe for very expensive items and your in-cabin safe for lesser but still important items.
5. Don’t display your most expensive jewelry while traveling. You are simply going to or from a destination, not attending the Queen’s Jubilee. There is a time and place for everything. Bling blasting in the company of strangers while in transit is definitely not that time or place.
6. Have your important documents (i.e., passport, driver’s license, credit cards, traveler’s checks…) on your person but make sure you have an extra copy with you and leave one at home with a trusted person.
7. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Stick to main, populated streets. Inform yourself of high crime areas or location-specific criminal activity (e.g., pickpocketing is a big problem along the Spanish Steps in Rome).
- If you are traveling overseas, contact the US State Department before departure for travel alerts. (You can even register your trip with the State Department to ensure a record of your itinerary.)
- Research the major local laws and customs of the country in which you will be traveling.
- Do not put your home address on luggage tags. Use a business address or simply write in your name and cell phone number. (Home phone numbers can be reverse I.D.’d much more quickly and easily.)
8. When traveling by plane, let’s remember that the TSA is not the enemy. Yes, the lines are annoying, people’s feet smell and it will occur that an 80-year-old grandfather or a cute toddler will be body searched. (You may recall former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, was recently randomly selected for a pat down at JFK. It happens.) Keep your cool, wear clean socks (and undergarments, unless you’re a commando queen) and carry travel-sized personal care items in your purse or carry on.
9. Don’t accept food or beverages from strangers or strange people. Keep an eye on your own eats and drinks.
10. Stay at hotels that have secure locks and peepholes on their guest doors and use passkeys (v. regular keys, which are almost a thing of the past but still in use in various parts of the world).
11. If you are traveling with a group, remove your name tag when you are out and about in public. Do not respond to a stranger calling you by name in that s/he may have obtained that information from an event listing or in some other manner. (The exception; If a police official addresses you, respond but ensure that the person is in fact a law enforcement officer and if possible, have someone else in your company.)
12. IMPORTANT!!: WHEN TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN, HAVE A CURRENT PICTURE OF THEM (NOT IN A HALLOWEEN COSTUME) WITH YOU. Also, all of the same rules apply as do when at home, i.e., do not talk to strangers, don’t wander off and only respond to police in uniform. Make sure they know where you are staying (name of the hotel or friend/relatives’ home).
13. Check with your health insurance company before you leave. This information will come in handy should you or a travel member become ill or injured.
That’s our baker’s dozen list of travel safety tips.
Travel smart, and enjoy your trip!
Our Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.
As always, stay safe.
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