Safety On The Road

In light of the Boston Marathon bombing last week, it was suggested to me to do a segment on safety while traveling.  Your safety while traveling also relates back to preparing to be safe before you leave home.  We’ll go over a few things to consider.

Let’s start with social media.  Do you share your posts with friends, friends of friends or everyone?  Be very careful when sharing your traveling plans on a social media site.  It’s definitely better if you have someone housesitting or neighbors watching your home, but think twice about who you share with before you let the world know that you will be out of town, maybe out of the country for a set period of time.

Preparing your house should also be given consideration.  Make sure to unplug non-essential appliances, especially ones that have a heat component.  You should consider turning off the water.  You never know when a line to your washer could spring a leak and cause a flood in your home.  Adjusting the thermostat isn’t necessarily a safety measure, but it makes good sense.  If you are not home, there is no reason to maintain comfortable temperatures in the house.  Finally, make sure doors and windows are locked.  If you have a garage door opener, consider locking it or unplugging it so someone doesn’t open your garage and get in to your home while you are gone.

If you are flying to your destination, make sure to allow plenty of time for check in and security screening.  If you are in a rush, mistakes can happen.  Always be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your luggage.  Don’t ever carry something for someone you don’t know or ask strangers to watch your bags while to run into a shop or use the restroom.  Most airport restrooms are large enough that you can bring a carry on in with you.  Or if you are traveling with others, take turns if you have the time.

Know where your wallet and id are located and keep tabs on them.  In a crowded area pickpockets could be in full force.  Before you know it, they can pull a wallet from a back pocket and be gone.  Many times they will work in pairs too where one person will bump you or distract you so that the other person pulls the wallet without being detected.

Speaking of your wallet, you should organize your cash in a way so that it’s easy to pull out the smaller bills.  I once traveled with someone who had all the larger bills on the outside and pulled out a stack of bills to flip through them and find a single to pay for a pack of gum.  Would-be thieves can see that she had a lot of money with her and would be a great target.

If you are using a car, make sure you keep all valuables in the trunk if possible when you are not in the vehicle.  Know the rules of the road in the state or country you are in before you travel.  Simple things like whether or not you are allowed to turn right on red can help you.  In these days with so much road rage, the last thing you want to is set off another driver because you aren’t following the rules.

You’ll want to make sure that all of your luggage, including your carry-ons have an identification tag inside.  In addition to the ID on the outside of the bag, I also throw a business card inside, just in case the ID on the outside gets lost.

Do your research ahead of time for the hotel or resort at which you are staying.  Don’t assume that you will be safe because it’s a large complex or a company you feel wouldn’t compromise your safety.  There are situations that could be totally out of your control or their control.  Keep track of your room key and know where your room is located.

If you are on a cruise, don’t let your guard down and think that being a closed environment you are safer.  Lock up your valuables in your safe.  Don’t let your children roam around on their own.  Don’t leave room keys, cameras, shoes unattended by the pool where they could easily be taken.

Take photos of your valuables and for that matter of your luggage contents before packing to help with any claims for missing luggage.  It’s much easier to recreate your list of missing contents and your bags themselves.  Take a photo of your identification information and leave it on your memory card.  This way if someone finds your camera or memory card, they can look at your pictures and figure out easily who the camera belongs to.

Keep a photocopy (preferable in color) of your IDs and credit cards, both front and back, and keep a copy in a separate place with you.  It’s also smart to have a copy at home as well, if someone you trust has a key to get into your home if necessary.  That way if your wallet is stolen, you have the numbers to call the credit card companies to report the stolen cards.  The copy of your ID may not be accepted by itself, but with other documentation it will help.  I once had my driver’s license drop out of my pocket either after the TSA screeners or while on the plane and when I reached my destination, it was gone.  I still had two flights where I needed to go through security.  I was able to do so without the actual ID because I had other forms of ID in addition to a photocopy to be accepted.  It was much more difficult, but doable because I was prepared.

Know what you can and can’t bring with you on a plane, on a cruise, to a theme park.  Many states have concealed carry laws but just because you are licensed in one doesn’t mean you are licensed in all.  Additionally, some places you are traveling may have a zero tolerance policy.  Know before you go.

The most important thing to remember is to be aware of your surroundings.  Make your safety your responsibility.  Don’t expect that others will keep you safe.  Bad things can and do happen, but the more prepared you are, the better you will be in the long run.

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