Follow these tips for safer travel in the U.S. and abroad.
Before You Leave
Preventing crime during travel starts with making sure your home is protected while you’re away. The key is to make it look like you never left.
- Keep your shades and blinds in their normal positions.
- Make sure all your door and window locks are in working order and be sure to use them.
- Put several lights on timers and set them to go on and off at various times.
- If you have trusted neighbors, let them know where you are going and when you expect to return. Ask them to keep an eye on your home and tend to your mail and newspapers. Leave them the capability to contact you in case of an emergency.
- Arrange to have your grass mowed or snow shoveled while you’re gone.
- If you leave a car, arrange to have it moved ever so often. It will give the impression that you are still coming and going.
Packing Your Bags
- Clean out your wallet or purse before you go. Take only essential credit cards or traveler’s checks instead of cash whenever possible.
- Carry your purse close to your body, or your wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, take a “fanny pack” or wear a money pouch under your clothes.
- Pack as light as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you a more vulnerable target.
- Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage. Keep anything of value, such as medicine and jewelry, in a carry-on that stays on you.
- If you are going on an extended vacation, consider shipping large bags to your destination in advance. For your return trip, mail bulky new purchases home, or ask merchants to do it for you.
- Soft-sided luggage is attractive to thieves.
Out and About
- Do not display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
- Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
- Stick to well-lit, well-traveled streets at all times.
- Always lock your car when it’s parked, even if the stop is brief. Keep valuables out of sight. Do not advertise that you are a tourist by leaving maps and guidebooks on the seat or dashboard.
- Traveling safely with your family means sticking together. Keep an eye on your children at all times. Stick together and make sure your children know where you are staying and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated.
At the Hotel
- Do not answer the door in a hotel or motel room without verifying who it is. If a person claims to be an employee, call the front desk and ask if someone from their staff is supposed to have access to your room and for what purpose.
- When returning to the hotel or motel late in the evening, use the main entrance. Be observant and look around before entering parking lots.
- Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all of the locking devices provided.
- Do not needlessly display guest room keys in public or carelessly leave them on restaurant tables, at the swimming pool, or other places where they can be easily stolen.
- Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
- Check to see that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
- If you see any suspicious activity, report your observations to the management.
- Do not leave valuables in your room. Place all valuables in the hotel or motel safe deposit box.
- Do not invite strangers to your room.
In the Car
- Make certain that the car is mechanically sound and in top road-worthy condition. Check the belts, hoses, fluid levels, tires, and brakes. The spare tire should be inflated and ready to use.
- Have nutritious snacks and at least a quart of water per person for emergencies.
- Always keep the following things in your car: a flashlight; a small but complete first-aid kit, including your prescription medications in case you are delayed; flares or warning lights; extra water; and antifreeze.
- Changing a tire or repairing your car at the side of the road is dangerous. Whenever possible, call a tow truck. If you are unable to get a phone, remember to pull completely off the road to work on your vehicle, and never work under your car on the driver’s side near busy traffic.