General Travel Safety
What to Bring
Some items suggested to be brought on any trip, and kept with you when you travel:
- spare set of clothing
- cellular phone
- traveler's checks, not cash
- phone numbers of all credit and debit card companies
- identification (passport if going out of the country)
- pack lightly so you always have one hand free
- do not use backpacks, fanny packs, pocketbooks or exterior pockets. If you do have to use a bag with a strap, wear it with the strap across your body
Airport Safety: from the lots to the plane, how you can stay safe
Give a relative or friend a copy of your itinerary, including contact numbers. Make sure all reservations are guaranteed for transportation and accommodations to avoid having to locate alternates upon arrival, which may distract you and make you more vulnerable. Take along travelers' checks, which are harder to use and easier to replace than cash. Store some on your person and some in a safe location in your carry on; if one set is stolen or lost, you will have the others to use until you can replace them. Be sure to keep the phone number to the agency issuing the checks in several locations in case you need to replace any. Do the same with phone numbers for credit cards, debit cards, and any identification (passports, etc.).
Check in with a friend or relative when you arrive in your destination. Consider developing a plan where they can alert local authorities, airline police, etc., if you do not report in within a specified amount of time (allowing for unpredictable travel delays, check-in delays, etc.). Surf the web for the police departments in your destination and any stopovers and provide this to your friend or relative, an set up several check-ins.
Parking Your Car
Park in a well-lit designated areas. Park near an entrance, elevator or shuttle stop if possible. If you see someone suspicious, keep going and drive to an emergency phone or to where you can phone the police. If you return late at night, request an escort to your car from the airport police, or move with a group. You may want to write down where you parked.
Check Your Bags at the Curb
If possible, check your bags at the curb before parking your car. This will allow you to travel hand free from the lot to the airport, and will make you less of a target.
Unsolicited 'Baggage Handlers'
If someone approaches you not in uniform, and/or not at the airline curb, ask for identification before handing them your belongings. Some thieves use people's need for assistance as a way to walk off with your baggage, or as a way to get access to you or your vehicle.
Pack a Carry On Well
Be sure to include a change of clothes, your travel information, emergency contact numbers and cellular phone if you own one. Also pack in your carry on anything else you would not want to lose if your luggage is lost or misdirected.
Keep Your Unchecked Bags With You at All Times
Do not leave unchecked baggage unattended. Not only do airports now confiscate unattended baggage, but it could be easily stolen or accidentally picked up by another passenger. Be sure to mark your luggage with your name and phone number, and address so it can be returned to you if lost. If you are a woman, you may want to list your first initial rather than full name. Consider putting a card inside your luggage with the same information in case an outside label is lost or broken off.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
If you are rushing to get on your plane, you may lose track of your luggage and may be less aware of your surroundings. Take your time.
Lock Your Luggage
This is an inexpensive deterrent.
Consider What Luggage You Carry
Thieves are attracted to expensive, soft-sided luggage. Hard-sided luggage may be able to better protect your luggage.
Don't Bring Restricted Items on Board
Check below to see what airlines restrict for safety reasons:
In the Terminal
Do not allow yourself to be separated visually from your luggage. If you stop to check in, to eat, or to shop, keep your luggage in your hands. Some thieves watch as people grab a bite to eat and take luggage that is right next to its owner, but not in sight. At the x-ray security desk, watch for people blocking your view of your carry on items. Some thieves work in pairs, one blocking your view of your items, the other grabbing your items as they come out of the machine. Be especially cautious with valuable items, such as laptop computers or other electronic equipment.
On the Plane
Be sure to wear your seatbelt, and to pay attention to the safety briefing provided by the airline. Know where the closest emergency exit is (in front of you and behind you), and count the seat rows to reach those emergency exits. Remember not to release personal information to fellow passengers (like home address, phone, email address, etc.).
When making your plans, consider scheduling your trip with no layovers. This will not only reduce your travel time, but reduce the possibility of danger. Consider, too, where your layovers and final destinations are and avoid less safe destinations. Have someone you know pick you up at your final destination if possible. If not, travel with a group to your rental car facilities, hotel accommodations, or other egress from the airport.
Park only in well-lit areas. Before getting out of your car, check to see if there is anyone around. Do not get out of your car if you feel uncomfortable. You can even drive to another location, or to a location at which you can call the authorities if you need to do so.
Keep all doors locked. Be watchful when you stop for any reason of people approaching your car; there are many scams worldwide. Be wary of people asking directions, offering merchandise or services at your vehicle; many are a way of robbing you or stealing your vehicle.
Hotel Safety Tips: from check-in to check-out
Check Your Surroundings
If you feel unsafe with the location of your hotel, or with the interior security of the hotel, trust your instincts and get reservations at another hotel. Even if there is an additional cost involved, your safety is most important. When you are checking in, be aware of people around you.
Check In Time
Try to arrange your travel plans so you check in during daylight hours. More people will be around, and you will be able to see potential risks better.
Keep Your Belongings
When you check in, while resting, or while dining, keep your belongings with you in your reach and in your sight.
Credit Card Protection
Do not leave your card on the counter when you register, and when your card is returned to you, be sure it is your card.
Don't Announce Your Room Number Out Loud
Anyone could be listening. If the desk clerk does this, explain your concerns and ask to be changed to another room. If a thief identifies you as a target, at least s/he will have to work to find out what room you are in; something many thieves do not have the time to do without others becoming suspicious.
Get a Card
Ask for two business cards from the hotel, one to place near your phone so you have the hotel information, and one for you to take when you are out of the hotel so you can call or arrange to return. Many hotel chains have more than one hotel in major destinations.
Lock Your Door
And keep it locked whether you are in your room or out and about. Be sure the deadbolt on your door works correctly, and keep the safety bar locked when you are in the room. If there are any defects in the doors or locks on your room, notify hotel staff and ask for immediate repair, or to be relocated.
Know How to Get Out
Locate the nearest emergency exit and stairwells. Check for any obstructions and report them to hotel staff.
Count how many doors away the emergency exit is in case the floor is filled with smoke. Identify two directions of egress in case there is fire blocking your first route. Locate the nearest fire extinguisher and fire pull box.
Keep Your Key or Card
And put it in the same location whenever you return to your room so you do not misplace it - preferably next to your bed. This will also assure you will know where it is in case of an emergency.
When You Leave
Check your room carefully to be sure you have all of your belongings, particularly money, travellers' checks, credit cards, keys (including your hotel keys/card). Check to be sure you did not leave anything with your name, home address and/or telephone number to avoid unwanted contacts down the road. Also, do not leave copies of itineraries, reservations, or anything else that could let someone know where you are headed next.
Car Rental Safety
Reserve a Car You are Comfortable Driving
If you have never driven an SUV or a van before, do you want to wait until you are on vacation to try? Do you have a lot of luggage that won't fit comfortably with you and any passengers in a compact car? Reserve a car that fits your driving style and your vacation needs. Keep in mind many car rental agencies require drivers to be 21 years or older.
Check the Seatbelts
Before you leave the rental lot, check the seatbelts, horn, brake lights, and head lights to be sure they function. Report any malfunctions to the company immediately for replacement of the vehicle or repair. Do not drive an unsafe vehicle off the lot.
Completely Familiarize Yourself With the Car
Learn the location of every knob, control, switch, etc. Pay particular attention to windshield wipers, emergency brakes, door locks, etc. Don't wait for bad weather or an emergency to have to find these. Note, too, where the gas tank is and whether or not it is full.
Note the Vehicle Information
Write down the make, model, color, and tag number of your vehicle. Even though this information is on the key chain, if you lose your keys or they are stolen, you will be able to have this information when you contact the rental agency.
Know where you are going; get driving in advance.
Credit Card Safety
Releasing the Number
Never release your credit card number to someone you do not trust.
Assess your Surroundings
Be aware when using your credit card or a calling card of people who may be watching or listening to you. Wait until you feel comfortable to proceed; leave the area temporarily if you have to.
SAFETY While Walking Touring< H2>
How you Present Yourself
Avoid flashy - or too casual clothes - which may identify you as a tourist and a possible target for scams and pickpockets. Try to get your bearings and directions before going out in public. Find a quiet but safe area to re-assess your route if you need to.
Pickpockets and Scam
Be aware that many such dangers utilize distractions - someone will have a fight, a mother with a baby will gather attention, someone may spill something on you, etc., in order to divide your attention while someone picks your pocket.
Do Not Travel Alone
Whenever possible, try to travel with someone else.
- Wear Your Money or Credit Cards inconspicuously.
- Do not ask for directions from strangers; seek out business owners, information centers or local authorities.
- With today's political climate, do not advertise the country in which you reside to avoid being targeted for your nationality.
- Separate cash and credit cards so that if one is stolen you still have the other.
- Use traveler's checks. Keep a list in a safe place (not on your person) of the numbers and values. Cash only those you need. Avoid carrying cash if you can.
Weather Tips and Resources
Check the Weather Channel for the weather where you are going.
Cold Weather Destinations
Dress in layers, and be sure to cover your head and extremities with weather-resistant clothing. Be sure to eat high-energy foods, drink plenty of fluids (but avoid caffeine), and reduce your exposure to the cold as much as possible.
Hot Weather Destinations
Be sure to use sunscreen whenever you are outdoors, even if you are accustomed to being in the sun. Wear light, breathable clothing. Drink lots of water. Wear a hat that gives you shade and is breathable. Use plenty of sunscreen. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities in the hottest part of the day. Seek shade often. If your car has been parked in the sun for any period of time, open the doors and windows and allow heat to escape before getting in. Use caution handling the seat belt latch. It will be very hot.
Water Safety Tips
- Don't Drink and Drive: alcohol affects your judgment, your motor coordination, and your ability to regulate your body temperature.
- Know the Water: Is the water approved for swimming, boating, fishing, or personal watercraft? Is the water deep enough for boating or diving? Are their lifeguards? Do you have a buddy to swim with?
- Is the Waterway Overgrown? Overgrowth can entangle you, and can be a hiding place for animals.
- Is your Equipment Safe? Make sure any equipment functions well, does not leak? Does it match your skill level.
- Are People Around You Being Safe? If someone is speeding, drinking on the waterways, or being unruly, go somewhere else and/or report the unsafe activity immediately.
- How Does the Water Look? If the water in a pool is cloudy or discolored, do not go in.
- Is There Safety Equipment? Does it work? Does the pool look safe?
- Does it Look Like Rain? Lightning can sneak up on you without much warning. If you see a storm approaching, get out of the water.
Internet Travel Safety Resources
- Safety Resources from Safe Within
- Auto Safety Resources from Safe Within
- See also the State Department's Travel Advisories