Travel can be fun and productive, but it’s important to be safe while travelling, especially if you’re in a foreign country or far from home. So we’ve prepared some suggestions to make travel easier and more pleasant:
Leave a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend, and check in regularly. Remember—announcing your travel on social websites lets everyone know you aren’t home, including thieves. Leave a copy of your passport with them, as well, in case it is lost or stolen, you’ll have the details, making it that much easier to replace.
Have your identification and other papers you must present in your handbag and clip that with a carabiner to your suitcase. People who are fumbling for things make an easy target for thieves.
A paper clip connected to two zipper pulls on your suitcase makes it more trouble to unzip.
Never watch a stranger’s luggage or allow a stranger to watch yours. Don’t accept packages from strangers.
Keep your medicines and any valuables in your carry-on and be prepared to have them searched in security.
On the plane, watch the safety demonstration. Wear your seat belt properly. Make sure you know where the exits are, and read the safety information provided. Don’t carry sharp objects in your clothing (such as pens) and keep your shoes on, because after the crash, you want to be one of the very first people off the plane (but don’t push or shove). Don’t wait for instructions from the stunned crew or stop to collect your valuables, but do grab your coat or sweater if you crash in bad weather. If you look out the exit and there is fire, get to another exit fast.
Travel door alarms are great. They will alert you if your hotel door is opened. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from the hotel staff, but you weren’t expecting anyone, call the desk and check them out. Some thieves pose as hotel staff.
If you will be travelling internationally, check with the State Department here for travel warnings and advisories. You can also enroll in the STEP program, and make sure you know where the local embassy is. If the country doesn’t use the 911 emergency number, find out what they do use and put it in your phone.
Do not allow anything or anyone to distract you! Typically, the person will ask you to read something—a placard, sign, or piece of paper, and then rob you. Sometimes, thieves work in teams or groups. Do not allow yourself to get distracted.
Valuables in plain sight: Examples are laptops, cellphones, wallets, jewelry—all cry out for the opportunistic thief to follow you and quickly snatch it. Consider getting a laptop case that doesn’t actually look like a laptop case. When you go out, it’s best to leave valuables in the room, since having them stolen from your room is infinitely superior to being mugged. Cellphones are easy to snatch.
Credit cards are a security issue, and if you plan to use them when you travel, particularly to a foreign country, alert your credit card company before you go.
Remember you’re a tourist, and try not to look like one. Avoid ‘the tourist look’—big camera around your neck, casual attire when most of the locals are dressed more formally, and tourist guides all scream, “I don’t fit in and am an easy target!” When you explore local places, be extra careful not to get lost or turn onto seedier streets. Along your route, take note of safe-looking places you can duck into quickly if there is a threatening situation, such as a demonstration, or even a flash mob (fun, but a potential goldmine of distracted victims for thieves).
Be safe, everybody!