In recent weeks, I’ve had quite a few requests for travel tips on topics ranging from airport security to cruise ship safety. To address all of these issues, we will break these travel topics down one at a time. Our first subject is general travel security.
When taking a trip either on land, sea or by air, it is always a good idea to photograph all of your valuables and make two photocopies of all credit cards, passports, airline tickets and any other important documents that you are taking. Keep one copy at home for your records and take the other copy with you but never to be kept in the same suitcase or carry-bag as the originals.
Whether you are in an airport or a hotel lobby, always keep a close eye on your luggage and carry bags. Thieves who prey on tourists are experts at snatching your valuables right from under your nose and often in a fraction of a second. Ladies should make sure that their purse is zippered closed and men should carry their wallets in a front pants pocket.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Although you will need some currency, keep most of your money in traveler’s checks. American Express checks seem to work the best since they are more widely recognized and fairly easy to replace when stolen or lost. Whenever possible, break up your trip money among others with you, i.e. spouse, older children, etc. but never leave currency or checks in your hotel or motel room. No matter how clever you may think you are, those who have access to your accommodations know all of the hiding places.
When hiding your valuables, remember that thieves make their living being good at taking your stuff. I had a friend who sent for a catalogue of “security safes & devices.” These include common-looking aerosol cans, such as hairspray and cleaning products. They look ordinary enough, but the base of the can screws off to reveal a hollow chamber. When her jewelry was taken from one of these so-called “safes,” she asked the police investigator how the thieves could have known. The detective’s answer was simple: “Thieves send away for the same catalogues that you do.” Most major hotels and motels have safes in the lobby or the rooms themselves, so take advantage of that service.
Some travel safety gurus recommend stashing money and jewelry in those dark brown medicine and prescription bottles. This is clearly a bad idea due to the fact that many thieves steal to support a drug habit. Why then should cash and jewels be stored in “pill bottles?” When traveling with your medications, always hold them among your valuables to be secured and held onto just as tightly as your cash, traveler’s checks, and jewelry.
Since 911, we’ve been inundated with facts and information on airport luggage restrictions as to what is allowed and what is not. For answers to all of your airline travel questions, visit the Transportation Safety Administration’s web site at TSA.gov. There you will find a complete list of regulations and helpful guides for traveling with medicines, children and prohibited items.
Last, but not least, it’s always fun to go off the beaten path once in a while, but for the most part you should have an itinerary and stick to it. Make loved ones at home aware of that itinerary and consider scheduling frequent check-in times, especially when traveling abroad. When hiring a local tour guide, make sure that they are reputable. You can do this through a travel agent or your local AAA office.
Remember: Being aware is your best weapon against being a victim!