Several years ago, shortly after I met my fiancée she went on a trip to Mexico with a group of friends. I remember it well because she was so excited to get away from me for a few days and relax in Mexico. She had been to Mexico before and even spoke Spanish so her “comfort” level was high.
That lasted for a good ten minutes after landing when she had her purse stolen. She was with her group waiting for a local bus to pick them up. They were all right in the main area of the airport with lots of people around. Maybe that was the problem. She had set her purse down for a split second and BAM- it was gone.
The local police could really do nothing. It wasn’t until she got back a few days later did she realize the damage done. The thief had managed to charge $2500 to one of her credit cards in the matter of a few hours before she had the wits to call the credit card company. In just a few hours mind you. An expensive lesson!!
So when you get ready to go on your family vacation this summer remember that safety for you and your possessions starts before you leave home.
1. Make sure your home has that “lived in” look. Have a neighbor get your mail and newspaper. Leave some lights on, but close your curtains. Consider leaving a radio or TV on. Make a list of credit card numbers and phone numbers for the card companies just in case you lose one. Have someone mow the lawn or shovel snow.
2. We all want our toys with us when we travel-cell phones, pda’s etc. but consider leaving them at home. Travel as lightly as possible. Cash, credit cards, passport can be carried in fanny packs carried in front of you or a hidden undergarment money belt. Make sure the fanny pack has a steel cable so it can’t be cut. When traveling overseas use traveler checks for added safety.
3. Never leave your bags unattended. Watch them like a hawk-ask my fiancée for further guidance on this one. In airports this tends to make security personnel very uneasy. Unattended bags are easy mark for professionals who make a living off of others. Travelers are especially vulnerable at arrival and departure points-airports, train stations, bus terminals, boat docks where there is a lot of activity and confusion-and usually a lot of stress. Under those conditions it is easy to be distracted.
4. When checking into a hotel room, do the obvious. Always lock the door and secure the safety chain. Make sure it is your room. Check adjoining doors and all windows. Look in closets to make sure no one is there. Learn where the exits are in the hotel in case of an emergency. If possible have some type of security gadget for your room like a keep I or door stop alarm.
5. When traveling overseas images of the “Ugly American” come to mind. Be especially wary of pick pockets and scam artists. It is entirely appropriate to be on your guard on all occasions because unfortunately a lot of folks don’t like Americans.
So before you head out on your family summer vacation do a little preparation at home. If you follow these steps you are more likely to have a trouble free trip and much more fun.