As the weather warms up across much of the U.S., many people are getting ready to head to some of America's top vacation destinations. And while you have your favorite vacation paradise, the bad guys have theirs too.
They are there for much different reasons than you, knowing that they can prey on victims who are A) unfamiliar with the area, B) will have valuables in their vehicles or hotel rooms, C) are willing to be more adventurous since they are away from home, or D) have celebrated a little to much and have had a bit to much to drink.
When you think of vacation safety, it needs to begin before you ever leave home. The Carolina-based security systems company CPI has these suggestions on their website:
- Make sure you have good locks on all exterior doors.
- Close your garage door when away.
- Lock all gates and fences around your property.
- Don't leave anything of value exposed on your property or through open windows.
- Have a trusted friend, neighbor or family member keep an eye on your home while away.
- Store valuables in a safety deposit box.
- Ensure your exterior lighting is working prior to departing.
Once you are comfortable that you are departing a secure environment, then begin to look toward your destination. Few of us know what the local crime is in a vacation destination and many of us take for granted that it must be safe, since it is a tourist destination. Not so. Crime trends both in the US and abroad raise and lower based on numerous conditions throughout the year.
If you are traveling overseas, make sure and check the U. S. Department of State website state.gov/travel. There you will find a plethora of information regarding safety and security for destination locations around the world. Another thing that I do when headed overseas is always register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) at step.state.gov. Once enrolled, you will receive e-mail alerts on your phone while traveling regarding any emergency notifications or warnings issued by the US Department of State for the area you are visiting.
When you arrive at your destination, there are a few things I can recommend that will allow you to relax more and enjoy your stay.
- Leave the designer luggage at home. It is a guaranteed attraction for bad guys who may be casing an airport. You don't want to begin your trip by being followed by unsavory individuals.
- When traveling around a vacation stop, carry as little cash and valuables with you as possible. Credit/ATM cards and minimal jewelry is definitely recommended.
- Men, make sure and carry your wallet in your front pocket. Women, make sure and carry a purse that has an over-the-shoulder strap and wear the strap across your body.
- When you are walking around a metropolitan area during the hours of darkness, always walk in pairs with someone you trust.
- Make sure you utilize the locks on your hotel room door and do not open the door to strangers. If the person at the door says they are with the hotel and you are not sure, just call the front desk on your room phone and verify the persons identity. Also, make sure that you do not leave your room keys unattended by the pool or in public areas.
- Make a copy of your ID/drivers license/passport and leave it back home with someone you trust and make sure that someone back home has your itinerary and your contact information. Just in case a bad situation does occur, the police have someplace to begin to look for you.
Vacations are meant to be fun. A little bit of proactive preparation goes a long way in ensuring a safe, fun summer ahead!