By Christina VanGinkel
Whether traveling within your home country or abroad, traveling safety is an issue you should be concerned about. This is not to say that you should be so caught up in worries about traveling, which can quickly build around cautionary travel issues, that you have no fun. It means that taking a few measures upfront of your travel plans and during your travels, can assure you that you have done, and are doing, everything that you could to keep yourself and family safe.
Being aware of your surroundings is the best way I can think of to stay on top of safety. Too often, we become lax with our possessions, such as our purse or wallet, and feel that if we are in a happy go lucky place, say a theme park, no one is there to be stealing, that they are there for the same reasons we are. That is the wrong attitude to have and the quickest way to become the subject of a robbery or theft. Sadly, there are people out there for just that purpose, looking for an easy mark to steal from, pickpocket, even get their keys so they can go back to their hotel room, and commit a robbery. Simple things like keeping your purse in front of you, and not hanging it carelessly on the back of a restaurant chair, putting your wallet in a waist strap that is secured under your shirt, and not setting packages down and then turning our backs to them for even a minute, can all have a huge, positive impact against these scenarios playing out for real. One additional note about not watching your personal belongings; Not only could you become the target of a thief, but with something like your luggage, if you are not in control of it every step of the way, it is easy for someone to add something to your baggage. Items such as drugs or weapons could be slipped into unwatched, unlocked luggage, so be extra vigilant that you are always in total control of these items until they are in the safety of the airline, train, or bus company that you are traveling with.
Avoid dressing above the crowd. By this, I mean, that it is not wise to wear flashy jewelry, expensive shoes, or boots, even clothing that clearly says look at me, because I am rich. Even if you are an average person, wearing something expensive can draw the eye of a less than honest person. Save the flash for home, for when you are among friends and family. Even if you were wealthy, and staying in what you consider a hotel that has scruples, and a secure safe for those valuable you feel the need to bring, I would still recommend not dressing to high style. Save it for when you are not vacationing. During the actual travel part, such as flying, dress comfortably, but not flashy, so as not to alert an unscrupulous person to your luggage also.
Do not wander away from the crowds. Stay in populated, well-lit areas. Thieves look for the solo traveler that drifts away from the crowd. Common sense goes a long way with issues such as these. Avoid heading to your hotel room alone, and be sure to use the locks provided. They are there for a reason, and not locking your room door, even for a minute, say for a quick run to the vending machines, is foolish at best and could potentially be extremely dangerous.
Make duplicates of your travel documents and keep them in separate parts of your luggage. Also, break up your traveler’s checks and other forms of money so that in the event you are robbed, you maintain the chance of not being totally without any funds. Be sure to keep a list of important phone numbers for any companies you may have to contact, on your person, or left with a person back home that you can call in an emergency, so that items such as stolen credit cards can be instantly cancelled. When using a credit card, also make a mental note at each transaction that you retain your receipt and that you get back your own card, and not someone else’s. This happens more than one would ever believe and it can be hassle getting it straightened out.