Vacation is an exciting time. But it’s easy to become so focused on having fun that you can forget to be cautious or aware of your surroundings. Here are some tips to help you stay safer.

Plan your travel route in advance and tell a family member or trusted friend your itinerary. Call them when you arrive at your destination.

Make sure your vehicle has a current maintenance check and oil change before making an extended trip. Check the tread and air pressure on your tires, as well.

Leave expensive jewelry, and anything else a thief might want to grab, at home. When possible, leave laptops and tablets at home because not all hotel safes accommodate the size of those items.

Related Post: “Hotel Safety When You Travel

If you take a taxi, compare the driver’s face with the photo on the license before you get in. Make sure they match. If possible, keep your luggage in the back seat with you so you have control over who has access to it.

And check to make sure the child lock is OFF before you get into the back seat.

Wait for a bus/train/subway in well-lit, populated (if possible) areas. Stay awake and alert. And stay off your phone.

Always keep the safety of your loved ones and yourself in mind when deciding to take pictures. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of seeing something unusual up close. The possibility of injury or even death just isn’t worth the risk for that “once in a lifetime” photo.

Some vacation spots are safer than others. So be sure you are aware of the type of crimes that are more likely to happen where you’re headed. Find out which areas you should avoid. Check with the hotel concierge or front desk personnel. Search online, using reputable websites.

“One thing I like to do before I go somewhere new is to ‘explore’ key places via street view on bing or google maps so I’m familiar with the sights. It helps me [to] not look like such a tourist. I’ve used that method to explore subway stations in NYC and the airport in Barcelona. It really helps.” ~Kelly Sayre, The Diamond Arrow Group

Before you leave your room, plan the routes you’re going to take between your hotel and the sites. This helps you avoid wandering into a bad area. And it makes you look less like a tourist, which may attract fewer criminals. Let the front desk know of your daily plans and expected return time, just in case.

Make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave the hotel. Take your charger with you in case your power runs low. (If you’re in a foreign country, be sure to have a plug adaptor so you don’t fry your phone.)

Most predators are looking for someone who appears to be timid, unsure and unaware. The right body language will make them think twice about approaching you. Walk confidently and keep your head up. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. The sites may be spectacular, but don’t forget to glance around for suspicious people occasionally.

If you get lost, don’t stop in the street to look at a map or your phone. Go into a store or restaurant to get your bearings. You’ll be less vulnerable to predators that way.

Watch out for con artists. They could try to scam you out of money with a sob story or overcharge you for something you’re buying. Want a group picture? Don’t trust your camera or phone in the hands of strangers. You may never see it again.

Be wary of strangers who try to get too close to you. You may save your wallet from disappearing. You may even save your life.

Never leave your drink (alcoholic or non) unattended. In some areas, locals drug tourists’ drinks so they can take easy advantage of them. And be suspicious of locals offering free tastings.

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You’ll most likely be safer in a group than you will on your own. But don’t get so caught up in conversation and interaction that you forget to be aware of your surroundings. Also, be sure you have a plan for where/when to meet up in case you get separated and phone service is sketchy.

Pickpockets are common everywhere. They are extremely skilled at pulling wallets out of pockets and purses. Keep your cash and cards close to your body. Separate them and stash them in several hard-to-reach places.

Before leaving for vacation, make copies of all your documents (licenses, insurance cards, passports, etc.). Keep the copies in a secure place (like your hotel rooms safe), and separate from your wallet/purse. If your documents get lost or stolen, you’ll have copies of everything that was taken.

Carry one credit card and only as much cash as you think you’ll need for the day. Use travelers checks that can be replaced if lost or stolen (as long as you’ve complied with your check issuer’s purchase agreement).

Don’t leave any valuables in your room if you can help it. And keep laptops/tablets stowed away out of sight. Use the safe in the room if there is one. However, keep in mind that room safes are not 100% safe from theft. For info on how to make them safer for you, check out this article.

Don’t get drunk in public. There are some vacation areas where the locals count on drunk tourists. It’s so much easier to steal from, kidnap and/or hurt them. Know your limits. Save the heaving drinking for your locked and secured hotel room.

Enjoy your trip, but remain cautious and aware. Have a wonderful and safe vacation!

~Shereen

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