Don’t Become a Target While on Vacation

Thursday, June 06 at 10:25 AM
Category: Personal Finance

After much planning, preparing and organizing, you're finally ready for your long-awaited vacation! To ensure the best vacation memories, consider following these tips for staying safer before you leave home and while you're traveling.

Before you leave
Make your home look lived in. Put timers on lights, stop mail and newspaper delivery and enlist a neighbor to keep an eye on your house. Leave your itinerary and contact information with a neighbor, family member or both in case of emergency. Make arrangements for your lawn to be mowed and any other routine maintenance to be done. Don't leave a key hidden outside the house — burglars are skilled at finding hiding spaces. And of course, lock all doors and windows.

Go through your wallet and take only those cards you will need for traveling. Pack valuables like jewelry and electronics in your carry-on bag so it will always be with you. Carry a small flashlight with fresh batteries in case of emergency.

Contact your bank and let someone know your travel destinations. Banks monitor for fraudulent card activity, and it’s helpful to know if out-of-the-ordinary use will take place. Make sure your bank has a working email address and cell phone number, too, just in case there’s a problem with an account.

While traveling
Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Don't flash your cash. Use travelers' checks or credit cards when possible.

Be aware of how you dress — if not in a tourist destination, then you don't want to look like a tourist who might be a target for thieves. Think about what your attire says to those around you. Naïve tourist? Rich guest? Offensive visitor? Especially when traveling in foreign countries, be sensitive and respectable with your wardrobe.

Rental cars 
Before pulling out of the parking space, familiarize yourself with the controls. Have a clear understanding of where you are going. Study a map, be sure your GPS is programmed or understand the directions you've been given before you start driving.

Car security
Minimize the fact you are not from the area. Your license plate may give you away as a visitor, but there are steps you can take to stay safer. Be aware of where you park, and consider what the environment will be like at the time you plan to return. The spot you park in at noon may look very different at midnight. Check the front and back seats when getting in the car. Always lock the door as soon as getting in. When leaving the car, be sure to place all maps, guidebooks and other evidence of being a tourist out of sight. Never leave valuables in plain sight.

When checking in, ask the front desk associate not to announce your room number; rather it should be written to prevent anyone from overhearing it. Grab two business cards with the hotel name and address; keep one beside the bed so you know where you are if you have to report an emergency, and keep another with you so you can find your way back to the hotel when you go out. Learn where the emergency exits are. Count the number of doors to the exit and write it on the card you leave beside the bed. If there is an emergency during the night, grab the card and your room key. If you're crawling down a smoky hall you'll be able to count the doors to the escape.

Always use the deadbolt lock when you're in your room, especially when showering or sleeping. When you leave your room, leave the TV on and place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. Both give the impression someone is there. If you need your room made up, call housekeeping and request the sign be left in place after cleaning.

Stay healthy
In areas where water may not be purified, drink bottled water and beware of using ice cubes. If you must drink the water, boil it first. Wash your hands often and bring hand sanitizer. Get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong. If you have allergies to food, animals or plants, be aware of their presence and have a plan for responding to a reaction. Wear sunscreen, protective clothing and sunglasses. Pack an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses in case one gets lost or broken.

Know what your health care policy covers and how it works when you are away from home. Bring phone numbers for your insurance company and any doctors you may need to call while traveling. Bring the regular medications you take at home, and carry a list of the dosage and frequency, and a written description of any medical conditions you have to help medical personnel in an emergency situation. Don’t forget to bring some basics — acetaminophen or ibuprofen, an antihistamine, Band-Aids and antibiotic cream.

Relax and have fun!
With a little advance planning and some common sense while traveling, your dream vacation will become the reality you worked so hard to plan. Enjoy!

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert when specific advice is needed.

Tags: Consumer Protection, Financial Education
Larry Schwartz on 6/6/2013 at 7:38 PM
Another great idea, regardless of whether you are on vacation or not, is to photo copy EVERYTHING front and back in your wallet a couple times a year and keep it in a secure place (your home safe, or your Arvest Safety Deposit Box) just in case you become separated from your wallet.
Arvest Blog Admin on 6/6/2013 at 7:46 PM

Larry - Thanks for the idea!

Ieshia on 6/18/2013 at 2:56 PM
Very helpful tips!!!
James on 6/18/2013 at 5:04 PM
Very relevant and practical insights.
Boyd F Fisher on 6/19/2013 at 10:46 PM
Travel's Checks? Where do you get those anymore and who will cash them? That suggestion makes me think this sight has not been updated in many years. Why not mention the Arvest Unidos card? If you always leave a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your hotel door, when will the room be cleaned?
Mark on 6/20/2013 at 5:35 AM
Thanks. I appreciate the tips~!
Arvest Blog Admin on 6/20/2013 at 9:57 PM

Boyd – Thanks for reading through our tips for staying safe while on vacation. While travelers’ checks may be used less frequently now days they can still be safer than carrying large amounts of cash. Arvest Unidos® is another option for money management; thanks for mentioning it! Most hotels will clean your room when you ask them to, as long as you mention you deliberately placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. We just wanted to provide some ideas to help keep you, your family and your belongings safe!

Bevelyn on 6/28/2013 at 1:39 AM
Thanks for such relevent information.

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