Getting ready to book a trip for work or pleasure? Follow these travel safety tips to give yourself some added peace of mind.
Before You Travel
- Book your travel and lodging through trusted travel agents and online platforms. When booking online, keep all communication and transactions within the website / platform.
- Choose a hotel or vacation rental that is not in a high-crime neighborhood.
- Scan and print a hard copy of your passport, driver’s license, and any other forms of ID you may need.
- Don’t use social media to broadcast where you are going or where you’ll be staying. Save the social media posts for when you return home. This is more about preventing crime at home, since a post like this lets everybody know your house is likely empty.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance can protect against the loss of non-refundable travel costs, such as airfare, hotel, and tour expenses. Some types of travel insurance offer protection against losses that may occur due to medical emergencies, damage to personal property, and even death.
In Your Hotel or Vacation Rental
Pay attention to your surroundings: You don’t have to be paranoid—just cautious. Be on the lookout for anyone showing unusual interest in what you are doing or anyone who just doesn’t seem to belong.
Other facilities: Pay attention to your room key and other belongings while you are using the pool, hot tub, exercise facility, breakfast room, or any other hotel amenity. If you’re concerned about being able to keep an eye on your room key, you can always have the front desk hold it for you while you’re swimming or working out.
Check your locks: When you enter your room or vacation rental, make sure the door latches securely behind you. Use all locking mechanisms provided: the latch or chain as well as the deadbolt. If your hotel room has a pass-through door, make sure it is latched and locked. Double-check the locks on windows and balcony doors—especially if you are on the first or second floor. Also, it is never a good idea to prop open your door when leaving your room, even if it is just to run down the hall to grab some ice.
Draw those curtains: If you have a nice view from your room or vacation rental, great! Enjoy the scenery and take in the view. But when you’re ready to settle in for the night, draw your shades, curtains, or blinds. Don’t count on the height of an upper-floor room to give you privacy.
Answering the door: If anyone knocks on your door, always be sure to identify that person before opening. If you’re not expecting anyone, don’t open the door. If the person claims to be hotel staff or a worker for the vacation rental, contact the front desk or rental host to verify the person’s identity.
Be parking-aware: Sometimes thieves and predators take advantage of dark parking lots or isolated underground garages to victimize hotel guests. If you’re uncomfortable walking to your car by yourself, you can always ask a hotel employee to accompany you. Or better yet—use the valet and have them bring your car to you.
Be ready to leave: You shouldn’t have to feel “on edge” while you are in your room or vacation rental. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared just in case. Keep your wallet, room or house key, and cell phone next to your bed so you can grab them in case of an emergency.
The right network: If you use the hotel or vacation rental Wi-Fi, make sure you are using the correct wireless network. Most hotel and vacation rental networks require a login and password. It’s easy enough for a hacker to set up a confusingly similar network to lure you in, so if you’re not certain, call the front desk or ask the vacation host.
Lock down your data: Use a VPN connection while you are online, or at least enable your laptop’s firewall and disable file sharing. If your laptop or device asks what type of connection you are using, make sure you identify it as “public.”
Limit your activity: Resist the urge to do your shopping or banking over an unprotected network. Save that stuff for later when you know your connection is secure. Your cellular network is a good option while traveling, since it’s more secure than a public Wi-Fi network.
Avoid becoming an easy target for thieves by protecting your valuables while you are traveling. The best way to protect your valuables is to leave them at home – if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. For the valuables you do need, here are a few tips for keeping them safe.
- Keep the doors and windows locked in your hotel room or vacation rental.
- Many hotels offer in-room safes – use this for storing credit cards, extra cash, and passports. If there is no safe available or if you have larger items you need to keep safe, consider purchasing a portable safe. Another option is to leave valuables in the hotel’s main safe. Make sure to get a receipt for anything you store there.
- Consider investing in protective clothing and/or accessories that will make it more difficult for thieves to steal money and personal items.
- Avoid getting overly intoxicated. When you are in that type of state, you are less aware of your surroundings and it is difficult to defend yourself, making you an easy target for theft.
Heading for Home
Take your stuff: When you check out, be certain you take all your belongings. According to studies, the items most frequently left behind include cell phone chargers, clothes (hanging or in drawers), toiletries, car and house keys, glasses, dentures, and hearing aids.
Concerns about safety don’t need to spoil a vacation or business trip. If you follow the safety tips above, you are much less likely to run into troubles.