When is your next vacation?
You spend HOURS planning a great trip. How much time do you spend to secure yourself? Click To Tweet
While summer is considered the traditional vacation season, for empty nesters and midlifers, traveling off season in the fall (September and October) or winter (January and February) are actually the best times for less crowds and travel deals. We went to France and Switzerland in late October/early November. While it was a little cold and we had some rain, we didn’t mind and just chalked it up as part of the adventure.
Whenever and wherever you travel, it is important to be “safety aware.” I heard Detective Kevin Coffey give a travel safety tips lecture at the LA Times 2015 Festival of Books titled, “Street Smart, Street Safe: What Every Traveler Must Know.” Coffey is the leading authority on travel crime and how to prevent it, having trained America’s business travelers for over 10 years. His client list includes ExxonMobil, Visa, Motorola, and many others. Kevin is an active 33-year police veteran and founder of the Airport Crimes Investigations Detail. In addition to speaking and training, Mr. Coffey is also the founder of Corporate Travel Safety, which provides consulting services and travel safety products. Basically, Mr. Coffey is “passionate about helping travelers stay safe and keep safe.”
Mr. Coffey pointed out that as a traveler, you spend HOURS planning your trip. Then he asked, “How much time do you spend to secure yourself?”
Travel safety tips before your trip
- Prepare a “What if” File. Things to have in this file: copies of credit cards and passports and what to do if they are stolen; extra set of keys; medical information that includes medicine and eye glass prescriptions; names and addresses of healthcare providers; and who to contact should someone break in to your house while you are gone.
- Sanitize your wallet. Remove most credit cards. Travel with only what you will need and keep it skinny.
- Put emergency cards in multiple locations. Have a card in all luggage, carry-on bags, and your wallet. Include an email and a cell phone number on the card (what good would your home address do if you are out of town?)
- Pack your luggage for safety. Never put valuables like computers in checked baggage. Use covered luggage tags so no one can outwardly identify you and include a phone number of someone not at home as another contact point. Because zippers can be easily broken and your luggage contents removed, use a TSA approved lock.
Travel safety tips at the airport and on the plane
- If possible, don’t check your bag. Coffey said there are 2 kinds of luggage: lost and carry on.
- Properly handle your carry-on luggage. “You don’t know who is on the airplane or who is sitting next to you. Expect that someone is going to get in to your luggage,” warned Kevin. Put your bag in the bin across the aisle from where you are sitting so yo can keep an eye on it. Put bag upside down so the outside pockets aren’t exposed. Store valuables at the bottom of your bag, under your clothes, so they are harder to get to.
- Go immediately to baggage claim. Don’t dally in the airport. You be the only one to touch your luggage.
- Outsmart pickpockets. Mr. Coffey said that pickpockets are very skilled with their craft and that they love tourists. Men should avoid using their back pockets (sucker pockets) and keep their wallet in a front pocket. Ladies should never hang their purse on their shoulder, especially the shoulder on the street side (snatch thieves) Instead, use a cross body purse. Avoid purses with detachable straps. Secure and loop purse straps to restaurant chairs. Have backpacks zipped up at all times. The most vulnerable times for pickpockets are when you are in a crowded area.
- Be hotel wise. You don’t know when the last time the room lock was changed. Beware of fake WiFi hot spots (never log in to banking accounts when traveling) and fake pizza flyers (can steal your credit card info). When you leave your room, pull the door tight. Weather fluctuations impact door jams.
My husband has never been a fan of checked luggage. That trip to Europe we took? We were gone nine days and he insisted on only carry-on luggage. Good thing because our first plane was late leaving and we missed our connector flight in Switzerland. If we hadn’t have used carry-on bags, who knows when our luggage would have caught up with us.
Since hearing this lecture, the first travel safety tip I’ve started using is putting my carry-on luggage across the aisle from me. I never noticed before how many people get up during a flight to go through bags in the overhead compartment.
At the end of his presentation, Mr. Coffey said that while the chance of having something happen is a small percentage, that small percentage of risk can turn your vacation totally upside down. It is definitely better to be travel safety savvy.
Mr. Coffey shared a lot of great travel safety tips to be a more conscientious traveler. For more travel safety tips and travel information, go to his web site.
Which travel safety tip did you find most helpful?