Travel plans are on many minds this time of year when many people enjoy vacations away from home. Traveling is fun and enjoyable. It can also be dangerous if safety is not considered while making plans.
I want to share some basic tips to assist you in getting the most out of your trip without fear of becoming a crime victim:
▪ When booking your trip online, always consider a major travel website whose reputation you are familiar with or comes highly recommended. I usually go directly to the airline or hotel site. Be cautious of travel sites that offer discounted prices that are too good to be true. You may not receive the promised tickets or reservations, only to find your money was taken. Be careful when entering your credit card information and see if the website is secure for financial transactions.
▪ When making any travel plans, be careful and thoroughly read the fine print and all agreements relating to cancellation terms and penalties.
▪ For personal safety, always make sure someone knows your travel destination plans and that they have a thorough itinerary of your trip, including where you could be reached in case of an emergency. Also, please let your alarm company know. Depending where you live, advise your local police so a watch order can be placed on your home.
▪ Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. Contact your credit card company before going on a trip to inform it of your destination. This notification will allow a fraud alert to be placed on your card, and your purchases in unusual places won't become suspect. Keep a list of credit/debit card companies and phone numbers in case the cards are stolen or lost.
▪ Be careful not to flash money, jewelry or other valuables during the trip. Wear a fanny pack or keep your wallet in the front pocket. Keep all valuables in the room safe or hotel safe, and leave electronics devices and cameras in the room safe when you're not using them.
▪ Should anyone knock on your door, check through the hotel peephole before opening the door. Always have your hotel door secure and locked at all times. Consider leaving the lights on and the television or radio on when you are not in the room to make it seem as if the room is occupied when you're not there.
▪ If possible download your cellphone contacts to your computer in case your cellphone is lost, and have your provider number handy.
▪ Lastly, before going anywhere do a little research about the area you are visiting, contact their local police department and get advice of places to stay away from.
Traveling to a new place is exciting, but in order to enjoy it we need to take some good steps first.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.