Community Voices

Traveling? Here’s how to keep you and your possessions safe

Local and international travelers wait in line for the security checkpoint at Miami International Airport on May 26, 2016.
Local and international travelers wait in line for the security checkpoint at Miami International Airport on May 26, 2016. Miami Herald

Travel plans are on many minds at this time of year.

Traveling to new destinations is fun and enjoyable, although it can 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 victim of a crime:

▪  When booking your trip online, always consider a major travel site whose reputation you are familiar with or comes highly recommended. I usually go direct 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 read thoroughly the fine print and all agreements relating to the cancellation terms and penalties that could be involved.

▪  For personal safety, make sure someone knows your travel destination plans. That includes providing that person with a thorough itinerary of your trip, and where you could be reached in case of an emergency. Also, let your alarm company know. Depending on where you live, advise your local police so a watch order can be placed on your home.

▪  Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash with you. Contact your credit card company before going on a trip to inform them where you will be traveling to. This notification will allow a fraud alert to be placed on your card, and your purchases won't be suspect by being made in different areas than normal purchases are made. Have the telephone number of the credit/debit card company available in the event the card is stolen or lost. I even go as far as telling them that no purchase over $200 is allowed since I know I am not going to buy anything that costs more than that.

▪  Be careful not to flash money, jewelry or other valuables when on the trip. Women use fanny packs and men 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 peep hole before opening the door. Always have your hotel door secure and locked at all times. Consider leaving the lights on and the television/radio on when you are not in the room.

▪ 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 the local police department for advice on areas I should stay out of. Traveling to a new place is exciting, but in order to enjoy it we need to take some good steps first.

Wishing all the Dads a blessed Happy Fathers’ Day.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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