Travel plans are on many minds as this is the time of year when many people will enjoy time away from home. Traveling to new destinations 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 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 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. Share your complete trip itinerary and where you could be reached in case of an emergency with a trusted friend or relative. Also, let your alarm company know. Depending where you live, advise your local police so a watch order can be placed on your home.
▪ Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash. Contact your credit card company before going on a trip to inform them where your destination is going to be. This notification will enable your account to be flagged, so that your purchases won't be suspect by being made in a place other than your hometown. 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 the card companies to flag any purchase over $200.
▪ Be careful not to flash money, jewelry or other valuables when on the trip. Women use fanny packs and men keep your wallets in the front pockets. 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 make sure your hotel door is secured and locked at all times. Consider leaving the lights on and the television/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, back up your cellphone contacts in case your device 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 for advice of areas to be careful in.
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.