Sun and sand, mountains and fresh air, a city of glittering skyscrapers or a countryside full of stars, wherever you like to get away, there’s nothing like travel! Be fully immersed in the experience so you don’t forget any of it – but also be aware so you’re not targeted by a thief or scammer while you’re away, souring the memories you’d rather make.
Cash or card? Know what to use and when.
The advantage of cash is in protecting your personal information; however, it’s not replaceable if it is stolen while you travel. Make withdrawals at ATMs from banks you know whenever possible, and keep your PIN out of sight. If anything looks different about where you swipe your card, find another machine; it could be a “skimmer” designed to capture your information. Once you have your cash, secure it somewhere like a front or hidden pocket with a zipper, or a bag you can wear across your body. Never keep cash, identification, or valuables in your back pocket.
Using a credit card for expensive purchases will give you the protection of your cardholder’s agreement, but make sure the vendor has a secure processing system and carefully check your statements after you return home. Don’t forget to notify your bank that you’ll be traveling; if they see purchases being made that don’t fit your normal pattern, they may freeze the account to protect you! Make and keep copies of the fronts and backs of all of your credit cards, passports and IDs.
Smartphones nowadays double as extremely effective cameras, but taking in your surroundings through a screen makes you a target for thieves. It’s best if you know your route in advance, but if you’re using the phone for navigation, plug in an earbud so you can secure the phone and free your hands. Keep your head up and your eyes alert, and watch for crowds, disturbances, or people “accidentally” bumping into you – these distractions are are common methods for pickpockets to steal items without being detected.
Know who to call.
If you’re traveling out of the country where emergency services may not be 911, find out what the local emergency numbers are and save them to your phone (preferably on speed dial). Also have contact information for the nearest U.S. embassies or consulates and save those addresses and phone numbers as well. It’s also recommended to register your trip with the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, so that they can notify you in the event of an emergency either where you are or back home (such as a natural disaster or some form of civil unrest that could put you in harm’s way).
Even domestically, it’s possible to get lost in an unfamiliar place; take advantage of services like Uber or bSafe (both with free smartphone apps) to get yourself around safely!
Leave the light on.
In this age of real time, 24-7 connectivity with friends and family, posting photos or checking in on social media sites has the unfortunate side effect of advertising your absence from home. Real-time updates can be tempting, but your safest bet is to wait until you return home before sharing your adventures.
Additional precautions you can take include:
Stop your mail and newspaper delivery, or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up daily.
Leave a few lights on or put them on timers so it looks like someone’s home.
Keep your important documents in a secure place – a (fireproof) home safe or safe deposit box is great!
Most importantly – talk to us before you go so we can make sure you’re covered if something DOES happen!
We have policies available to cover identity theft (if yours doesn’t already include it), valuables that may get damaged or lost, and more – contact us for an appointment today!