Vacation Safety and Security Tips

After much planning, preparing and organizing, you're finally ready for your long-awaited vacation! To ensure the best vacation memories, follow these tips to protect yourself before you leave home and while traveling.

Before You Leave

Take some steps to make your home look lived in. Put timers on lights, stop mail and newspaper delivery, and enlist a neighbor to keep an eye on your house. Leave your itinerary with a neighbor, family member or both, including contact information in case of emergency. Make arrangements for your lawn to be mowed and any other routine maintenance to be taken care of. Don't leave an extra key hidden outside the house—burglars are skilled at finding hiding spaces. And of course, don't forget to lock doors and windows before you leave.

Go through your wallet before leaving home. Take only those cards you will need for traveling. Pack valuables like jewelry and electronics in your carry-on bag so it will always be with you. Carry a small flashlight with fresh batteries in case of emergency.

While You’re Traveling

Be alert. Just like at home, be aware of your surroundings. Don't flash your cash. Use debit and credit cards instead of cash when possible.

While scenic shots of sunsets and “I’m going on vacation!” status updates are sure to win you a lot of likes on social media, wait until after you return to post pictures and updates from your travels. It is increasingly common for burglars to use social media to select the location of their next break in.

Car Security

Minimize the fact you are not from the area. Your license plate may give you away as a visitor, but there are steps you can take to stay safe. Be aware of where you park, and consider what the environment will be like at the time when you plan to return to the car. The spot you park in at noon may look very different at midnight. Check the front and back seats when getting in the car. Always lock the door as soon as getting in. When leaving the car, be sure to place all maps, guidebooks and other evidence of being a tourist out of site. Never leave valuables in plain sight in the car.

Hotels

When checking in, ask the front desk associate not to announce your room number; rather it should be written to prevent anyone from overhearing it. Grab two business cards with the hotel name and address; keep one beside the bed so you know where you are if you have to report an emergency, and keep another with you so you can find your way back to the hotel when you go out. Before settling into your room, learn where the emergency exits are. Count the number of doors to the exit and write it on the card you leave beside the bed. If there is an emergency during the night, grab the card and your room key. If you're crawling down a smoky hall you'll be able to count the doors to the escape.

Health

Get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong. If you have allergies to food, animals or plants, be aware of their presence and have a plan for responding to a reaction. Don't forget about sun safety. Wear sunscreen, protective clothing and sunglasses. Pack an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses in case one gets lost or broken.

Know what your health care policy covers and how it works when you are away from home. Bring phone numbers for your insurance company and any doctors you may need to call while traveling. Be sure to bring the regular medications you take at home. Carry with you a list of these medications, the dosage and frequency, and a written description of any medical conditions you have to help medical personnel in an emergency situation. And be sure to bring some basics — acetaminophen or ibuprofen, an antihistamine and maybe some cold medicine. And don't forget the band aids and antibiotic cream.

Relax and have fun!

With just a little advance planning and some common sense while traveling, your dream vacation will become the reality you worked so hard to plan.