Personal Security Tips for Safer Travel

In Category: Security Tips

June heralds the arrival of summer, along with an end to the school year and the start of vacation season for people across the United States. We love to travel, and as of 2015, 45% of Americans will take a summer vacation of some kind, contributing our small part to 657 million domestic trips between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

We’re not just seeing our own shores and attractions, either. If summer 2015 follows the trends set in 2014, nearly ten million of us will make international trips between June and September. Clearly, folks in the U.S. like to get a move on when the weather is fine.

Making the most of your trip starts with smart planning for personal security. Have a look at our travel safety and security tips, and enjoy peace of mind along with the sights.

What to Know Before You Go

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of travel, but before you hop that plane or pack the family into the minivan, make sure you’ve armed yourself with the knowledge you need to enjoy a safe and successful journey.

Map out Your Journey in Advance

Get traffic and travel alerts for your route, and plan safe alternative routes you can use in case of emergencies. If you’re taking a bus, plane, or train, make sure you know your itinerary and arrival/departure information in advance.

Research the Area You’re Visiting

Be aware of any travel alerts and security warnings. Learn about local customs, including dress and mannerisms, to avoid seeming too “touristy” and presenting a tempting target. Dress up, or down, as the occasion requires.

Make a Checklist

If you’re traveling internationally, be sure to review and follow the U.S. State Department’s Traveler’s Checklist. In addition to providing invaluable information about passport requirements, it’s full of tips you can use to stay healthy, safe, and secure outside U.S. borders.

Make Friends with Your Embassy

Know how to find the American embassy or consulate where you’re vacationing. In the event of an emergency in a foreign land, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate is an essential partner in getting help and services you may need. Consider taking advantage of the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enhance your security and streamline your experience if you need help while abroad.

Taking an hour or two to prepare your itinerary and learn about the areas you’ll be visiting can help reduce the stress of travel and let you focus on your family and fun instead of fretting.

Personal Travel Security

Whether you’re seeing the sights in your own state, traveling nationwide, or exploring distant horizons, making sure you, your family, and your possessions are secure for the duration can help keep your trip pleasant rather than perilous.

Pack Light

The fewer valuables and other possessions you have with you, the less chance you’ll lose something you can’t do without. Avoid ostentatious jewelry or flashing large amounts of cash.

Keep Your Funding Flexible

Bring a mix of one or two credit cards, cash or local currency, and traveler’s cheques. If you need cash handy, consider keeping a small amount in a clip in your front (not back) pocket, and all your other currency in a secure traveler’s wallet. That way, even if you lose a few bucks to a pickpocket, you’re not left penniless and stranded far from home.

Play Things Close to the Vest

Keep all currency, passports, and other important documents secured on your person at all times. Don’t leave crucial documents, cash, or ID in your pockets or an open purse. A travel wallet carried around your body and under your clothes can make things difficult for pickpockets. If you’re traveling with children, keep their documentation with you in a secure belt, pouch, or wallet.

Lock ‘Em Up

Luggage locks can turn away opportunistic thieves and help keep your possessions secure. If you’re traveling by air, secure your luggage with TSA-approved locks to allow for easy security access.

Keep Your Meds Handy

Prepare a traveler’s health kit. Make sure you have all required medications for the duration of your trip, plus first-aid essentials in the event of an emergency.

Stay Alert

Stay awake on trains and buses, and in taxis. Be aware of your surroundings, and make sure your children, valuables, and documentation are always within reach and secure. In crowds, be aware of any jostling, no matter how innocuous it may seem. Pickpockets take advantage of congested, touristy areas to ply their trade without being detected.

Summer’s the perfect time for enjoying a relaxing trip to see friends and family, hitting the beach, or exploring new and exciting cultures. With a little advanced planning, research, and awareness of your surroundings, you can help ensure this summer’s vacation is a secure and enjoyable one you’ll be happy to remember.