few precautions can mean the difference between a dream
vacation and a disaster.
not leave your common sense at home," urges AAA National.
"You are more vulnerable when in unfamiliar surroundings."
While there is no way to guarantee insulation from crime,
there are ways to minimize the risk. Experts advise
travelers to take a proactive approach to securing their
property and ensuring their safety.
Travelers should also take steps to keep their homes
safe while away. The following guidelines can help in
securing your home-and yourself-while traveling:
Consult with a reputable travel agent. Many scam artists
offer trips that sound too good to be true, but have
substantial hidden costs or restrictions. Avoid companies
which pressure you for an immediate decision or won't
supply information in writing.
Consider purchasing trip insurance to safeguard your
vacation against costly "surprises" such as injuries,
cancellation, and lost baggage.
File a "travel plan." Let someone know where you are
going, the route you plan to take and when you plan
to arrive. If you deviate from that plan, let someone
Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to watch your house
while you are away. Give them the phone number where
you are staying and other pertinent information. Have
them pick up your mail, newspapers, etc. Do NOT stop
Hire someone to clear the driveway and sidewalks of
snow in the winter, and mow the lawn in the summer.
Have a neighbor park his/her car in your driveway,
to give the house a "lived-in" appearance.
Make sure the doors and windows are secured before
leaving your home.
Set household lights (inside and out) on variable
Leave spare keys with a neighbor or relative rather
than hidden outside the house. A burglar knows where
Check your travel documents and reconfirm your flight
to make sure it is on schedule.
Make photocopies of your passport and compile lists
of your credit card numbers. This will help speed
replacement of lost or stolen items.
Some materials that may be safe in automobiles can
be dangerous in airplanes. Airlines forbid packing
matches or lighters in luggage, or flammable liquids
such as lighter refills, adhesives, and solvents.
Never leave luggage unattended. Use your business
address, if possible, on luggage tags.
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch who is watching
Flashing wads of cash may make a tourist an easy theft
target. Consider a variety of payment methods to ensure
maximum convenience and security. Traveler's checks
are a good option because, if lost or stolen, they
can be replaced. Keep serial numbers separate from
Use credit cards to cover unexpected or very large
expenses incurred while traveling. Credit charges
are the easiest to challenge if services or merchandise
purchased are unsatisfactory or incorrectly charged.
Split up cash among family members so funds are still
available should one person experience a loss. Carry
enough to cover tips, taxi fares, telephones and other
miscellaneous small expenses.
Carry money separately from credit cards or use a
"fanny pack." Carry your purse close to your body
and your wallet in an inside coat or front trouser
Consider bringing an automatic teller machine (ATM)
card on vacation. Withdraw only small amounts of cash
as needed. When possible, do all ATM banking during
daylight and business hours. After hours, only frequent
ATM machines located in grocery stores, malls or other
If your car is bumped from behind or if someone says
there is something wrong with your car, don't stop.
Go to a service station or a well-lit area and call
Don't pull over for flashing headlights. Police vehicles
have red or blue lights.
Travel in groups when possible. Walk only in well-lit
areas and fill the gas tank before dark.
Ask hotel front desk personnel which areas of town
to avoid and what, if any special precautions should
be taken when driving a rental car.
Never leave video cameras, car phones or other expensive
equipment visible in your car. Lock them in the trunk.
Make sure the hotel desk clerk does not announce your
room number; if so, quietly request a new room assignment.
Preparation for a safe escape in case of fire in a
hotel/motel begins at check-in. As you walk down the
hallway, note the location of fire extinguishers and
fire alarms. Count the number of doors between your
room and the nearest exit, as you may be forced to
crawl on the floor in darkness and smoke to your exit.
Keep your room key close to your bed, where you can
easily find it.
Use room safes or safety deposit boxes provided by
the hotel. Store all valuables out of sight, even
when you are in the room.
Use deadbolt and other locks provided by the hotel.
Properties which appear in AAA TourBooks must comply
with certain room security requirements, including
deadbolt locks on all guest room entry and connecting
Never open the door to
Reproduced with permission
from AAA Wisconsin