The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. In addition to honoring those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country, millions of folks will travel across the country by car, plane, and train in search of fun and good times.
Unfortunately, thieves and thugs will use our hard-earned vacations as an opportunity for their nasty crimes. Here are suggestions from security and law enforcement professionals to help make your vacation and travel more secure:
1. Before you leave for vacation, tell a trusted neighbor of your travel plans, and leave a telephone number where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
2. Ask the neighbor pick up your daily mail and newspaper deliveries, as well as any advertising fliers and circulars that land on your doorstep.
Quick Security Tip: If possible, perhaps the neighbor also can park a vehicle in your driveway.
3. In general, reveal your vacation plans only to those who really need to know and you trust. Never leave your travel details on your answering machine’s message.
Quick Security Tip: Always keep your garage door closed and locked. This is one of the most common ways burglars enter homes.
4. Use automatic timers to turn your lights and radio on and off at varying times while you are gone. (Turn your radio to a talk show rather than a music station.)
5. Carry traveler’s checks or credit cards — not large amounts of cash. Also, leave all your jewelry, airline tickets, and other valuables in a secure room safe or the hotel’s safety deposit box. Be sure to have a written record of your traveler’s checks and credit card numbers — and keep them in a safe place — in case they are lost or stolen.
6. When staying at a hotel or motel, if possible, never leave your luggage unattended.
Quick Security Tip: It is a common tactic of thieves to use a “distraction” to steal your valuables while you are at the airport or while you are checking in.
7. When you get to your hotel room, determine the best routes to the stairs and fire escapes in case of an emergency.
8. Never open your door automatically. Most hotel room doors have peepholes; use them to see who's there. If you have any doubt about the person's identity, contact the front desk for verification. Also, be sure to report to the front desk, hotel security, and police any suspicious people or activities you may observe.
9. When you leave your room, even briefly, always lock the door. And, as you did with your house before you left for your vacation travel, leave a light and radio/TV on before you leave your hotel room for the evening.
Quick Security Tip: Make sure you know the proper emergency number to call for a police, fire, or medical emergency (in most areas within the United States, the number is 9-1-1, but there still may be a few locations where they do not use that, so be sure to check.)
10. While enjoying you vacation travel, you can never be too aware, too prepared, or too careful.
My Final Thoughts: Never put your “common sense” on vacation. Sound and prudent judgment is often your best tool in making your vacation and travel as enjoyable and secure as possible. So forget about the high gas prices for a few days, and have a fun — and safe — summer vacation.
© 2009 by Bruce Mandelblit
Bruce (Mandelblit.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yaho-o.com.