Sometimes, travel writers take press trips. Also called familiarity trips, these involve a few professional travel journalists being ushered around a particular vacation destination by PR folks in the local community’s travel and tourism business. I, SoCalGal, have been in the midst of a southern California beach town press trip, and just learned a valuable lesson regarding keeping one’s guard up. I carelessly left my PDA in a hotel lobby, and someone walked off with it. Travel tip: Don’t leave your personal digital assistant laying around in hotels. Yes, I know, this is a lesson that should have been learned many years ago, but hey, I’ve been burned, so lesson learned!
Top 10 Vacation Loss and Theft Prevention Tips
1. Keep an eye on your stuff. It sounds simple, but the sights and stresses of travel can distract even the most inveterate travelers. For example, I had taken some things out of my purse when I was looking for my sunblock, which it turns out I had left in my room. Apparently, I left my Blackberry on the table in the lobby. When I got back downstairs, it was gone. Someone STOLE my new Blackberry – and all my contact info, photos, and favorite ringtones that were on it.
2. If someone does steal your PDA, or if it’s just plain lost, cancel your service with your service provider. While you may be able to get the police to trace any outgoing calls on it, you’ll be held responsible for any charges anyway. Even if you have unlimited calls, the thief could be downloading songs and videos and whatnot, incurring huge fees.
3. Leave your most valuable jewelry and prized possessions at home. If you must take objects of considerable worth or sentimental value, pack them in your carry-on bag instead of the luggage to be stowed. Luggage gets lost or rifled through more often than you’d think.
4. Put a TSA-approved lock on your checked luggage. These ensure that the TSA won’t have to cut open your lock if someone decides your suitcase needs a closer look. In fact, carry-on is safest, and you don’t have to wait at the baggage carousel after arriving at your vacation destination. When feasible, try to stick with carry-on bags.
5. Prescription medications should be clearly labeled, and in their original containers. The security guy at the airport is still going to need to inspect it, of course, but this makes his or her job easier, which makes your time spent on the security line also easier.
6. Most hotels these days have a safe in the closet. This is where to store your passport, credit cards, cash, and any jewelry you decided to bring on your vacation. It’s the most secure place in the room.
7. Don’t travel to part of any country that is considered dangerous. While “considered dangerous” is open for interpretation, the US State Department issues travel alerts for particularly unsafe parts of the world. It’s a big world with plenty of terrific vacation spots; why ruin a romantic getaway or family vacation in a dangerous travel destination if you don’t have to?
8. Try to scatter your passport, credit cards, cash and I.D. throughout different pockets while out and about, rather than putting them all in your wallet or purse. Use inside pockets if you have them.
9. Be aware of who’s around you. Pickpockets and thieves often have plans, such as working in teams to nudge or distract you. Most people are essentially good, I think, but it only takes a couple of people – sometimes little kids – to lift your wallet, steal your purse, or otherwise ruin a vacation experience.
10. Your personal property or home insurance may cover theft or loss. Check your policy before you go, but it goes without saying that, even if your covered, still keep an eye on your stuff. And me? I wasn’t covered for the loss of my Blackberry. This was my stupid mistake! Remember, don’t leave personal items unattended outside your room, even in 4- and 5-star hotels.
Vacations, whether they’re family trips, weekend getaways, or that luxury Paris, France vacation you’ve been saving up for, are meant to be enjoyed. Don’t lose your stuff! Please, employ these Top 10 safe travel tips, but don’t get so tense about potential crime that you can’t a great time. You can be smart and still relax for a fun, safe vacation.