Thanksgiving and Chanukah are upon us and more holidays are right around the corner. During this time of year, many people are gearing up to travel to reunite with friends and family. Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be risky.
“When people travel, they are in an unfamiliar environment, get distracted, and are often in a rush,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “Crooks know this and target travelers. Also, travelers tend to travel with expensive gadgets such as laptops, extra money, gifts and other valuables, making them easy and tempting targets.”
We don’t want anyone to experience losing their belongings while traveling. Here are some tips to help keep you safe -- from the airport to the hotel and anywhere in between.
Cautious at the Airport
The airport is full of commotion, but you need to be especially wary when arriving at the security checkpoints. While standing in line, make sure to keep your belongings with you for as long as possible.
“When you’re going through security, I like to hold off letting my purse through until I’m ready to go through myself,” said Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. “I don’t want it waiting on the other end, particularly if I get held up for a pat-down and search.”
When arriving at your destination, try to be one of the first ones to make it to the baggage claim.
“There’s always a chance somebody will get to the carousel before you and take your bag either by mistake or on purpose,” said Hobica. “Make sure you get to the baggage claim as soon as possible.”
Don’t rely on the airport to match tags with baggage, there’s no guarantee that someone will be doing this.
Keeping Valuables Safe In-Flight
Carry-on bags are often filled with your most valuable items, so it’s important to take extra care with these.
The first step in doing so is to lock your bags. Kevin Coffey, police detective and founder of Corporate Travel Safety, commented that this is an obvious tip, but many people don’t do it. He adds that if you don’t lock your bag, you should place the bag upside down and with the zipper facing the wall.
If you put your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, place it in the aisle across from you. You’ll have better eye contact.
“When you put your bag directly overhead, which is what most people do, you can’t see it,” stated Coffey. He added that if someone were to access the compartment above you, you’d have no idea if they tampered with your belongings.
Don’t forget about the smaller items you carry, such as your phone, wallet, and credit cards.
Coffey suggested that if you plan on leaving your seat and you don’t want to take your belongings with you, bury them deep inside your carry-on bag. Reserve just one credit card or a few bills for emergencies or in-flight food. He also advised that you don’t leave anything of value in coat pockets.
Don’t Leave Your Belongings in the Hotel
Making it to the hotel with all your belongings is a great feeling! However, the job of keeping your things secure is far from over. Hotels can be just as risky as airports when it comes to the safety of your possessions.
“Don’t leave your ‘Clean My Room’ sign out when you leave for the day,” suggested Liz Dahl, Founder of BoomerTravelPatrol.com. “This is a sure sign to let others with bad intentions know that the room is empty and with Christmas gifts and other valuables likely to be in there, you could return to a room that has truly been ‘cleaned.’”
Dahl recommends that you opt to use the safes that many hotels provide, whether it is in the room or behind the front desk for any items of value. It’s the only way to ensure that they are secure.
Security While Out and About
Sightseeing while you’re traveling is a great way to unwind and enjoy your time away from home, but thieves are on the watch for tourists.
Alina Reyzelman, founder of Elite Club Limited and expert on international living and traveling, said the most important rule is to stay alert and limit engagement and interaction with strangers.
“Stay alert while you are traveling and don’t engage in conversation with strangers who are offering you food or drink, asking you strange questions or distracting you,” said Reyzelman. “Only carry travel checks and one or two credit cards. Leave important documents wherever you’re staying.”
Finally, if you are confronted by a criminal, Reyzelman advised: “Give up your valuables, don’t fight back.”
Safe and Happy Holidays
With so many security checks at the airport, it can be easy to take the safety of our belongings for granted. However, the reality is that we carry more expensive items with us than ever before and thieves are always on the lookout for opportunities to snatch them. The traveling season can be chaotic, but practice these tips so you can ensure that all your belongings arrive at your destination with you.
Do you have any other tips for keeping your belongings safe while you’re on the road? Please share them in the comments.
Safe travels to everyone and have a wonderful holiday season!