Monday, September 20, 2010

Tips for Travel Safety

Airline Safety Tips: Before you head out for your travel adventure, even if it's just an overnight trip, confirm your flight at least 48-hours in advance. You can do this online or simply by calling the airline. Be sure that your luggage, from carry-on bags to checked luggage has your identity tag placed on your bag with your name, address and phone number on the tag. Instead of checking-in your valuables and medications, put them in your carry-on bag. Travel as lightly as possible. Make sure you arrive at the airport at least 2-hours before your flight and immediately check-in. Once you get to the airport security checkpoints, your boarding pass, plane ticket, license and, or passport should be easily accessible. Remember to remove all heavy metal, belts, and jewelry, as well as straggler coins in your pocket. You'll be asked to take your shoes off; wearing slip-on shoes will make this process much quicker. All laptops and electronic devices will go through the X-ray machine in individual bins, along with your carry-on bags and jacket (if you're wearing one). Never leave luggage unattended for any reason whatsoever and do not ask a stranger to watch your bags for you, you must always keep your luggage with you at all times. Before boarding, even if you're an hour early, stay close to your departure gate for any announcements. Board when your name or section is called. As soon as you find your seat, place your bags in the overhead compartment, sit down and relax. If you have any questions or concerns about anything, ask the flight attendants, they are there to help.

Child Safety: Traveling with children can seem like a daunting and overwhelming experience. However, if you plan ahead and follow FAA guidelines, as well as a few simple tips, it can be quite easy. If you're kids are young, make sure you have lots of easy-to-pack games in your carry-on for them to play with. Toys aren’t always the best choice, especially if they are toys that have a lot of loose pieces. Toys with sharp edges could be confiscated during check-in, at the safety checkpoint. Include some of their favorite snacks and any medications required. FAA requirements are that children under 40 pounds must have some kind of child safety seat. Keep your child calm and in control throughout the duration of your flight, which means keeping them occupied. Instead of seating your child in the aisle, seat them in the middle-seat or by the window. Keep your child belted in their seat at all times.

Driving and protecting yourself and your car against carjacking: Be smart. Be safe. Avoid a carjacking and being robbed. When driving, be sure to keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. If you're parking, try to park in a well lit parking spot, close to the entrance of where you're going. Carjackers hang-out around stop signs, stop lights, intersections, shopping malls, self-serve gas stations, ATMs and other locales. To avoid being carjacked, drive purposefully and be aware of your surroundings. Before heading to your rental car, be sure to have your keys in hand and look around before getting in.

Hotel Safety Tips: Whether you choose a luxury hotel or a budget hotel, staying at a hotel can be a great experience. To be safe, instead of taking any risks or making mistakes, the more you know, the safer you'll be. Enter the hotel with your luggage in hand. If a valet has it on a cart for you, keep an eye on your cart while you check-in. Don’t leave your credit card on the counter or with the clerk who took your registration. Be sure you have everything, your room key, and directions to your room, as well as your credit card. Ask for a business card and directions to the hotel. Keep both with you on your person at all times. Once in your room, dead bolt the door. If you're on the ground floor, make sure your windows are locked. If there's a hotel safe, place your valuables in there for maximum security. Keep your hotel key (which is likely a key-card) in your wallet, so you don't forget it.

Identity Theft: Identity theft is a serious issue. Be aware of your spending habits. Keep receipts for credit card transactions, ATM withdraws and deposits to ensure your protection. If you've lost your credit cards and any other identifying information, or if it's stolen and you believe you are the victim of identity theft, immediately call your credit card companies. Verify all transactions and let them know that your card has been lost or stolen. Call the fraud units of all three major credit card reporting companies. Notify your bank to cancel your accounts. Contact the authorities and write down who you spoke with. If you've filed a report, be sure to get a copy of your report. Finally, contact the social security office and let them know that your social security card has been stolen.

Travel Insurance & Packing: Consider travel insurance for your luggage and personal belongings. Wear a money belt on your person. Pack your luggage in an organized fashion, so everything is easy to access. Keep a list of everything you packed and traveled with, including electronics and toiletries.

Taxi Scams: Whenever you're traveling, it's very important to be aware of your surroundings. Wear a money belt, so you can keep your credit cards, license and, or passport, cash and traveler's checks on you underneath your pants or shirt. By doing this, you avoid pick-pocketers walking through busy streets, while sightseeing, on trains and at the airport. If you're approached by a stranger frantically declaring that something has been stolen, assertively step back and tell them to contact the authorities. Follow the old saying, "Don't talk to strangers." Sometimes these are con-artists prowling for tourists. To avoid being a victim, be prepared. Don’t take out your wallet and look around for the nearest security officer or police officer, or store that you can rush into if required.

Travel Scams: Before jumping into "any" taxi, before departing to your destination, call the hotel you're staying at and find out the names of their local taxi companies. Be sure to carry those names with you. Only take a taxi from one of the companies on your list. Do not take a "car" or a taxi from a company the hotel hasn't mentioned. When at the airport, you can also ask the skycap the names of the taxi companies available.

Travel and Health Information: Americans traveling abroad, before leaving for your trip, find out if you need any vaccinations and what the local health concerns are. Check with the website (World Health Organization). If you're traveling while pregnant, be sure to tell your OB/GYN, to find out if there are any extra precautions or medications you need to take. If you're traveling with children, be sure to tell your pediatrician where you are going to and to ensure your child has had all of his/her immunization shots.

Safety Tips for Women Travelers: Women traveling alone need to be extra cautious when choosing hotels, taking taxis and sightseeing. Choose a hotel in a bustling, well lit part of town. Do your research to find out if that hotel is safe. The Internet offers a wealth of resources and information, also contact the hotel staff anonymously and find out what safety measures they offer for women traveling alone. Before heading out for a day of sightseeing, plan your day. Review a map, something that folds easily and that you can carry on your person. Write down directions to each attraction you want to visit and plan accordingly. Wear a money belt underneath your clothing. Bring as little cash as possible and use traveler's checks. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your intuition.

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