To many, Memorial Day is the official kick off to summer. The long weekend is usually the first weekend that friends and families hit their favorite weekend beach spot. The weather is usually right on point to summon cut-off shorts, tank tops, and a cold one. While I know everyone is eager to hit the road, there are some easy preventive measures you can take prior to your trip to make sure that your summer vacations are filled with good memories.
Prep The House
- Check to ensure that all windows and doors have been locked and secured.
- Add motion sensors to any outdoor flood lights on your property and timer-sensored lights inside. Having indoor lights set on a timer helps to create the illusion that someone is home. These lights should be set to your normal times that you come home and go to bed. Having lights on or off for 24 hours day is a sign that the house is empty.
- Turning off your water is a good idea when you plan on being away. The last thing you want is to come home to find something unexpectedly leaked or overflowed.
- Don't let your mail or newspapers pile up. You can ask your post office to hold your mail and you can do the same with your newspaper. Alternatively, you can ask a neighbor to pick up your newspaper/mail for you. Having your newspapers pile up on your doorstep is a dead giveaway that the house is unoccupied.
On The Road
- Have your car serviced or checked out before you hit the road. Ensure that your oil has been changed, your tires and your spare are in good condition, your A/C is working, lights and windshield wipers work, and you have a full tank of gas.
- Bring a roadside emergency kit and first-aid kit. You can easily buy them ready to go and all you need to do is put it in your car.
- Bring printable maps. Depending on where you are going you may not have the greatest cell reception or your GPS may not work. Keep a road atlas handy and also print out your driving directions. You can have your passenger relay the directions as you drive so you can save your cell phone battery for any potential emergency need.
- Take the time for any needed rest breaks to help reduce fatigue and potential accidents. Get out of the car, stretch and move around for five minutes.
- Make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelts and any car seats, pet seats/carriers, and luggage is properly secured.
- If you're traveling with kids and/or pets, make sure they have what they need in reach before you leave so you can focus on the driving.
- For some reason if you need to pull over, look for a brightly lit and public place to do so.
- When leaving your car, ensure that all of your valuables or any of your luggage/bags are in the trunk and out of site. You don't want to give a potential thief any reason to break into your car.
- Ensure you have the phone numbers to whatever road-side assistance programs you belong too, your car insurance company, and know ahead of time what their procedures are.
At The Airport
- If you can't fit your carry on luggage under the seat in front of you, then store it in the overhead bin across the aisle from your seat. This way you'll able to keep an eye on it.
- Have your travel documents readily accessible.
- Keep an eye on your luggage. Airports are busy and can be a tad hectic, criminals will work in teams to distract you while making off with your luggage.
- When going through the security line, your laptop should be the last item to be sent through the x-ray. The end of the x-ray belt tends to be a cluster of people trying to get their belongings and having your laptop go through last will hopefully mean it will clear the same time you do.
- Research your destination airport ahead of time to know where reliable taxi stands or public transportation is. Some airports (especially destination islands) are so busy with tourists that many unlicensed locals try to offer rides or provide deals for transportation. While they might not mean any harm, it's better to be safe than sorry.
At The Hotel
- Take a moment to review the emergency exit map on the back of the hotel door and scout out the exits ahead of time. This takes all of five minutes and you'll be glad you did should an emergency arise in the middle of the night.
- Come up with a meeting place for your family outside of the hotel should an emergency occur and you get separated.
- Add phone numbers to the local hospitals and local emergency rescue to all of your family members phones. If you're traveling outside of the country, 911 will not direct you to emergency services.
- If you are going off the beaten path during some of your site seeing, ask the hotel concierge if there are any areas that you should avoid.
- Write down the hotel name and address or ask for a hotel business card. Often times there are multiple chains of the same hotel and if you're in a foreign country it's easiest to show a cab driver the address.
- Lock your valuables in the in-room safe when you leave the room.
- Try to avoid over sharing your trip on social media. Don't go into detail of your travel plans on any of your social media accounts. You can read more of my tips on social media sharing here.
- Don't put your home address on your luggage tags. Instead write down your phone number and email address.
- Make a digital & hard copy of your passport and ID in case they get lost/stolen. You can email the digital copy to yourself and bring the hard copy with you. The hard copy should be stored separately from the original. You can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program which is a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program works with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which can assist during an emergency such as a lost or stolen passport.
- Trim the fat from your wallet. Take a few minutes before your trip and empty your wallet of all the unnecessary credit cards, free drink cards, receipts, and club cards. Only bring what you need with you and take a moment to notify your credit card company ahead of time if you plan on traveling abroad.
- Keep your cash separated. Have your spending cash easily accessible and the rest hidden so you are not showing off large amounts when paying. If you must bring large amounts of cash, then you can store the extra on your person with a concealed bag like this.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Don't let your guard down just because you might be in a "nicer" area. You can read more situational awareness tips here.
- Leave an itinerary and phone numbers for where you are staying with a family member or friend.
- After all, it is summertime, so don't forget the SPF and the sunglasses.
We all need some downtime and summer vacations should be a relaxing break from the daily grind. However, without some precautions your dream trip could turn into a nightmare. Take a few minutes to ensure that you and your family are prepared and safe this summer season.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on my opinions and for informational use only. I am not an expert in this field and any items/services/products/advice mentioned in these posts should be used at your own discretion and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. You can read more about my privacy & disclosure policies here.