With Memorial Day having just kicked off the summer travel season, now is an excellent time to brush up on ways to stave off potential hazards that could interfere with your plans to unwind and have an amazing vacation experience. Whether you’re planning a road trip to a lakeside getaway in the mountains or will be jetting off for a tour of the Norwegian fjords, travel experts recommend that you follow these guidelines to help ensure your peace of mind:
Don’t be too forthcoming about your upcoming travel: As our members who are law enforcement professionals might tell you, it’s best to limit the number of people who know about your plans to leave town to prevent your home from being an easy mark for burglars or vandals. At the same time, it’s essential to provide a trusted friend or family with at least your basic itinerary along with emergency contact information so that they can help locate you if an emergency were to happen. Also enlist their help or ask a neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers while you’re away.
Be extra cautious on the road: The months of June through August have been reported as the most dangerous time of year for driving—surpassing even winter according to the Department of Transportation. Increased traffic and road work are two major reasons for this. The sunny weather also brings out troves of people on motorcycles and bicycles, as well as teens enjoying their freedom and summer fun. Keep these variables in mind as you head out on a road trip this season. Be sure to leave at least four seconds of following distance between you and a motorcyclist, and stay alert for road signs and construction workers. When you’re traveling long distances, pack an emergency kit with items including first-aid supplies, a flashlight with new batteries, a tire gauge, bottled water, flare and lighter, non-perishable food, a backup battery for your phone, and blankets.
Familiarize yourself with hotel safety: As you get settled into your accommodations, take the time to learn escape routes and find the fire alarm and fire extinguishers. If you’ve never been to the area you’re visiting, it’s also wise to ask hotel staff about which areas of town which should be avoided if possible. And think twice before answering every knock on your door, since criminals may impersonate hotel employees as a ploy to enter your room. If someone is at your door claiming to be maintenance or housekeeping, call to confirm this with the front desk before letting them inside.
Keep your cash and credit cards separated: Regardless of whether you’re visiting a destination just a few hours by car from home or your travels take you to a foreign country, keep in mind that heavy tourist areas are prime hunting grounds for pickpockets. Take precautions by keeping some cash where it is easily accessible, and the rest of it in a zippered pocket, hotel safe, or other hidden place. Credit cards should also be kept in a different part of your purse or bag than your cash. Another option is to keep some cash or a credit card in a pouch that you carry around your neck. At all costs, don’t make it obvious to strangers that you’re carrying around a large amount of cash while you’re out.
Watch out for insects: With the warmer weather comes an increased risk of contracting an illness by insects that spread infections such as Lyme disease or can infect you with viruses such as West Nile and Zika. Learn whether the area you’re visiting is a hotspot for these critters, and be sure to apply repellant while you’re outdoors if this is the case.
Additional tips for international travel:
- Check with the State Department’s website at http://bit.ly/StateDeparmentTravelDetails to find travel updates, warnings and other important facts on the country you’ll be visiting. It’s also a good idea to register your travel plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan (STEP), a free service from the State Department which can help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency.
- Photocopy your passport or scan a copy of it to your email so that you’ll have its pertinent details on hand to make it easier to replace if it is lost or stolen while on vacation.
- Exercise caution in using rental vehicles and buses. Research the safety records of ground transportation before you book any reservations, especially as motor vehicle crashes are a major cause of death for U.S. citizens abroad.
- Consider purchasing travel medical insurance since your health insurance is not likely to cover you in a foreign country.
- Learn the location of the nearest hospital, police station and the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are staying.
Are you excited about an upcoming summer trip and plan to capture your memories on camera? SF Police Credit Union wants to help you share your experience—and cash in on your fun—with our Summertime Adventures Photo Contest. Now through August 31, 2016, you could win up to $300 by taking us with you on your trip! With SFPCU’s Mobile Banking, we’re always by your side, which is why our theme for this year is Summertime Adventures with SFPCU by My Side. Find details on how to enter at https://www.sfpcu.org/photocontest.