Eight Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling

by Julie Cohn
Eight Tips To Stay Safe While Traveling

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{Disclosure:  There are affiliate links in this article, but my views are 100% my own. }

Traveling around the world can be one of life’s greatest joys, but when you travel, you also open yourself up to pick pockets, identity theft, and other dangers.   Knowing what to do before you go will make travel safer and more secure.  Here are Eight Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling.

Eight Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling

1.  Use Chip Credit Cards:   Anytime you open your wallet, you also open yourself up to pick pockets and identity theft.  Be smart about using money and credit cards while traveling,  especially internationally.  Use credit cards that have chip and pin or chip and sign technology.   Traditional credit cards use a magnetic strip on the back of the card, which stores all your personal information.  Anyone with a magnetic strip reader can obtain that information and use it to defraud you.  Chip cards add an extra layer of security to your credit card transactions, because a chip credit card is harder to copy or scan.   A chip and pin card uses the credit card chip to begin validate credit card transactions, then the buyer uses a pin to complete the transaction.  A chip and sign card is similar, but instead of a pin number, the buyer needs a signature to complete the transaction. Be sure to call your credit card company before your trip and advise them of the countries you will be traveling to, so you do not have your credit card frozen mid-trip.

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2. Use A Neck/Waist Wallet:  Would you wear a shirt that says  “steal from me” when you travel?   Of course not!  But when you use a back pocket wallet or a traditional strap purse, this is exactly what you are telling pick pockets.   A back pocket wallet can easily be snatched, without you even knowing it is gone, and a strap purse can be sliced and grabbed by a fast-moving passerby.  Instead, use a neck or waist wallet you can hide under your clothing.  With an under-clothing wallet, you can discreetly remove cash or credit cards while out and about, without pick pockets grabbing it, because it attaches securely around your waist.  If you  use a backpack while traveling, make certain to use one with reinforced straps and a waist clip, so clever thieves cannot cut and grab your pack.

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  1. Use RFID Jamming Technology:  We live in a world with so many great advancements in technology, but the bad guys always find a way to use that technology to steal from us.  Every piece of identification we carry has data stored on magnetic strips or RFID tags, which is used to identify us.  Thieves around the world capitalize on that technology by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanners (or skimmers)  to steal our information from credit cards, drivers licenses, library cards, grocery store reward cards, and even our passports.   Thieves can walk past a person with a scanner, up to 2,000 feet away, and obtain names, addresses, social security information, credit card pin numbers, and more!  They can even sit at that pretty side walk cafe you just sat down at and scan your ID’s while you nibble a croissant!  Scary, isn’t it?  Protect yourself from RFID scanners by purchasing RFID blocking waist wallets, passport holders, and credit card sleeves.  Sometimes even store-bought RFID blocking technology is not enough, so make yourself a wallet made of aluminum foil and duck tape to keep scanners from getting your data.  To secure a RFID-blocking wallet, take a purchased waist wallet (with RFID blocking technology), line it with two layers of aluminum foil, and secure the foil with a layer of duct tape.  It might not be pretty looking, and no method is 100% fool-proof, but use of RFID blocking wallets and a layer or two of aluminum foil and duct tape will keep your data more secure.
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    4.  Use Travel Locks:   When you travel, how do you keep your suitcase packed valuables safe?    Depending on your travel circumstances, there are several products to keep jewelry, tablets, laptops, and other valuables safe.   To keep your suitcase safe in transit, use a TSA-approved locking device.  The lock can keep your suitcase secure, but if TSA needs to get into your suitcase for any reason, they have a universal key that will open the lock without destroying it.  You can even get a lock with technology that will alert you when TSA opens your lock.

5.  Know Your Destination/Tell People Where You Are Going:   When traveling to a new destination, it is smart to learn the “lay of the land” before you arrive.  Look over maps and guidebooks to learn the safe areas to travel, places to avoid, construction areas, and road conditions.  Plot your itinerary and learn safe public transportation routes and schedules. First, you’ll know the safe areas to travel to, and second; it allows you to look more like a “local” and less like a tourist.  If you stand on the sidewalk looking over maps, you are an easy target for pick pockets and thieves.  Be sure to share your itinerary with someone from home, and plan to check in with them every few days, so they know you are safe.  Another measure of safety while traveling internationally would be to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEM) with the US State Department.  By registering, your travel will be recorded with the US embassy in the country you are traveling to, in case of natural or terrorist disaster.  You will also receive travel alerts and advisories for your destination (s), to keep you abreast of any unusual circumstances in the areas you are traveling to.

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6.  Pack A Day Pack:  Use a day pack such as this Pacsafe pack to use while out and about.  If you will be traveling by plane, train, or motor coach, you may have less chance to stop and get something to eat or drink during the day, or there may not be a restaurant or grocery along your route.  Pack a few protein bars in your day pack, as well as a collapsible water bottle you can refill at a moments notice.  If you have fresh fruit available at the hotel you are staying at, grab one or two for your day trip.  Bring Dramamine for bumpy rides, as well as any daily medications you may need.  You never know when you could encounter a delay and not be able to get to your hotel and regular suitcase.  You may not always have games on your phone available, especially with no WiFi available, so pack a deck of cards or a pen and paper for impromptu Solitaire or Hangman games.  Also make certain you have backup copies of your passport, credit cards, drivers license, etc. in your day pack, in case your wallet gets stolen.  I recommend scanning a copy of your passport into Turbo Scan, an iTunes app for scanning important documents.  Lastly, make sure your day pack has slash proof straps, and zippers that lock into place.

7.  Hotel Safety:   When checking in, make certain the registration agent does not say your room number out loud.  If they do, ask for a different room and tell them to write down the room number.  When leaving your hotel room, make certain your valuables are put into a safe or in one of the anti-theft lockdown bags I mentioned above. Leave the tv on and put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door when you leave your room, so would-be thieves will think you are in the room.  Do not give your room number out to that friendly girl or boy flirting with you at the museum; they are most likely professional thieves setting you up.

8.  Be Aware of Scam Artists:  Scam artists have become quite clever in their methods for getting information and distracting travelers so they can make off with your valuables, and make you more vulnerable.  One way they do this is to ask you to sign a petition or sign up for a “free” gift or hotel stay.  They may ask what hotel you are currently staying at, and ask you to fill out a form with your personal information.  Don’t do it, it is most likely a scam, so they can break into your hotel later, and they have your personal information from the form you willingly filled out.  Another scam is to hand you a brochure or flyer to unfold.  While you are distracted opening the brochure, they may have time to reach into an open backpack and make off with your iPad, phone, or wallet.


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1 comment

Heidi 06/04/2014 at 6:53 am

These are very important tips that I think people often overlook when they are traveling. Thanks for sharing!


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