Stay safe from crime on vacation

family on vacation Summertime is here, and many Maine families will be travelling. Vacation time is a time to relax, unwind, and shake off our hard winter.

However, with travel, comes certain increased risks of crime. I’ve previously written about keeping your home safe while you’re away. Today, I’ve compiled a few helpful tips to try to keep vacation time fun without any nasty surprises.

Securing yourself

You are more important than any possession. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe from crime.

Be aware of your surroundings

This is probably the most important thing I could ever teach anyone. Awareness mitigates a lot of problems before they start. And it begins before you leave.

Find out about where you are travelling to, and if there are places, activities, or scams prevalent there that you should avoid. The Internet is a great resource for this kind of travel info.

Obviously a trip to Disney World, and a trip to Tijuana will require different crime prevention strategies.

If you are staying at a resort or hotel and leaving the grounds, ask staff if there are areas you should avoid. If you are staying with friends, ask them the same thing.

Out and about in a strange place, it’s easy to become visually fixated soaking in the sites. Make it a point to look around you. I have seen cases of tourists getting hit by cars while standing in the street to take a picture.

Don’t flash valuables

Leave that Rolex locked in the hotel safe. Also, don’t show cash, your passport, or travel tickets. All of these can be targets for theft.

Women are usually advised to carry purses under their arm in tourist locations. I would add that I do not like the idea of slinging a purse cross shoulder. I’ve known a woman who got hurt by a purse snatcher pulling on a slung purse and punching her repeatedly.

Men are advised to carry wallets in the front pocket. You’re chiropractor will probably tell you it’s better for your back anyway.

Do your best not to stick out

This can be a hard one. I remember walking into a shop in Amsterdam and the clerk immediately spoke English to me. I also remember going to a town in the Philippines and being surrounded by people for whom blue eyes were not something they were used to seeing.

As much as you can, blending in with the crowd can offer a degree of safety. Many criminals specifically target tourists. Standing out like a sore thumb increases risk.

Respect local laws and customs. Nobody likes the ugly tourist who thinks the rules don’t apply to them.

Use locking mechanisms on your hotel room

Keep your door locked. When you’re inside the room, use any additional locking mechanisms provided. You might consider buying and packing a cheap door-stop alarm. These are available for under $10, will prevent someone from forcing a door, and will sound a loud alarm.

Know where to go / who to call for help

If you’re travelling abroad, this is key. First, 911 may not be the emergency response number in another country, know what that is.

In some places in the world, the police may try to extort money from travelers seeking help. Know if this is the case before you go, and make other plans.

If you are travelling abroad, consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance. It can be pricey, but in an emergency they will get paramedics to fly you home to your hospital of choice. There are expensive upgrades to these insurance plans that even include military-trained rescue personnel if there is a security threat or natural disaster.

Securing your stuff

I’ve already covered some things – like not flashing valuables, but here are a few more tips to prevent you from losing your stuff.

Don’t carry all your cash / valuables

If your wallet goes missing and it has all your cash, credit cards, and ID, you might be in a pickle. Don’t carry everything in one place.

Keep extra cash and valuables locked up. A hotel safe is great for this.

Also keep your tickets and passport locked up when not in use. These are targets for theft.

Secure your luggage

It’s a good idea to lock your luggage when you can do so. Keep it in your room, or check it with the desk at your hotel – don’t leave it lying around.

Also, label your luggage on the outside and inside with your name and, preferably, a business address.

Snap a photo of your luggage before you fly. This can assist if the airline loses your bags.

John Moore

About John Moore

John Moore is a Maine native who overcame congenital physical limitations to achieve a 3rd degree black belt in jujutsu. He holds two master's degrees, and is a nationally certified crime prevention instructor. John teaches martial arts and self defense in the Portland area