Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, kids are on break, parties are scheduled, and travel spikes.
Take some basic precautions to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.
Know your destination – Not all locations are equally safe. Research your destination before booking your trip, especially when traveling abroad. The US State Department is an excellent resource for global travel information. Their site can show you alerts and warnings for travel advisories, which include information regarding civil unrest and criminal violence related to threats as well as weather alerts.
International travel – Carry your passport with you at all times and make a color copy to store in your luggage. Contact your cellular phone carrier to be sure your phone will work at your destination. You can also enroll in the US State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Benefits of those who enroll include:
- Receiving important information from the US Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country.
- Helping the US Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Helping family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Emergency contacts – It is a good practice to carry emergency contact and travel information on your person while you are traveling, including:
- Your passport or driver’s license
- Travel itinerary with destination addresses and phone numbers
- Transportation information
- Critical medical information
- Names and phone numbers for emergency contacts at home
Social media – Although it is tempting to post pictures and details about your trip on the many social media platforms, unfortunately this information can be exploited by those who do you harm or burgle your home while you are away. Refrain from posting details about your trip until you return home.
Digital information – If traveling with your laptop, update your virus protection software before leaving home. Do not store financial information on your laptop or smartphone unless it is absolutely necessary. Turn off your smartphone’s wi-fi and bluetooth connection when in public spaces to reduce the risk of hackers accessing your phone.
Airport tips – While at the airport, it is important to keep your luggage at your side until you have checked in. Carry-on bags should be kept close at all times and should contain one day of clothing, toiletries, medications in their original containers, and duplicate copies of IDs.
Hotel safety – Never answer the door blindly. Ask all visitors to announce themselves. If something seems suspicious, call the front desk. Use the hotel safe to store valuables when leaving your room.