While travel safety is always in the back of our minds, it’s easy to be caught off guard when you’re trying to let loose and have a little fun. However, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean scammers, thieves, and criminals are too. In fact, aggravated assaults and robberies in the U.S. increased in the first half of 2022 compared to last year.
According to mid-year U.S. crime trends reported by the Council of Criminal Justice, aggravated assaults are up by 4%, while robberies have increased by 16%. Further, the latest Destination Analysts insights revealed that 43% of American travelers have reported: “elevated levels of concern about their personal safety when thinking about traveling domestically.”
While you shouldn’t let these facts stop you from going on vacation, there are essential steps you should take to protect yourself and your valuables while traveling.
Travel Safety Tips You Need to Know
1. Preparing Your Home Before Vacation
Preparing your home before vacation is an important step that is usually overlooked. According to the Council of Criminal Justice mid-year report, residential burglaries, larcenies, and vehicle thefts in the U.S. are on the rise. With that in mind, here are a few easy steps you can take to protect your home while away.
- Lock up, set alarms, and turn on security cameras
- Put away the spare key or give it to someone you trust
- Hide your valuable items or lock them up in a safe
- Have a trusted friend or family member check-in
- Store your car in the garage or make sure it’s locked
2. Research Your Vacation Destination
Some places in the U.S. are more dangerous than others. In fact, the Destination Analysts insight report revealed that 42% of Americans said there are specific locations they refuse to visit due to safety concerns. A simple online search of the city’s crime trends will give insight into the destination’s current challenges. If you must travel to a location with an unusually high crime rate, research the areas you’ll visit beforehand.
3. Stay at a Reputable Hotel or Vacation Rental
If safety is of particular concern to you, be sure to do research into where you’ll be staying. Not only will this ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable stay, but it can also help keep you safe. This may mean missing out on budget stays, but it will give you peace of mind. Read hotel reviews and avoid vacation rental scams by booking through a reputable online booking agency.
4. Using Credit Cards, Carrying Cash, and Wearing Jewelry
First and foremost, let your credit card company know when and where you’ll be traveling so they can monitor for fraud. Most credit card companies and banks have a simple feature in their online portal that’ll let you easily input this information.
Also, be sure to limit the amount of cash that you have on you. That way, if you are targeted by a scammer or pick pocketer, you won’t be wiped out financially.
Lastly, while bringing your gorgeous diamond necklace with you for a night out on the town may sound like a good idea, think again. Flashy jewelry could catch the wrong person’s eye, making you the perfect target for a thief. Keep yourself and your valuables safe by keeping them locked up at home.
5. Consider Getting Travel Insurance
Travel emergencies are unpredictable. And while travel insurance cannot protect you against these emergencies, it can help alleviate the financial stress of any losses you may incur during your trip. You could be reimbursed for stolen luggage, broken gadgets, and injuries, depending on your policy. The cost to insure a vacation is typically 4% – 11%+ of your total trip cost, depending on your chosen policy and other factors.
6. Travel With A Group Instead of Going Solo
While traveling solo can be invigorating, traveling with a group is always the safer option. If you must travel solo, though, be sure you’ve done your research into the areas you’ll be visiting. Consider taking group tours and staying with crowds. Avoid walking around at night in unfamiliar areas when you’re alone, and carry some sort of protection like pepper spray. Most importantly, keep friends and family in the know when it comes to your whereabouts.
7. Drink Responsibly and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol is often a way to relax and have fun, but drinking responsibly and limiting consumption is important to stay safe in a new place. Alcohol can impair judgment and coordination, making it more difficult to travel safely or respond to emergencies. If you’re traveling with a group, consider taking turns being the designated sober companion when you go out. And, of course, if you’re traveling with your own vehicle, have a designated driver lined up. Following these simple guidelines can help ensure that your night out is enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.
8. Be Wary of What You Tell New Acquaintances
One of the many reasons people love to travel is the opportunity to meet new people. However, you should do so with caution. When meeting new people, there is no way of knowing what exactly their intentions are or what their ulterior motives may be. Don’t give out details about where you are staying, and don’t accept rides from strangers. By being mindful of the personal information you share, you can help protect yourself against scams and other dangers.
9. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Whenever you travel, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. This means being aware of who and what is around you at all times. Trust your gut instinct if something feels off. If you see something suspicious, don’t hesitate to call for help. By being mindful of your surroundings, you can help to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a crime.
10. Keep Your Friends and Family in the Know
It’s always a good idea to let your family or close friends know where you’re going when you travel, even if it’s just a short trip. That way, if something happens and you can’t get in touch with them, they’ll at least know where to start looking for you. It’s also a good idea to check in with them periodically, especially if you’re going to be out of touch for a while (e.g., hiking in the wilderness with no cell service). In today’s world, staying connected is easy, so there’s really no excuse not to let people know where you are.
Final Thoughts on Travel Safety
When traveling, it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to stay safe. When visiting a new place, research the area. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables, and always keep your belongings close to you. If possible, travel with a friend or group, and stay together in well-lit, busy areas. Trust your instincts, move to a more public place if you feel unsafe, or reach out to local authorities for help. Taking these few simple precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.