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Staying Safe While Traveling

Your personal security is just as important away from home as at home. When you travel, stay alert for situations that can compromise the safety of you and your family. Here are a few travel tips to review. Have you seen the movie "Taken"? If you haven'nt, it's about a couple of teens traveling abroad alone that run into trouble with white slavers. Watching closely, you will see several mistakes the girls made that seemed innocent but actually endangered their lives. We'll address 9 personal security tips to avoid making those same mistakes here.

1. Make copies of all your information. You never know when luggage will get lost or stolen. Have a second copy of passports, birth certificates, travel tickets, hotel confirmations and credit cards on your person just in case. Keep current photos of everyone in the family.

2. Always stay together. It seems like a good idea to split up and meet back up later but it's not, especially if one person goes alone. You are safer in large numbers against "snatch and grab" attacks or other criminals.

3. Don't give out personal information about yourself to strangers. It is nice to ask for directions from native people when you are a tourist, but don't tell them too much. In the movie, a guy asks the girls to share a cab. In the course of casual conversation, he asks them where they are staying and if they are staying alone. That was all the information he needed to kidnap them later.

4. Don't let your purse dangle. A dangling handbag or purse is easier to grab off your arm or off the arm of a chair. Also, carrying too many bags means you are not paying attention to your purse and it can be easily stolen.

5. Avoid the elevator if you are alone. Maybe you are tired and meeting the rest of the group later for dinner. Getting into the elevator alone, especially if you are a woman could make you an easy target for thieves or rapists, especially if you don't have a personal security item like pepper spray.

6. Lock up personal items. Leaving credit cards and valuables lying around your room is a recipe for disaster. Lock them up in the hotel safe or keep them on your person when leaving the room.

7. Use valet parking with a car. This is especially helpful when coming back from dinner or sightseeing at night. You might have to park far from the hotel entrance in a dimly lit area. If valet service is offered, use it. It is much safer for you.

8. Stick to popular tourist attractions. Many tourists have been mugged or killed by going down back alleys or trying to "soak up the local atmosphere." Stay on the beaten path to be safe.

9. Always carry pepper spray. It never hurts to be prepared for anything with a personal security item like pepper spray. The key here is not to be afraid to travel. Traveling is fun. Remember to be as street smart away from home as you are at home and have a plan as well as carry a personal security device like pepper spray.

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