For most of us, taking a vacation only happens once a year. Planning an enjoyable vacation can be very time-consuming, but fun, as long as you remember to include some basic safety and security measures. All too often, vacationers get caught up in the excitement and are unable to detect or prevent possible theft of their possessions or other crimes.

Pre-Vacation Security Measures

Before ever leaving on your vacation, there are some basic security measures that you should take. Listed below are some ways to ensure and protect your home from a possible burglary through the duration of your vacation. The key to protecting your home while you are gone is to make it look like you never left.

  1. Completely evaluate all entrances to your home. Make sure all windows and door locks are working properly, and remove all keys from "hidden" places.
  2. Keep shades and blinds in their normal positions.
  3. Discontinue mail delivery by making a quick phone call to the Post Office, and have a trusted neighbor pick up your daily newspaper. A visible accumulation of mail and newspapers can be a tip-off to a burglar that there is no one home to pick them up.
  4. Ask a neighbor to watch for any signs of burglary activity in your home, such as lights flickering or strange noises. If you have any automatic timed lights, let that neighbor know the schedule.
  5. Make sure that all property you are taking with you can be properly identified if stolen or lost.
  6. Most importantly, do not announce to anyone that you are taking a vacation. Your absence at work will obviously let people know you are gone, but they do not need to know when you are leaving or when you will be back. The less people know, the safer you will be.

Protective Measures During Your Vacation

While enjoying your vacation, do not neglect to keep a watchful eye on your property and possessions. Your entire vacation can be easily ruined if you become careless with your money or leave property unattended. If you follow the safety measures listed below, you can minimize your chances of being a crime victim.

  1. If you are traveling by airplane, be sure to properly mark all luggage and keep it all in sight until it is boarded onto the plane.
  2. If you are traveling by car, keep all luggage and possessions locked in the trunk. Visible property is enticing to a thief.
  3. Upon reaching your destination, make yourself familiar with locations and numbers of emergency services, such as the police, ambulance and fire departments.
  4. Keep all motel/hotel keys in close proximity to you and keep your room locked at all times.
  5. Be aware of your geographical area at all times. When traveling around your vacation spot, observe street signs and make a mental note of key locations. Know where you are at all times!
  6. Stay away from urban or downtown areas, as these places are known to have a higher crime rate.
  7. Carry your personal items wisely:
    • Keep your cash and credit cards separate at all times.
    • Do not carry all your money with you at all times. Take with you only what you need!
    • Plan to use credit cards or traveler’s checks instead of cash whenever possible.
    • Know all your credit card numbers and know the telephone numbers to call if your cards are stolen or lost.
    • Do not make yourself "look" like a tourist. Do not walk around with maps visible; plan your travel strategy beforehand. Keep all personal items to a minimum, and do not announce to inhabitants of the area that your are on vacation.
    • Make sure all purses or camera bags are closed and are tightly secured to your body. When shopping or dining, do not set your purse down on countertops or floors.
  8. If you are traveling with children, do not let them out of your sight, and keep in mind the following tips:
    • Always note what they are wearing so if they become separated from you, you can give more concrete description to the authorities.
    • Make sure they know what you are wearing, and are able to accurately describe you.
    • Make sure they know the name of the motel/hotel where you are staying, and if possible have them keep a list consisting of your full name, the motel/hotel phone numbers, and the police station’s number.
    • If you are inside a large building or an amusement park, point out to your children key places to go if they become lost or separated from you.

The most enjoyable vacations are those that are worry-free. You can make the most of your vacation if you keep all the above tips and preventative measures in mind while you are vacationing. Do not become careless or neglectful with either yourself, your family, or your possessions. With this in mind, have a safe and enjoyable vacation, and don't become a crime victim!