Your safety when you travel depends on a number of things, including where you are traveling to, how you are traveling, and with whom you are traveling. But taking some simple precautions before you leave and while you're traveling can benefit anyone on any trip.
Don't let criminals know that there is no one home. Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a neighbor to pick them up every day. Keep shades and blinds in their normal positions, put household lights on timers, and make sure that your grass is mowed (or walk is shoveled, depending on the season.) Make sure that all doors and windows are locked. Let a trusted friend or relative know how to reach you and when you'll return.
Pack lightly and avoid taking expensive or irreplaceable items. Keep track of what you've packed in case your luggage is lost. Don't forget important items like credit cards, insurance information, and medical necessities. If you are flying, be sure to pack valuables and anything that can't be replaced easily (such as medicine and credit cards) in your carry-on bag. You may want to buy a money belt to keep money, credit cards, identification, and other important papers close to your body.
Don't leave your bags open, unattended, or in an unlocked or unsupervised area.
Avoid looking like a tourist or traveler as much as possible (criminals see vacationers as easy targets.) Try not to wear or carry expensive and flashy items, jewelry, and clothing. Check maps and directions before you go out so you can travel confidently. Don't advertise that you're a tourist by carrying a guidebook or leaving maps out in the open (this goes for your car as well.)
Stick to well-lit, well-traveled streets and avoid shortcuts. If you must ask for directions, ask the police, a travel agent or someone who's on the job (such as a hotel receptionist or bank teller.) Don't ask people on the street who may be free to misdirect then follow you. Whenever possible, travel with a friend or group.
Visit the U.S. State Department's Web site for information on visas, health advisories, travel warnings, and travel tips for the overseas traveler.
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