When you leave home for vacation do you stop and think about your safety before you go?
I want to finish out the week with travel security and ways to keep yourself from being a victim of identity theft or plain old fashioned theft.
Credit Cards ~ Unpack before you pack.
Take time to go through your wallet and take out any credit cards, debit cards, social security cards or a checkbook that you don’t need when you travel. They are tempting to thieves.
My recommendation when traveling is that you travel with only 2 credit cards and are cards that are designated for traveling only and not your main credit cards. If they are stolen or compromised they are not attached to your everyday life. If the only charges on these cards are related to your trip it is much easier to track any charges not made by you. If possible one of these cards should be an American Express card. If your American Express card is stolen you can go into any Amex office and have it immediately replaced and the stolen card closed. Leave 1 card in the hotel or cruise ship cabin safe and keep only one on you. That way if you are a victim of a pickpocket, you still have one card and you can easily close the card that was stolen. Leave copies of your credit cards at home or with a trusted family member so you can get in touch with them to get the information on who to call with the account number if you need to report it stolen.
Leave the debit card to your main accounts home. Consider opening a separate checking and savings account with a debit card attached to these accounts only for travel. Before you leave home, put enough money in each of these accounts to get you through your trip. If the debit card is stolen, they won’t have access to your main accounts and the financial loss will be minimal. In countries abroad, many ATM machines will only accept 4 digit pin codes, so make sure your pin code meets that requirement.
When traveling use bank ATM machines only. Sometimes I know it can be tempting to stop at the ATM kiosk in the hotel lobby or a convenience store, but don’t. Thieves can and do install card readers in ATM machines at these unattended machines. They will capture your card number and pin code.
When traveling be very cautious about accessing your personal bank accounts, credit card accounts and even your Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites on an unsecured wi-fi connection. Your personal information and passwords can be easily compromised.
Are you on Facebook with 700 friends? If so, it may not be a good idea to post all about your trip, where you are and how long you are going to be gone. You never know who may see it and pay a visit to your unattended home, it has been known to happen. If you can, wait and post the beautiful vacation photos once you are home.
Would you consider setting up an e-mail address that you use only when you travel? This is a great idea. Use the account only when you travel, set your login and password for the account as something you don’t use on anything personal. Don’t store sensitive information in this e-mail account and then you don’t have to worry about it being hacked.
If you store bank information, pin codes and social media apps on your phone, you may want to consider deleting them and re-installing them once you are back home. Or simply set a password so if the phone is stolen, no one can access the phone and it’s contents.
Put a copy in carry-on, keep the original with you while traveling. Once you are in your destination, carry a copy with you, put the original in a safe and keep a separate copy hidden in your luggage just in case it is stolen. Leave a copy at home and have your travel consultant keep your passport information in your file. This will insure that someone will have the number, issue date and expiration date in case you need to visit the embassy for a replacement.
Did you know that you can register for the Smart Traveler Program through the U.S. State Dept. at https://travelregistration.state.gov? This allows the State Dept. to contact you in case of an emergency in your destination, or in case of a family emergency back home.
Whew, we made it to the last one. Check your medical insurance company to see how your coverage will protect you while traveling out of the country. Ask them if they provide emergency medical care, and emergency evacuation. If not, seriously consider purchasing Travel Insurance through your travel consultant. The cost is very reasonable and most policies provide emergency medical care, emergency evacuation, lost luggage, travel interruption and more. It is well worth the cost. You just never know when you may miss a step and break an ankle, trip and fall and you need emergency care.
I was pretty long winded today and I’m sorry it drug on, but I want you to have the information you need to keep you safe while traveling. As a travel consultant the last thing I want to hear from my clients is that they were robbed on vacation, or someone had their identity stolen or was injured.
Have fun and travel smart and safe!