Planning the itinerary for your next trip, packing your bags, and going on vacation mode as soon as you walk out the door are the exciting part about travel. It’s time to leave all your worries behind and focus on having a good time...HOLD UP. Not so fast! Let's talk about safety, baby! I’ve teamed up with SimpliSafe to bring you a savvy, simple guide so that you and yours can leave your stress at the door and enjoy a worry-free getaway. Read on!
- B E F O R E Y O U L E A V E -
Don’t forget about your home - over 2 million residences in the USA get broken into every year (FBI). And while you may not think it’ll happen to you and your abode, it’s better safe than sorry and take simple, yet necessary precautions, right? So, what if you can’t help but wonder if your home will be safe while you’re gone?
1. Leave a key with someone you trust, like a parent or a good neighbor. We always leave a spare with my parents when we travel out of town (they live closest to us). That way, they can check up on our home, get our mail, water our plants and cut our grass. (An overgrown lawn plus overstuffed mailbox scream "Nobody's home!")
2. Make sure your pets are well taken care of. Pet owners - don't forget your precious animal friends!! If you're traveling abroad or going to be gone for a while, I recommend leaving your pet with someone you trust who is able to care for them as needed. Regardless if someone is checking up on them once or even twice per day, I urge you to not leave your pet alone at home. You never know what can happen! Call us overprotective fur parents, but we do not leave our dog home alone when we travel because of various reasons: she could get sick, someone could break in and hurt or steal her, she could eat something harmful, and she would definitely become very stressed, anxious (like when there is a thunderstorm), and depressed (what can I say - she's our baby). If you have a dog, chances are they miss you when you're gone, say, at work for 8 hours; imagine how they feel when they are home alone for days! This is why I highly recommend leaving pets - especially dogs who crave social interaction and human attention - with someone you trust and who preferably knows them, or checking out quality doggie daycares. When picking a center, read ratings and reviews, and make sure to ask for a tour and ask questions, because you want to be 100% sure your doggy is going to be in good hands when you're gone. It's also a good idea to drop off your pooch with a bag of necessary items (like medication), a list of instructions (like feeding times), and contact info (like an emergency contact or vet's number). Extra steps, but so worth it. He/she is worth it (and so is your peace of mind)!
3. Turn off and unplug all electronic devices. Robbers are bad, but fires are worse. The last thing you want is your house going up in smoke while you're gone. I found these suggestions from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council along with this info helpful.
4. Set some lights (and even a radio) to timers. This'll give the impression that the house is not vacant and make the bad guys reconsider breaking in. Motion-censored lights are great to scare them off, too! In fact, contrary to what we see in movies and tv shows, breaking into an occupied home is a chance most aren't willing to take.
5. Park your car inside of your garage. Don't leave your car in the driveway - if it gets dirty from the rain or covered in leaves, it indicates that it's been sitting there for a long time without being used. Also, it obviously may be stolen or vandalized. If you don't have a garage I'd recommend parking your car at a friend's or family member's house.
6. Go "Home Alone" on those thieves and set up some tricks. Okay, no, I'm not talking about those cool booby-traps...but you can (figuratively) trip them up Kevin McCallister style without breaking the bank by setting up some fake/old/non-functional security cameras near front and rear entrances and some windows (make sure all curtains and blinds are shut). Adding a "Beware of Dog" sign won't hurt, too. Of course, a good security system is always a good investment. If you're in the market for one, here is a good option!
Speaking of thieves, I found this post funny and clever! Something to think about.
- W H E N Y O U A R R I V E -
So, you've made sure your house has a better chance of kicking some burglar butt while you're gone. Great! Now you're about to take off - but do you know how to be safe when traveling too? Don't worry, I gotchu. 6 more tips here, to the rescue!
1. Do your research and be prepared. I highly advise looking into dangers and recent news of wherever you're headed. It's important to be aware of weather conditions, disease, accessibility to health care (getting sick abroad is no joke - it happened to me in India), the socio-political state of the country (obviously, if there are riots going on for example, you need to avoid this place for now), crime rates (you might be a walking bullseye; see #2), and hotel/hostel/AirBnB reviews. Vacations are great fun, but they're even better when you know what you're getting into. Otherwise, they can turn out to be the trip from hell.
2. Don't be that tourist. Don't stick out like a sore thumb. Nothing says "naïve, oblivious tourist" like a foreigner wandering around clearly looking lost (or venturing down dark alleyways...common sense, people!), or waving their money around. Blend in with the locals and leave bulky bags at home; I only ever carry a small purse (if I feel like I am in a safe area - if not, I won't carry a purse) and we've managed just fine that way. Always be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, and don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of - it's time to use your street smarts. You did your research before you came here, so use your knowledge to avoid common pitfalls.
3. Be aware of where you keep your valuables. Don't put your wallet/cell phone/valuables in your back pocket. Please! I can't stress this enough. Also, don't store all of your valuables in one place. If you are out venturing the entire day, bring as much cash with you as you think you'll need, and your credit card just in case there's an emergency. However, leave most of your cash in a security box/safe back at your base - a lot of hotel rooms have them, or you can buy a miniature one online. It may be a good investment. If these options aren't available, you can stash some cash in the bottom of a tampon/pad box, not many would think of looking in there! It's important to have some money available in case you get mugged or lose your wallet. Which leads me to...
4. Make copies of your important documents. Your ID/passport, visa, plane tickets, credit cards, travel itinerary...they're all important! The originals may be lost, damaged, or stolen. Also, before you go, leave copies with a trustworthy relative or friend just in case. Being extra safe is always worth the trouble...especially when you're far from home.
5. Bring along some health and safety items. Like medication, since it may be hard to get or really expensive wherever you're going, and "alert" mechanisms (especially if you're a woman) such as mace or a whistle. (Note that you can't fly with mace in your carry-on, but you can bring it in your checked luggage.)
6. Make like you never left. Leave a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door and the TV or radio on when you leave your hotel room. This'll trick thieves into believing that there's someone in the room and discourage them from entering.
Not everything is going to go 100% your way, and definitely not perfectly, but what matters most is that you enjoy yourself! And the peace of mind that you and your home are safe will allow you to do just that. x
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