Terrorism. Zika. Accidents. These are the types of safety issues we tend to worry about when traveling. But what travelers often forget is that the most obvious — and largely preventable — safety threats are those we bring upon ourselves through carelessness or a lack of planning.
Here are 6 safety mistakes you’re probably making and how to fix them.
1. Sharing your whereabouts with the world
We get it: photos or it didn’t happen. But whether you’re humblebragging about a 5-mile hike (“I didn’t think I’d be able to make it to the top of paradise, but I did.”) or straight up bragging about your cocktails at sunset, letting the world know where you are (read: not at home) can be an invitation for burglary. Save the pics for your return.
2. Not changing your digits
Your passwords. Your PIN. Think about all the numbers you’ve been using on your trip. Thieves can be patient and they may be waiting to access accounts (or worse, steal your identity) using numbers they pilfered while you were traveling. The safest strategy is to change all your codes after you’ve been entering them into unknown machines and using open Wi-Fi. (Admit it, you probably should’ve changed your password months ago. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has learned the hard way.)
And of course you check your statements faithfully every month … right? If you don’t, now’s the time to start. Make sure you go over them with a fine-tooth comb for a couple of months after your vacation.
3. Inadvertently exposing your room number
While the days of having a key emblazoned with your room number are long gone, there are still ways that your room number could fall into the wrong hands. Speak quietly with the check-in clerk to avoid having them inadvertently disclose it. (Same for the server at the downstairs bistro.) And always be aware of your surroundings when getting off an elevator. If you don’t feel safe, go back to the main floor and seek assistance.
4. Neglecting to safeguard valuables in hotels
Most hotels offer an in-room safe with varying degrees of actual “safety.” (Obviously someone in the hotel needs to know how to open them to retrieve the items when you check out and forget them). While it’s better than nothing, there are 2 other options to consider. You can secure items in a suitcase with your own combination lock and keep it in the closet, which is especially helpful for bulkier items that wouldn’t fit in the standard room safe. Or, you can bring your items down to the front desk for safekeeping. While not as convenient, it might be more secure since hotels have liability for items you leave with them (and not those in the hotel safe).
5. Failing to downsize your wallet before you go
A recent Experian® survey found that 20 percent of travelers had lost an item containing personal information like a drivers license, passport, or credit card. An easy way to avoid loss is to leave anything you don’t need at home, but almost half of these travelers said they don’t remove unnecessary credit cards before leaving. A slimmer wallet is also easier to tote, so ditch those coffee cards, gift cards, and anything else extraneous. The ideal travel wallet should contain your drivers license, a credit card or 2, your ATM card, and your health insurance information.
6. Not making copies of your passport and other docs
With today’s technology, there’s no excuse for not having a copy of all your important documents. Make copies of your passport, license, and anything else you’re carrying with you and tuck them into a carry-on. You can also scan them and email them to yourself for easy electronic retrieval. Not only can the copies help you more easily obtain new documents, but they can also provide helpful numbers to call if you need to cancel a lost or stolen credit card.