The holidays are filled with family, friends and lots of good things to eat and drink. But considering Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest times to travel all year, they can also be filled with stress and put us at a greater risk for theft. Busy airports, traffic and increased spending can take the fa la la out of your holiday vacation.
Here are 9 tips for staying safe while traveling this holiday season.
1. Put down the selfie stick. You’re having a great time and it’s tempting to share it on social media – you know with thousands of your closest friends. Be smart about what you post and when. Never post your itinerary on social media. Keep updates fun but leave out specifics about where you are and how long you’ll be gone for. Better yet, wait to post all those awesome pictures until you return from your trip.
2. Monitor your bank accounts. The holidays are filled with travel and spending, which can make fraud difficult to detect. Busy gas stations, tourist attractions and shopping malls are where many credit card numbers get stolen. Check your accounts daily, especially when traveling and for several days after.
3. Secure your home before you leave. Make sure all windows and doors are locked. Additionally, stop your mail and make sure any packages that will be delivered are held or picked up by a trusted neighbor. Mail, packages at the door and a dark house are big signals to thieves that no one is home.
4. Plan for delays. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. AAA estimates that 44 million people will travel over Thanksgiving alone with the vast majority traveling by car. Allow yourself extra time to account for traffic if you’re driving. The same goes if you’re flying. Plan for longer than usual check in and TSA lines.
5. Avoid public wifi. Free wifi is convenient but be cautious using it, especially at airports and hotel lobbies. Never login into bank accounts or enter passwords when on public wifi.
6. Share your itinerary with a friend or loved one. Let them know your flight details, car route, hotel information and other pertinent details of your travel. While everyone should take up this policy it’s especially important for those traveling alone.
7. Separate your money. Keep an extra credit card or spare cash either locked in the hotel safe or secured in a separate part of the bag you carry (i.e. not in your wallet). This way should you lose your wallet or discover your card number has been compromised, you have alternative ways to cover expenses.
8. Keep important items in your carry on. If you’ll be flying this holiday season, pack essentials in your carry on. Medications, extra eyeglasses or contacts and important documents should all stay with you. Other things to consider keeping within arms reach? Phone charger, change of clothes and snacks.
9. Give your car a checkup. If you’ll be driving to your destination, make sure to give your vehicle a thorough checkup before you leave. Get the oil changed, check your windshield wipers, ensure brake lights and headlights are working and check tire pressure.