“Safe travels!” We hear it all the time when someone’s wishing us farewell for a trip, and we say it to each other, too. In fact, it’s SO common that we handily dismiss it without even really thinking about what might help us actually HAVE safe travels.
If you regularly coordinate or manage events or trade shows, you’re probably a frequent flyer, and because of that, being in an airport, airplane, rental car, hotel, and lots of other places just becomes your regular job. You grow comfortable and acclimate to these different environments and because they are routine for you, you might not place a high priority on remembering to be safe.
Bad things can happen anywhere at anytime, even in the comfort and safety of your own home, so this article isn’t intended to fill you with fear, especially the fear of traveling. It’s intended to help you be prepared. Armed with the right information and helpful tips, you will be able to be a ready, confident traveler. There are a few basic categories to consider that we will explore:
- Before Your Trip
- In the Airport
- If you Uber
- At the Car Rental
- At the Hotel
Before Your Trip
While this isn’t a “what to pack” article, there are safety-related items that you should definitely remember to pack. Try to think of things that you would have a hard time replacing should you forget them. For example, some oft-forgotten, important items are:
- Cell phone and charger
- Driver’s license (and passport, if needed)
- Prescriptions medications
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses
- iPad, laptop, other devices (and their power cords!)
Another important reminder is to let some trusted people know where you’re going.
- Share your travel itinerary (consider using a Microsoft travel itinerary template).
- Share the details of your flights and hotel stays.
- Turn on your phone’s GPS services so you can be located.
Finally, before you leave home, research popular scams currently trending just so that you’re aware of your surroundings and can avoid getting ripped off (or worse).
- A quick Google search before visiting a new city or country can acquaint you with common scams travelers encounter.
- Choose a safe, stylish backpack to carry with you on your travels to make traveling easier and more convenient. Put your phone number only on the luggage tag for extra security. If you feel best having your full information on your luggage tag (full name, address, etc.), get a closed luggage tag to protect your personal data..
In The Airport
Airports can be stressful places to navigate, especially when you’re already stressing a little about where you’re going and what you have to do when you get there. Use the following tips to help alleviate potential problems at the airport and to stay safe while managing yourself and your belongings.
- Try to maintain a low profile while traveling. Don’t make yourself a possible target by wearing the flashiest jewelry or carrying your Louis Vuitton bag. This will also help you get through security more swiftly.
- Keep your eyes open and remain aware of your surroundings.
- Never abandon your bags or purse or computer, even to run to the restroom or grab a coffee. Laptops are a popular theft item in airports. Tens of thousands of them are stolen every month in American airports.
- Keep your valuables together and keep them with you. Have an accessories bag that holds your devices, your phone, your ID, etc. and hold onto it. Some bags have secret pockets that allow you to tuck money or ID or other valuables into them. By keeping them together and keeping them with you, you always know where they are and that they are safe.
- Once you’re in the air, tuck your carry-on safely under the seat in front of you or overhead, but consider hanging on to your personal item. If you’re a sleeper, you’ll want to be able to close your eyes peacefully, so you might consider a wire-lock for your bags, which will enable you to secure them to the overhead compartment or the seat legs without the fear of something taking them.
If You Uber
- Check ahead of time for the location of the rideshare pickup area from your gate.
- When your Uber pulls up, make sure it’s YOURS by a quick check of the make, model, and tag number of the car.
- Double check that it’s your ride by asking the driver who they are picking up BEFORE you get into the car.
- Communicate with a colleague or friend before you hop in a rideshare. If possible, share an Uber with someone else.
- Uber and Lyft come equipped with HELP buttons. If you feel unsafe at any time, press the button or even dial 911.
If You Rent a Car
- Check ahead of time for the location of the rental car pickup area from your gate.
- Be sure to ask the rental car agency about auto insurance coverage. Often, your personal auto insurance will transfer to rental cars, so don’t pay extra if you don’t have to. Do be sure to ask the rental agent about what to do if anything does happen to your rental.
- Pre-search the best route to get you to your hotel or event hall.
- Before you leave the rental car lot, take pictures of the outside of the car to document the condition.
- Take a minute to get familiar with how the car works – windshield wipers, lights, climate control, GPS. The last thing you want is to be zooming down the freeway, looking for your hotel, and trying to find the windshield washers!
- And absolutely set your GPS to your route before you begin driving!
- Depending on what state you’re driving in, you might need to be aware of cell phone usage laws. Many states now have hands-free driving laws.
At The Hotel
If you have control over the hotel you book, you can spend some time researching a nice hotel in a safe neighborhood. Google Maps and Crime Reports will tell you everything you need to know about the safety of an area. If you don’t have control over your booking or if your company books for you, you can still educate yourself about the safety of the area in which you’ll be staying. Once you get there, keep a few things in mind.
- Always remain observant when you’re checking in about who’s in the lobby and hanging around outside the building.
- Hotel staff are usually fairly discreet, but be sure your room number isn’t written on the key or key holder and that it isn’t announced out loud.
- Try to get a room on an upper floor. Statistically, the lower floors are most often targeted for crime because they make for an easier in-and-out.
- Anytime you are on an elevator with someone else, ask them their floor so you can press it first. You can then press a different floor number than your actual floor number if that makes you feel safer. You can always go up or down a floor, get off, and take the stairs.
- Make sure no one is following you or watching you as you enter your room. If you suspect someone is, then don’t enter your room and head toward the lobby or vending or some other destination.
- Once you’re in your room, deadbolt the lock. The door should always be deadbolted if you are inside. This is an easy, extra measure of protection for you.
- Upon arrival to your room, scan it for hidden cameras. A quick internet search can guide you about the best, most savvy way to do this.
The best tip for maintaining safety throughout any trip is just to remain aware of your surroundings. Take your time, prepare well, don’t be in a rush, and you’ll arrive safely to your event. And remember . . . safe travels!
This article was inspired by "Top Safety Travel Tips: What You Need to Know For Your Next Trip" by Jeanette Armbrust and first appeared at skyline.com