As a person who travels quite a bit, I try to make sure that I consistently adhere to good security practices. As such, i am going to share a few tips on how to not only protect yourself, but to also protect your valuables and have a good trip.
- Before you depart
- Put your mail on hold and, if you have a newspaper subscription, suspend your delivery service.
- Set timers in multiple areas of your home. You can set the timers to come on when you would normally depart your home for work and turn off when you would go to bed. You can also set the timers for random times.
- Close your blinds and curtains. The last thing that you want to do is have someone peeping in at your valuables.
- Notify a trusted individual that you will be out of town. This individual can periodically pop up to make sure that all is well.
2. Parking at the airport
- Make sure you park your car in a well lit area. Never park where there is an obstructed view- you cannot see other people and they cannot see you.
- Make sure that you lock your car doors and no valuables are visible.
- Make note of your parking spot so that you do have to wander aimlessly through the parking lot, especially late at night.
- Always have your keys in hand when you are returning to your vehicle.
3. In the airport or train station
- When passing through security, make sure the person in front of you has fully cleared security before you put your items through the xray machine.
- If you are concerned about your private parts being displayed on the magnetometer video, opt out and get a pat down. It may take a moment before a same sex officer can get to you, so make sure you mind your personal belongings that have already gone through the magnetometer.
- Keep an eye on your carry-on bags.
- Do not offer to watch anyone’s bags, unless you know the individual.
- When using the restroom, place your purse on the door hook, not on the floor. This makes it very difficult for someone to reach under the stall to grab a purse. If you have a laptop bag or other carry-on that may be too heavy for the hook on the door, you can opt to hold on to one of the handles while using the restroom. If this is not feasible, try to put the bag as close to center as possible on the floor. Not so close as to get splashed, but close enough where you can react quickly if some decides to be as daring as to make a play for the bag or carry-on.
- If you are using a laptop or other automated information system for personal matters or business, make sure the screen is not visible to prying eyes. You will be surprised how many bank accounts and business documents have been viewed by shoulder surfers.
4. On the plane, train, or boat
- Make sure your personal belongings are within your direct line of sight- either directly under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin across from your seat.
5. In the hotel
- When checking in, make sure that your credit card numbers and identification cards are not visible to the prying eyes of those who may be at the front desk or standing behind you.
- Ensure that the front desk worker does not broadcast your room number when providing you with the keys. If this does happen, immediately request a new room and ask that the number is written down vice being verbally communicated.
- If possible, opt for a room away from the elevators and exit doors. Request a room that is in the middle of the hall.
- When you arrive in your room, close the door behind you and ensure that the deadbolt lock is engaged.
- Draw the curtains in your room to ensure your privacy.
- If the hotel has a safe in the room, place your valuables in the safe and lock it using a strong password- not something simple like 1234, 9876, 5555, or 2468 and definitely not your room number.
- Place the do not disturb sign on the door, even when you are in the room. However, do not forget to room the sign when you leave during the day and need your room refreshed.
- When you leave your room, leave the radio or television on to give the appearance that the room is occupied.
- Mind your environment. If you feel that you are being followed, do not go directly to your room. Make a detour and go to a safe, populated area.
6. When traveling in a vehicle or by foot
- Make sure you have directions to where you are going.
- If traveling in a vehicle, make sure the vehicle is in good running condition and that you have plenty of gas.
- When traveling by foot, stay to well traveled paths. Do not venture down alley ways or isolated paths where you cannot be seen.
- If traveling by foot, make sure you wear proper footwear (just in case you have to bust out in a full on sprint to get away from the stalker– I joke). Wearing proper footwear is essential if you will be traveling along different types of terrains.
- Stay visible, if traveling at night. Do not wear dark colors.
- If you have to stop at a rest area, make sure it is one with a 24 hour patrol or at least a security officer on duty.
- Make sure you carry some money, in case you have to hail a cab, access public transit, or make an emergency call.