The holidays are upon us once again. A time for us to gather with family and friends, be thankful, eat a lot of food, and relax. It’s also a time for high traffic, dangerous weather conditions, and criminal activity.
An empty home is an easy target for crime. Before heading out for your trip, either leave a few lights on or use a timer system to automatically switch your lights on/off. For extra security, you can reach out to your local police agency to see if they offer a “vacation watch” service. With that, be sure to know your local non-emergency number in case your security camera system alerts you while you are out of town. To be sure mail and newspapers aren’t piling up outside, making it look like no one is home, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your property and collect your mail; or file a “mail hold” at the post office.
Check that your health insurance covers you at your destination, and how and where to use it there. Consider buying travel insurance if you think it could be necessary. Provide your family and friends with your travel itinerary and any necessary contact information.
Don’t advertise on social media that you are traveling as it lets people know your home is empty – wait until you are back to share your photos to social platforms.
Traveling to your destination
First and foremost, always buckle up. Have directions to your destination saved to your phone and/or printed out in the case GPS is not available. Keep a picture of your insurance card on your phone or use your insurance company’s app - as well as your ID and vaccination card if applicable. Store a bag with essentials (coat, blankets, travel battery, umbrella, window brush/scraper) in the trunk in case of emergencies. When stopping for gas, choose a well-lit, populated area easily accessible to the highway.
Especially in the winter weather, maintain a safe distance between cars. Add snow tires or chains to your vehicle as needed. If renting a car, be sure to talk to the company to ensure you’ll have what you need. With that, check that your auto insurance covers rentals – if not you can likely purchase it through the rental company .
And, of course, never drive under the influence or when you are overly tired. Arrange for a designated driver, plan to stay overnight, or call a ride share service.
Know your gate location and go directly there, and be sure to keep your bags with you at all times. If possible, only travel with a carry-on as it is the only way to ensure your property will be safe and arrive at your destination when you do. Keep your medication (in the original bottle to show it is prescribed to you) in your carry-on, and bring extra in case your return is delayed. Also, know the environment you're going to and check the weather before leaving.
Stay up to date on what is going on locally at your destination and if there are any travel alerts. If traveling out of the country, be sure to know the location of your embassy and how to contact them before leaving.
If you are out of the country, you may need to get a local SIM card for your cell phone to make calls. Also, learn the local emergency code as other countries do not use 9-1-1.
Traveling With Pets
Make sure pets are up to date with shots/vaccines. You can also see if a “pet passport” is available. Be sure you understand travel requirements for pets (size of crate, if the animal travels as cargo or a carry-on, etc.) and keep your pet’s documentation on hand by attaching a copy to the pet’s collar or crate.
No matter where your travels take you this holiday season, practice health and safety precautions, stay aware of your surroundings in busy areas, and trust your instincts. Most of all, we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.