As professional crafters, many of us spend time traveling for business. Personal safety should always be on the traveler’s mind. It’s important to listen to your inner instincts. We all want to be polite and helpful, but when in an unfamiliar place, it may not be practical to be overly friendly with strangers. Don’t forget to pack your common sense when getting ready to hit the road. Here are some tips from Travel and Leisure Magazine and the American Automobile Association.
- Leave a complete itinerary with a family member or trusted friend. Include when you leave, how to reach you in an emergency, and when you’ll be home.
- Get a good night sleep the day before your travel starts. Avoid caffeine, junk food, and alcohol when traveling. Drink plenty of water. Pack any regular medications. Take extra care with yourself to stay healthy and alert.
- Pack only items you absolutely need. If you travel frequently have a toiletries bag that can stay packed and in your suitcase. Coordinate clothes so that only one jacket, skirt, or pants are needed for short trips. Select clothing colors that don’t need special shoes or accessories.
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive, settle in, and get ready for business. If possible, ship large or heavy items to your destination.
- Bring along a magazine, book, portable craft, cassettes, puzzles, and other materials to keep you occupied during travel if you get bored easily.
- Know as much as you can about your destination. Get maps, ask for directions, and ask blunt questions, “Is this area safe?” Pay attention to your surroundings, you can turn a corner in a city and be in the wrong place.
- Observe the people around you. If you notice someone who looks out of place or seems to be watching you, stay alert.
- If attending a convention, trade show, or other event that requires a nametag or badge, remove the badge when outside the activities. Nametags tell the world you’re from out of town and can make you a target of crime.
- The same can be said of walking around with a map or tourist brochures.
- Never leave belongings unattended. This is the easiest target for thieves. Keep your luggage, brief case, laptop computer, and purse close at hand.
- Keep your car maintenance up-to-date. Check tires, belts, and oil before a long trip. Have jumper cables, emergency equipment and a first aid kit in the trunk.
- Always lock car doors whether you ‘re inside or outside your car. When in unknown areas keep windows rolled up. Car-jackers and thefts can easily reach into an open window at stoplights, stop signs, or busy streets where traffic is slow.
- Keep luggage, valuables, boxes, and other items that might be stolen in the truck.
- Avoid isolated gas stations in unfamiliar neighborhoods. At night use stations that are well light. Never wait until the tank is almost empty to get gas.
- If you travel frequently join AAA or another organization to get assistance on the road. It might be a good investment to lease or purchase a cellar or portable phone.
- Get tickets in advance to take advantage of discounts and to avoid an all booked flight. Try to book a seat over the wing or in front of the plane for a quieter flight. Sign up for frequent flyer programs. Arrive at the airport at least 1 hour early.
- Pack carry-on luggage to avoid delays in picking up checked luggage or lost luggage. However, do not over pack a carry on.
- If possible on long flights get out of your seat and walk the aisle.
- Never give out personal information like your destination on a plane; you don’t know who might over hear the information.
At the Hotel
- When checking in to a hotel/motel your room number should never be repeated out loud, if it is ask for a new room. Your room number should be written down by the hotel clerk and handed to you. Don’t display the key in public (by the pool or on a restaurant table) because it is easy for a thief to grab it.
- Don’t leave your hotel door propped open even for a short period of time like to run down the hall to get ice. Always deadbolt and chain the door when inside. Don’t open the door to strangers even if they claim they are from hotel maintenance or housekeeping, call the front desk first. Avoid inviting anyone into your hotel room, isn’t not the place for businesses and meet new business contacts in a public area.
- Don’t assume your hotel door is closing and locking behind you as you enter or exit the room. Make sure it is shut and locked.
- Don’t leave the clean room sign on your door, call housekeeping for room cleaning. The sign is advertising your absence. Leave the TV or radio on low volume when out to make it seem like the room is occupied.
- Park in a well light and fenced parking lot. If leaving at night feel free to ask the hotel for an escort to your car. Use valet parking if accessible. Always ask the hotel for an escort to your room if you feel uncomfortable or don’t want to walk to your room or car alone.
- Take valuables to the front desk for safe keeping in a safety box. Keep suitcases locked in your room. Don’t leave money, jewelry, or other valuables out in the open in your room.
Especially for Women Traveling Alone
- Women make up about 40% of the business traveling population. Women tend to use more hotel services like room service, pay for view movies, and the gift shop because they tend not to go out as much as men at night for safety reasons. Women should always feel free to ask for security when traveling, you’re not asking for “special” services.
- Many hotels have floors designed for women traveling alone; ask when you make your reservation. When you’re making the reservations ask what measures the hotel takes for security.
- Avoid staying on a ground floor or in a room that is exposed to general traffic. If possible ask for a room close to the elevator so you don’t have a long walk to your room.
- It is usually more secure at a smaller hotel than larger ones. A simple rubber doorstop will add security to a hotel door. Pack one and use it from the inside of your room.
- Never hesitate to ask the hotel staff for an escort to your room or parking lot. Ask the staff for directions to destinations rather than asking strangers on the street.
- Avoid flashy jewelry even if it is costume jewelry. Pack shoes that are comfortable and easy to walk or run in. Act like you know where you are going, if you look confused or unsure you are a perfect target for a thief.
On the Home Front
- Have someone who will pick-up your mail, newspapers, and deliveries instead of canceling through the post office or newspaper office. No need to let strangers know you’re out of town. For longer trips consider having a friend house or apartment sit for you.
- Invest in timers for lights within your home. Set them at odd intervals during the evening and night. Leave your heater or air conditioning unit running. Burglars feel the windows to see if the home is too hot or cold for the weather to see if a home is unoccupied.
- If using an answering machine never give your personal name or mention the fact that you are unavailable or out of town until such and such a date. Instead, use a message that indicates you are on another line and will return the call as soon as possible. Let the phone ring as long as possible (2-4 rings) before the machine picks up. Don’t leave the machine is plain view of windows.
- On long trips away from home have a friend move your vehicle occasionally, take out the trash, open a drape or curtain slightly in a front window, or any other activity that would indicate that the home is occupied.