You’ve packed the car, locked the doors, and you’re ready to go. Vacation – the sweetest word of the summer! But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) what can you do to make sure your trip results in happy memories instead of time spent filing a police report, waiting for a new rental car, or explaining your injuries to medical staff? We’ve shared how to keep your home safe while you’re away, but what about steps you and your family can take while you’re on the adventures of your vacation? Experience is a great teacher, so read on and learn about things that you want to avoid to help ensure you have safe travels.
Don’t Flash Your Cash. On a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, we were standing in a group on the Moon Walk with crowds of people around us. We were discussing where to go for lunch when one friend announced in a loud voice, “I have lots of cash.” Oh boy. Might as well carry a neon sign that says Rob Me Now. Be discreet when you’re traveling. If you do bring excess cash, remember to use the safe provided in the hotel room. Leave the expensive watch at home. Don’t take your best jewelry. Dress so your attire doesn’t scream tourist. It’s more fun to pretend you’re a local, so try to blend in.
Badges? We Don’t Need No Badges. Traveling on a tour can be a great way to vacation, especially if you are uncomfortable traveling alone, or you’re going somewhere that a guide will improve your experience, or it will give you access to adventures you can’t take on your own. You’ll almost certainly need to wear a badge of some kind when you are with the group. The minute you leave the group for independent excursions, remove your badge. Why? It’s a giant red flag that says I’m a tourist; I don’t know my way around here, please take advantage of me.
I’m Sure It’s OK To Park Here. My nephew and his wife (who are experienced travelers), decided to park their rental car on the street in a small city in France. They came out of their Airbnb the next morning and – no car. Luckily for them, it wasn’t stolen. When they were parking the night before they neglected to check the street signs. A few hours and many Euros later, they retrieved the car from the police impound lot. Make sure you understand the rules before you leave your car on the street. Check with your Airbnb hosts, your hotel, or local friends. Don’t lose valuable vacation time over a simple mistake.
Street Scammers. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, stay alert. Street scams work because vacationers are distracted and out of their comfort zone. We were walking on Bourbon Street (New Orleans again!) when a woman wearing an ID badge and carrying a clipboard accosted us. She started talking – fast. Did we know we shouldn’t be walking in the street and now we had to pay and for $10 we’d be off the hook and oh by the way here’s a hat for you. 2 of us paid and then the other 2 said – wait a minute, what? That was her cue to take off. It turns out what she was doing was technically legal because she had a vendor license. We didn’t fall for it again, although there were plenty of others who tried their luck.
National Parks Are Safe, Right? Our National Parks are truly vacation wonderlands, but remember that you aren’t in the controlled environment of a theme park. Those bison in Yellowstone are not big friendly cows. There are no fences to keep you from falling off the trail at Grand Canyon. Bears can, and will, destroy your campsite and car if they smell food. Be smart. Go to the visitor center, watch the videos, read the brochures, and talk to the rangers. Every year, people die or are injured in avoidable accidents. In addition, use the same precautions you’d use at home. Keep your valuables locked up and out of sight. Lock your doors. Keep an eye on the kids. And don’t take a selfie on the edge of a cliff.
Ready? Pack your common sense along with the sunscreen, don’t try to pet the grizzlies, and have a great vacation!
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