You go on vacation to relax and let go of stress. Unfortunately, one brush with a criminal can completely ruin that relaxing mood. That's why you need to be aware of your surroundings and take these simple safety steps.
1. Know the area
Some vacation spots are safer than others, so be sure you are aware of the type of crimes that are more likely to happen where you're headed. That includes knowing the areas you shouldn't visit at night.
2. Don't travel with valuables
Leave your jewelry at home, and anything else a thief might want to grab. Minimize the electronics you take as well, and be sure to prepare them with location-tracking and wiping apps or programs ahead of time. Click here for that and more on getting the most from your gadget while traveling.
3. Watch your money
Pickpockets are common in many parts of the world, and they often target tourists. They are incredibly skilled at pulling wallets out of pockets, and even money belts. After all, that's how they make their living day in and day out. You're better off keeping your cash and cards close to your body in multiple hard-to-reach places. Also, trim down the number of cards you carry.
In rougher areas, you might bring along a decoy wallet with little bit of money that you can hand over in a holdup. Click here for 5 steps to survive a lost or stolen wallet.
4. Know where you're going
Before you leave, plan out the routes you're going to take between your hotel and the sites you want to visit. This helps you avoid wandering into a bad area, and it makes you look less like a tourist, which should attract fewer criminals.
5. Be on alert and travel in a group
The sites may be spectacular, but don't forget to glance around for suspicious people occasionally. You'll also be safer in a larger group than you will on your own. If you are in a group, make sure you have a plan to signal each other if you get lost or something bad happens.
6. Keep a clear head
Criminals are more likely to go after someone they think is vulnerable. So, if you like to have a little alcohol when you travel, put a limit on it so you don't wind up drunk and an easy target. If you're approached out of nowhere by a friendly stranger, you should also watch your drink.
7. Pick a good hotel
Get a hotel in a good area that has strong security. You don't want one where anyone off the street can go wandering around. Don't tell anyone local your room number, and leave your TV on while you're out so it sounds like someone is in.
You also don't want to leave any valuables in your room for room service or a casual thief to take. For security at night, you might want to bring along your own door stop that can keep your door secure even if the intruder has a door key.
8. Be suspicious of everyone
Aside from regular thieves, you might run into con artists. They could try to scam you out of money with a sob story, or overcharge you for something you're buying. One I've heard of is that they'll offer to take a picture of you and your group in front of a site, and then run off as soon as you hand them your camera.
Do you have any other travel tips you'd like to share? Maybe you have a story of a vacation disaster that could have been avoided. Let me know in the comments.