School will soon be out – are you ready to hit the road? Do you want to combine some vacation with business? Great! With smartphones, tablets and apps, it’s easier than ever not to miss a beat.

What could go wrong? ~

Of course, you’ve heard the vacation horror stories. There are the rental car fiascos, motel thefts, food poisonings, lost kids, and on and on.

Before you leave ~ A little preparation can avoid a lot of hassle.

  • What’s in your wallet? Do you really know?

Last holiday season, Southwest Airlines gave a bottle of champagne to the person with the most credit cards on a flight I was on. The winner had 19!

  • Photocopy both sides of everything in your wallet and make sure phone numbers are clear so you can alert a credit card provider if it’s lost or stolen. Leave a copy with a friend or relative.
  • Who knows where you’re going? Who should know?
    • Itineraries are important – and updates about side trips, too. Remember those folks whose cars got stuck in inaccessible places and no one knew where they were?
    • Let the right people know your checkpoints and contact information.
    • Do not “post” your plans on social media and make sure others don’t either.
  • What are you leaving behind?
    • Can a neighbor or friend check on your residence?
    • Do they need emergency numbers or a temporary alarm code to handle a potential problem?
  • Are you leaving a car at the airport? It’s a dead give-away especially with a GPS.
    • It’s too easy for a thief to steal your car, push “home” on the GPS and then open your garage door with the visor button!
    • Re-program your “home” to some other address, like a local police station.
    • Remove other documents with your address.
  • Are you going abroad? Some exotic locations can experience local political problems.
    • Go to for Alerts and Warnings with lots of details. Click on “See All Alerts and Warnings” for a complete and current list.
    • Consider enrolling in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) on the website to have better access to assistance if needed.
    • 24 Hour Consular Emergency Line: U.S. 1.888.407.4747 / Outside the U.S. 1.202.501.4444
  • Do you have insurance? Making sure you’ve got the right protection is prudent.
    • Medical, of course, is number one. Get your provider’s rules, forms and contact information so you’re ready. Take doctors’ prescriptions to “prove” to customs officers your drugs are legitimate. There are many special foreign travel insurance options as well (try a Google search).
    • Consider special coverage for valuables, baggage, etc.
    • Check with auto insurers about their overseas coverage – in certain places (particularly Mexico and Italy) you must buy local coverage.
    • Consider kidnap and ransom coverage, including evacuation and repatriation coverage, depending on where you are going.

During the trip ~

  • Rental cars can be a target for local thieves in tourist locations. Parked at the beach with all your suitcases inside, they are a goldmine!
  • Laptops and phones with sensitive information are always at risk – especially in unknown Wi-Fi spots.
    • Keep sensitive personal and business information, including passwords, on a USB drive, for example, and not active while using public Wi-Fi.
  • Many newer credit cards (and passports) have RFID chips that can be tracked – and even hacked for your personal information. This can even be done by someone with a simple scanner in a briefcase that comes close to your wallet or purse.
    • Consider a special shield bag, wallet or passport pocket to prevent tracking and theft.

Do you have any tips to add? Share your experience.

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