School will soon be out again – are you ready to hit the road?
Do you want to combine vacation and business travel? Great! With smartphones, tablets and apps, it’s easier than ever not to miss a beat.
In your enthusiasm, don’t forget all the vacation horror stories.
There are the rental car fiascos, motel thefts, food poisonings, lost or sick kids, flight delays, and on and on.
A little advance preparation can avoid a lot of hassle.
What’s in your wallet? Do you really know?
- Photocopy both sides of everything in your wallet. Make sure phone numbers are clear so you can alert a credit card provider if your card is 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 or pictures on social media – and make sure others (family members) don’t either. (You can always share pictures once you get back.)
- Consider sharing your location with trusted loved ones via Smartphone or checking in before and after you head to new locations.
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?
- Better yet, write down a few phone numbers, so you can get ahold of others in the event of a lost phone.
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 a visor button!
- Re-program your home to some other address, like the local police station.
- Remove all other documents with your address from your car.
Are you going abroad? Some exotic locations can experience local political problems.
- Check www.travel.state.gov for alerts and warnings with lots of details about where you’re headed. Click on the international travel tab, then view all travel advisoriesfor 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: from the 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 assistance and insurance options as well (try a Google search).
- Consider special insurance coverage for valuables, baggage, etc.
- Check with your 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 assistance, depending on where you are going.
Protect yourself on the road.
- 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 information, including passwords, on a USB drive, for example, and not active while using public Wi-Fi.
- Newer credit cards (and passports) have RFID chips that can be tracked and hacked for your personal information. This can be done by someone with a simple scanner in a briefcase that comes close to your wallet or purse in a public place.
- Consider a special shield bag, wallet, or passport pocket to prevent tracking and theft.
Do you have any tips to add? Share your experience on the blog.