Safe Travels

young family at airport with a trolley full of luggageWhere’s your dream destination? Soft, warm sand meeting the waves, not a cloud in the sky? Majestic, snow-capped peaks rising up to the heavens? Or maybe a warm fireplace, surrounded by family and friends?

Many people use the summer time to get out of town. But nothing ruins a vacation like an unexpected mishap. Traveling is, by definition, a break from the ordinary routine. It’s a journey into unfamiliar territory. Any break from the comfort zone is a ripe time for complications.

Take a few minutes to prepare yourself, though, and you’ll be able to safely enjoy your travels.
Before You Leave

The best way to stay safe is to fix problems before they ever occur. Before you roll out the driveway, be sure you’re thoroughly prepared for your trip.

1. Weather — Check the climate and forecast before leaving. Have you packed the appropriate clothes and layers for the trip?

2. Travel Alerts — Check online travel alerts for your destination. Some places in the world become dangerous, and you should know the cultural climate before you arrive (note: this applies more for international trips than domestic) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html.

3. Health Concerns — Visit a travel clinic before any international trips. You may need certain vaccinations before boarding the plane. Or there may be general concerns such as food poisoning.

4. Credit Card — Before leaving the country, call your credit card provider and set up a travel alert. This will allow you to use your card without setting off red flags. Even if you aren’t expecting to use the card, you never know when you’ll need it.

5. Itinerary — Whether traveling internationally or domestically, give a trusted friend or family member your itinerary. Let them know when you’re traveling, where to, and what day you expect to return. 6. Home Safety — Ask a trusted friend to watch after your house and keep it safe.
In Transit

The act of traveling provides its own unique risks. Take a few easy steps and ensure you arrive to your destination in one piece.

1. Stretch Often — Whether traveling by car or plane, it’s dangerous to stay sitting for too long. Take frequent opportunities, when the airplane’s seatbelt light is off or when filling up your car’s gas tank, to stand up and stretch. Walk around, get your blood flowing again.

2. Stay Hydrated — Traveling, exhausting as it is, doesn’t expend much energy. Mostly, you just sit there. Thanks to this, it’s easy to avoid drinking water — you almost forget about it. But you can still get dehydrated. If you change altitude (driving into the mountains or boarding an airplane) this happens even quicker. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It may mean more frequent restroom breaks, but that just means you get up and stretch!

3. Keep Essentials On Hand — If you travel with any essential or valuable items (for example, prescription medicines) keep those within easy-access. This means checked baggage if you’re flying or glove compartment if you’re driving. You never want to spend time tracking down an item you need in the moment.

4. Maintain Vehicle — Remember to tune up your vehicle before driving it across the country. Take it in to a trusted mechanic and find out if anything needs fixing to make it roadworthy. If your auto insurance has roadside assistance, make sure you have the phone number handy.
While You’re There

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, practice a few simple principles to avoid unnecessary risk or hazard.

1. Communication Plan — Before you leave, create a communication plan. When will you let friends back home know you’ve arrived at your destination? If traveling internationally, do you know how you’ll communicate? Does your cell phone plan work, or will you use FaceTime or email?

2. Documents — While at your destination, keep important documents with you, and copies in a safe place. Necessary documents vary depending on destination, but may include passport, drivers license, and emergency phone numbers.

3. Don’t be a Target — Most tourists stand out in a crowd — large camera, loud clothes, wandering aimlessly and looking at a map. In other words, they’re easy targets for pickpockets. If you want to stay safe, sometimes the best method is to look safe. Walk confidently and blend into the crowd.

4. Travel Insurance — The best thing you can do to protect your trip is insure it. The right travel insurance can pay your medical bills for travel-related accidents, reimburse you for cancelled flights, and protect your car insurance rates if something happens to your rental. Some credit cards come with travel insurance, but check your coverage — it may not cover everything you want it to. Purchase your own travel insurance policy to be sure you’re fully covered.

Though traveling comes with its own risks, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Take the time to properly prepare, and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation safe and sound!

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