Take steps to be safe in your summer travels


By Kimberly Schwind - Special to the Inquirer



COLUMBUS — After recent headlines of attacks at popular tourist destinations in the United States and abroad, AAA offers travelers advice to travel safe this summer, regardless of their destination.

When booking a trip, travelers should do their homework. Working with an experienced travel agent can help educate travelers on potential risks in certain destinations.

Regardless of the destination, emergency situations can emerge anywhere. Travelers should always broaden their peripheral vision and stay aware about their personal security and surroundings; especially in crowded areas like airports, shopping malls, train stations and markets. It’s also a good idea to stay in groups and never let your guard down.

“The decision to travel is a very personal one that must be made by the individual,” said Michelle Tucker-Bradford, director of Travel Sales for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “Everyone should stay informed and remain alert when traveling.”

Safety Advice for Traveling Abroad

When selecting an international destination, check the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories for destination information, which sorts travel advisories by level. A level 1 indicates travelers should exercise normal precautions in that destination and a level 4 warns travelers not to travel to that location.

If visiting an area with an active travel advisory, follow the State Department recommendations.

Make sure to have proper documentation (passports, visas, etc.). Make two or three copies. Keep a copy with you, leave a copy at home with friends and hide a copy in your locked luggage. Always keep the actual passport in a safe when you get to your destination.

Enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.

Before you go, know the nearest location of and contact information for the U.S. embassy or consulate, so you can contact them in case of an emergency.

Check with a travel agent about purchasing travel insurance. Make sure to review policies carefully before purchasing.

Preventing Theft and Fraud

Travelers should always take steps to protect their wallets and identities while on vacation. Travel experts offer the following advice:

Contact your bank prior to leaving on vacation. Let them know what dates you will be traveling and where you are going.

Make sure you have the emergency number for your credit card handy, in case the card is lost or stolen.

Use the hotel room safe to keep your valuables.

Invest in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blocking wallets, purses and passport holders. Without them, thieves can use an RFID reader to scan your wallet or purse from up to 30 feet away and steal the information stored on your credit card, driver’s license or passport.

When dining, never set your purse on the ground beside you. Keep it on your knee or secure it to your seat with a bevel clip.

Consider purchasing a slash proof bag that can be carried across the body.

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By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer

Kimberly Schwind is a senior public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club

Kimberly Schwind is a senior public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club