Five tips to stay safe while on vacation

Criminal justice professor Jeff Walker, Ph.D., shares tips to keep yourself and your personal property safe while you are traveling this summer.

Written by: Tiffany Westry

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safe vacationMillions of Americans are expected to hit the roads and take to the skies for summer vacation. According to AAA, nearly 47 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

Jeff Walker, Ph.D., criminal justice professor and chair in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, shares some tips to keep yourself and your personal property safe while you are traveling this summer.

Stay in the best hotel you can.

“This does not mean that everyone has to stay in a five-star hotel,” Walker said. “Find a hotel that works for your budget; but be sure to read the hotel reviews, and pull up a map to check out the surrounding area.”

Work with reputable sites when booking rental properties.

Ask friends and family about their experiences with rental property websites. Follow the same guidelines as if you were booking a hotel, read the reviews, and look up the property address on a map to check out the surrounding area.

“Pay attention to exactly what you are booking,” Walker said. “Properties on popular rental websites range from an entire home or apartment to only a room inside a home or apartment.”

Take measures to secure your home.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, rates of household burglary tend to be higher during the months of June, July and August — peak summer vacation season.

“Burglary is often a crime of opportunity,” Walker said. “Tell a neighbor about your travel plans and ask them to help keep an eye on things while you’re away. You can also call your local police department to put in a vacation notice, and they will drive by your home periodically while you are away. Most importantly, don’t broadcast your plans on social media.”

If you have automated home lighting, make sure lights are not scheduled to turn on and off at the same time each day. Vary the times they are scheduled. Lock all doors and windows, and do not forget about the garage and any doors leading to it. Do not leave garbage cans on the curb, and if you receive newspaper deliveries, have your subscriptions held until you return.

Don’t leave valuables out in the open.

Walker recommends using a hotel safe if there is one available. If not, keep valuables with you whenever you are out of the room. Keep cash and credit cards in separate places so you will have something to fall back on if your wallet is lost or stolen.

If you are traveling by car or leaving a car parked at home or at the airport, lock the doors and make sure there are no valuables lying around in plain sight in the vehicle.

Pay attention to your surroundings.

Pay attention to what is going on around you. It is also a good idea to let friends and family at home know your itinerary.