Here’s how to stay safe on vacation, whether you’re taking a road trip, heading to the beach or jetting off to a foreign country.
Choose lodgings carefully
You don’t want to start your vacation with a sense of dread as your Uber pulls up to a sketchy vacation rental on a dark street. Read plenty of traveler reviews, talk to locals and use Google Street View to check out an area before booking. Choose accommodations in a centrally located, safe and well-lit area. If you stay in a hotel, request a room that’s not on the ground floor or the very top floor. Staying on a middle floor helps deter thieves but also allows for firefighter access and easier escape in an emergency.
Plan ahead if you intend to carry protection
A TASER device can help keep you safe on vacation in a worst-case scenario, though ideally you won’t have to use yours. You may pack a TASER device in checked luggage as long as its power source is disabled, but not in carry-on bags, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If you plan to take your TASER device on a plane, make sure to follow TSA rules and verify your airline’s policy before you pack.
Check state and local TASER laws.
TASER devices are legal in all U.S. states except Rhode Island, but it’s a good idea to check specific state requirements for ownership and possession before you go. For example, Illinois law requires you to have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) to own or carry a stun gun or TASER device in that state. And California law restricts stun gun ownership and use to people of legal age with no assault or felony convictions or narcotics addiction. Laws also vary by country outside the United States, so check the rules for your destination country when traveling internationally.
Try to blend in at your destination.
Leave your pricy watch, flashy rings and expensive electronics at home to avoid drawing unwanted attention from criminals who target travelers. Research local culture and clothing and so you can avoid standing out as a tourist. Plan to carry your phone safely out of sight, and duck into a cafe, restaurant or store if you need to look up the hours of a tourist attraction or the route to your destination. Before you travel, protect your phone with a strong password — and turn on the “find my phone” feature just in case.
Maximize safety in your hotel room or vacation rental.
Make a safety plan when you arrive at your destination. Check to make sure your hotel room or vacation rental door lock is secure, and plan to keep the doors locked whenever you’re inside. In a hotel, scout out the nearest emergency exits after you arrive. Hang the Do Not Disturb sign on your door, and never open the door to a stranger.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
Situational awareness is key to avoiding dangerous situations. Scan new environments and make note of objects, people and exits. Watch for odd behavior or anything that makes you uncomfortable. Don’t accept refreshments from strangers or leave your food or drink unattended as criminals may use drink spiking to incapacitate and rob a tourist. Basically, the key is to stay relaxed but alert at all times.
Prepare for dangerous situations.
Keep in mind that conflicts and crime are on the rise, from assaults on airplanes to violence on subways. That’s why it’s important to think through possible dangers ahead of time and make a plan. Learn how to de-escalate a situation and make a quit exit in case you happen into an unexpected conflict.
Carrying your TASER device with you, and making sure you know how to use it properly, can offer an extra layer of protection in a worst-case scenario. Before you go, consider getting training from a qualified TASER trainer so you’ll be prepared to defend yourself if necessary.
These seven tips can help keep you safe on vacation. The best part: taking time to think about travel safety now will help you to relax and enjoy your trip.