THE BLOG

4 Essential Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling

04/30/2015 05:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015
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As the economy continues to bounce back from the recession, domestic and international travel will continue to increase. In fact, the U.S. Travel Association predicts Americans will take 2.1 billion domestic trips this year - an increase of 1.6 percent.

Adults 50 and over are some of the nation's most frequent travelers and some of their happiest memories are those spent traveling with family. Whether embarking on a multi-week cruise or a quick weekend road trip, it's important to take steps to avoid being victimized. By taking time to prepare before leaving, you can significantly diminish your risk and focus on enjoying your hard-earned trip.

Consider the following tips to protect yourself while you're away from home:

  • Safeguard your belongings. Before you leave, make copies of your travel documents or scan them and email them to yourself - that way your documents won't go missing even if your bags do. Also, keep at least one source of money, such as a credit card, in a place other than your wallet or purse - preferably not on your person. Being without a method of payment when you're hundreds of miles away from home can be a major pain. You might also utilize the hotel safes often offered in rooms to safeguard your belongs left behind.
  • Prepare your home. Unplug all major electronics and turn off the main water supply. Also, have a friend keep an eye on your home, if possible. A security system can also add peace of mind. ADT, for example, has a variety of 24/7 monitoring packages that include smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection. They also offer home automation solutions that allow travelers to adjust their home's lighting remotely and receive security alerts on their mobile devices.
  • Protect your identity. A recent survey on identity theft revealed that 30 percent of travelers have experienced identity theft while traveling or know someone who has. Leave unnecessary items, such as Social Security cards or unneeded credit cards, at home. Also, avoid public Wi-Fi when possible, and make purchases with a credit card instead of a debit card; credit cards often offer better fraud protection. Finally, require passwords for access to your smartphones and tablets, and be wary of putting your personal information in public computers. A variety of identity protection services are available to assist with proactive identity and credit monitoring. TrustedID offers over a dozen identity and credit protection features including on-call protection specialists.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Vacations can take months to save for, but can be ruined in a split second. If you're traveling abroad and get sick or injured, hospital costs could be extreme - even for relatively minor injuries. Travel insurance plans can include valuable medical coverage, trip interruption to protect your investment and more. Another option for consideration is an emergency travel service membership with MedJet Assist. In the event of a medical emergency, domestically or internationally, MedJet members make the call on where they want to go for care and treatment within their home country.