The following are pre-trip steps and tips to keep you safe and secure on the road:
Don’t put your travel status on Facebook, Twitter or on your outgoing answering machine if you live alone or the entire family is traveling.
Give your credit card companies and bank that issues your ATM card your travel dates so you will be able to use your cards overseas and so that if charges occurs after you return its easier to prove its fraud so the bank can begin an investigation.
Cancel newspapers/mail delivery for the length of your trip.
If you live in a house, consider getting electronic timers to turn lights on and off and random times.
TSA locks for your luggage – get a couple of extras to take with you. They break, they get cut off, and sometimes they fall behind a 500 lb. dresser where you can’t retrieve them.
Photocopy your passport/ID so that you have a copy to carry around at the destination; not the original. Obviously, drivers should have their real license. It’s also a good idea to scan ID and email it to yourself. Keep it in a file with a bland name, not “passport photocopy” so that you can retrieve it from anywhere in the world.
Luggage tags should have your office address if possible. If you must use your home address, I suggest investing in a tag with a cover, so that every person you pass dragging your bag isn’t aware that the home at 84 Oak Ridge Road is unattended. Your name and address should also be inside the bag. I use a bright blue polka dot luggage tag to differentiate my bag from the others on the carousel.
Plus – in the rare event I check a bag, the name and address of my first hotel will be on a post it note on top of my business card which slides into the luggage tag.
Money belt. I have very mixed feelings about enrolling in the fear of pickpockets lurking around every corner, but I do use it in transit. The more I think about how often my valuables are sitting unattended before/after the metal detector even for a few minutes, the more I realize all my money and credit cards should be more secure. Money belts and “fanny packs” are not the same. The money belt is always worn under the clothing and the object is not to look like you’re carrying a big bulky wad of cash. You never want to access it in public.
Valuables. Don’t carry things that advertise your wealth. The first accessory I bought for my digital SLR was a non-descript strap that doesn’t have CANON DIGITAL EOS in 64 pt type. Yes, the camera is visible, but why have a billboard announcing it’s a new digital camera when the thief could possibly think it’s an older film camera? In the same vein, I wouldn’t carry a laptop bag with a huge Dell or IBM logo – in fact, I’d be more likely to carry it in a bag that doesn’t look like it would have a laptop inside.
Know where you’re staying. Is there a room safe? If not, I would minimize the valuables. If there is no safe, I have a tendency to do 1 of 2 things. Lock my valuables in my suitcase and pray – or carry a Pacsafe. In my experience locking valuables in my bag for years, no hotel employee is going to risk their valuable job slashing open your luggage. But, when I’m traveling with my laptop and SLR and there is room in my bag, I will throw in the Pacsafe. This mesh thing wraps around your bag and affixes to a stationary object in the room. Anyone with a small hand can get into the mesh, so it’s a good idea to padlock any compartments containing small valuables. My fear isn’t the hotel staff, but more that other guests in certain types of places can get into the room.
If you don’t want to carry around a heavy Pacsafe, and only need to secure your laptop, consider a Kensington lock. It’s a heavy duty cable that wraps around a stationary object in the room and locks into to a slot in older laptops. My new MacBook Air has no slot for a lock.