Editor’s Note: Jim Doyle, of Madison Security Group on Highway 31, provided us with these personal security tips for managing money, passports, luggage and credit cards when traveling. Please remember that you must now have a passport to cross all international borders, including those of Canada and Mexico. Bon Voyage!
1. Put your name and telephone number inside and outside of each bag. Keep a written
inventory of each bag’s contents in your purse or backpack.
2. Whenever possible, ask for a hotel room on the 3rd through 7th floor—higher than thieves
can access from the street, and lower than fire rescue limits.
3. Photocopy your passport before traveling home. Put a copy inside each bag and give a copy to a close friend or relative to keep for you.
4. Make a note of the credit limit open on your credit card. Do NOT charge over that amount on your trip. (In some foreign countries, Americans have been arrested for innocently exceeding their limit.) Also, the 800# listed on your credit card will not work from outside the US, so be sure to obtain the proper foreign access number before leaving home. Make sure you call your credit card company BEFORE you go abroad and let them know the countries where you’ll be traveling. That way they’ll know your card is not racking up a lot of unauthorized charges, and you won’t find yourself dealing with a card that is being denied legitimate use because they froze it in order to protect you.
5. Check whether your health insurance carrier covers you abroad. Consider purchasing short-term health/emergency assistance/medical evacuation assistance policies now offered for travelers. NOTE: Medicare and Medicaid do NOT provide payment for travel outside the USA.
6. Check your hotel room’s exterior door lock prior to check in (and daily thereafter,) for signs of wear or pry marks. If you question the condition of the lock, request a move to another room or change hotels.
7. Do not house keys under a doormat, exterior planter or in any easily accessible location outside your home. Give an extra key to a trustworthy friend, neighbor or relative.
8. Prevent vehicle break-ins. Always store your laptop, GPS, cell phone, I-pod, camera, video game, shopping bags, etc. out of sight. Add some insurance by using a permanent marker or Dremel etching tool to record a secure phone number on your portable electronic items.
9. Keep a copy of all your credit cards which you’ll be using on your trip separate from your wallet, as well as the 800#s to call to report if they have been lost or stolen. If either your wallet or the list of numbers goes missing, call the customer service number immediately to cancel the card. Only carry the card or cards on your person that you will actually be using, and leave the rest at home in a secure location.
10. Use travelers’ checks as much as possible. They can be replaced. Do not carry a lot of cash, and be very discreet when opening your wallet. Do not flash around either a lot of money or traveler’s checks. Don’t give a would be thief any reason to target you.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group