Security Concerns Impact Vacation Choices

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Concerned travelers adopt Â?live like localsÂ? philosophy and embrace vacation alternatives such as home exchange. Digsville Home Exchange (http://www.digsville.com) offers travelers common sense tips to achieving peace of mind while traveling.

High-rise hotels. Cross-country travel. Historic landmarks. Cultural and family attractions. This is the American dream vacation - or was before our world changed in September 2001.

International instability has made many vacationers wary of public locations and traditional vacation icons. And while the World Tourism Organization recently reported that travel confidence is finally on the rebound, fear still plays a major role when making travel choices. Fear can be seen in the way travel companies respond to security-related concerns. Orbitz online travel service, for example, has introduced “Care Alerts”, which use wireless technology to communicate security alerts. Savvy individuals worldwide are taking simpler alternative steps to alleviate stress surrounding safety and security issues and produce an enjoyable vacation.

VACATION “AT HOME”: Everyone associates “home” with safety and security, knowing that terrorists tend to target high-profile, public and tourist locations. A growing number of independent travelers are solving this dilemma by “home swapping” using a service such as Digsville Home Exchange Club (http://www.digsville.com). Home exchange allows you to “stay at home” – someone else’s home – providing a sense of security that your vacation base is a non-tourist location. "Peace of mind is a valuable commodity for Americans traveling to major US cities and abroad," says Helen Bergstein, founder and CEO of Digsville. "When you're an invited guest in any locale, your vacation just got a whole lot better."

BE PREPARED: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website, http://www.ready.gov, reminds us that disaster preparedness is no longer the sole concern of those living in earthquake prone California or "Tornado Alley." Families create a disaster plan for home, but rarely create a similar plan when traveling. Prepare like a local for a possible emergency and alleviate an enormous stress factor. Educate yourself on emergency services, review evacuation routes, and be certain all family members are aware of a pre-determined meeting place in the event you are separated.

BE AWARE: “There are 50 ways to leave your lover; but only 6 ways to leave this airplane” a stewardess quipped on a flight traveled by Alfonso Martinez-Fonts Jr., Department of Homeland Security. Despite his professional focus on safety and security, this comment caught Martinez-Fonts’ attention, reminding him to pay attention to the plane’s exit strategy. Travelers should maintain diligent awareness of their surroundings, no matter how familiar the route or location.

ASK QUESTIONS: Many tourist hot spots are fully prepared for emergency situations, but hesitate to mention security issues for fear that linking their name with “terrorist threat” will drive away business. Asking questions about a location’s preparedness can put a mind at ease.

RELAX: Take steps to ensure your safety and security, then relax and enjoy your vacation!

Helen Bergstein is a reputed expert on the subjects of hospitality and home exchange, an exploding niche in the travel industry. Major media outlets worldwide turn to Helen for information on the latest trends and the new face of travel in the 21st century. Helen is Founder and CEO of the Digsville Home and Hospitality Exchange Club (http://www.digsville.com), the world’s premiere home exchange service. Dubbed “the eBay of home exchange” by Travel + Leisure magazine, Digsville has transformed the exclusive home exchange community into a major travel trend with thousands of home listings in more than 53 countries.

For more information about this topic, Helen B’s 10 Tips for a Successful Home Exchange, or to schedule an interview with Helen Bergstein, please call (201) 659-5934 or e-mail Helen at HelenB@digsville.com.

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