Travel Safety Tips — Stay Happy, Secure, and Street Smart this Christmas season

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For those that are traveling this coming Christmas, these are the tips you need to know. Educate yourselves with advice for ladies, children, senior citizens, and everyone that may need a few reminders for safe travels.

This Christmas, be sure you have all the knowledge you need to be as safe as possible in all your travels, and spread these tips from Sierra Trading Post to all your loved ones:

For Everyone:

1. Research your destination before you reach it. Many different countries, states, and territories have a very different idea of socially acceptable interaction. For instance, smiling at passersby might mean something completely different in other parts of the world, and may even be taken as an invitation to be pursued or followed. Eye contact is considered faux pas in some areas of the world. It is best to do your research to enable you to blend in for safety reasons.

2. Check your insurance options for lost or stolen luggage: The United States Department of Transportation only requires airlines to be liable for losses up to $1250 per passenger for checked bags on domestic flights. Nearly all valuables most likely to be stolen (i.e. stolen camera equipment, jewelry, and cash) are excluded from their liability.

3. Carry-on luggage is not covered by the transportation liability. Travel insurance can be purchased as well as excess valuation coverage, Homeowner’s or renter’s coverage, and Credit card coverage. All airlines only pay the depreciated value of lost items—not the replacement cost.

(Check your replacement policy with your insurance.)

4. Buy hard-sided luggage and a luggage lock for added safety. Soft-sided luggage is an attraction for thieves. Sierra Trading Post also offers many great brands of hard-sided luggage such as Eagle Creek, Victorinox, Pathfinder, Columbia Sportswear, and High Sierra. You can find them all online at http://www.SierraTradingPost.com.

5. Always be aware of your surroundings. Most robberies and other unfortunate encounters occur in bus and train stations, and crowded streets when you least expect it. People who are distracted by using cell phones, fumbling for keys, or have their hands full of shopping bags are big targets for crime. Keep an eye out as you approach your car, train, bus, or other transportation. Have your keys ready to unlock your car or house, and take a good look around the entire parking or boarding area for suspicious activities and people. The majority of traveling victims are those that act unaware of their surroundings. If it’s dark outside, buy a keychain light or a flashlight to help you find your way. (Flashlights and keychain lights are simple solutions to see in the dark. You’ll find some good ones online at http://www.SierraTradingPost.com.)

6. Carry an air of confidence when traveling, even if you are in unfamiliar territory. Take a mental note of your cross streets, but wait to look at maps until you are safe in a restaurant, bathroom stall, or somewhere discrete. Ask trustworthy people for directions, such as police officers, workers in information desks in train and bus stations, or hotel clerks.

7. Security Alerts: Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (http://www.mfat.govt.nz/travel/) for any security issues in any area of the world. Pay attention to the news at all times, especially in a time when such safety threats are so prevalent.

As always, buckle up. Remind your friends and loved ones of the easiest safety precaution they can take. You may save their lives.

For Children:

1. When renting a car, make sure it is child-safe. Do they offer car seats for your children that are under 40 lbs. and less than 40 inches tall? Child-proof windows and doors? Airbags? It is a good idea to pick the car you want to rent ahead of time, especially when leaving the United States. The rate of motor vehicle fatalities in developing countries is as high as fifty times the norm as that found in the United States. Be aware of poor road conditions, poor vehicle maintenance, low drivers’ education and abilities, and high traffic patterns during your travels.

2. Check for hotels that offer supervised play centers, and child-friendly rooms. Do they have covered outlets and tub faucets? Rounded furniture corners? Baby supplies? Parental channel control on their Televisions? Refrigerators for milk, medication, and other baby food?

For Senior Citizens:

1. Be aware that Social Security Medicare does not provide for your medical care outside of the United States.

2. Be aware of vacation scams. Seniors constitute a major share of the travel market. Use good judgment with promotional postcards saying you have won a free trip, and never give out your credit card number unless you are familiar with the company.

For Ladies:

1. When registering, give only necessary information: Provide only your last name and first initial. In your hotel, raise suspicion if switchboard is giving away room numbers, or piling room keys on a desk. Ask if there is a safe available for your valuables.

2. Avoid thievery by hanging the Do Not Disturb sign on the hotel door when you leave. This acts as a deterrent for thieves, and gives the illusion that the room is being occupied. Keep your room key with you at all times, and within easy access in case of an emergency.

3. Robberies happen where least expected: Pack money, credit cards, and valuables in a secure money belt under your clothes...not just in your purse. If carrying cash, spread it out in several places such as inside shoes, very little in your purse, and in your money belt to prevent the loss of all your valuables. Carry only necessary valuables with you.

4. A common thief tactic is to cut purse and money belt straps so they can disappear quickly in the thick of a crowd with your belongings. Purchase money belts with metal linings on the strap so scissors and blades are unsuccessful.

About Sierra Trading Post: Headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Sierra Trading Post operates a trio of retail stores, an online store http://www.SierraTradingPost.com, and eight mail order catalogs with an annual circulation of more than 60 million.

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Amy Bilstein
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