13 Holiday Safety Travel Tips
The busiest travel times of the year occur during major holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving. While travel during the holidays can be equally exciting and stressful, it's also important that you take steps to remain safe during the busiest travel days of the year.
Check Car Maintenance for Road Trips
If you're driving to your destination, ensure that your car is in good condition and road worthy. Change your oil and check the tires and wiper blades. Winterize the car with antifreeze. Make sure you have a viable a spare tire and a jack. If you are unfamiliar with changing a flat, have the car owner's manual handy for reference.
When traveling in the winter months, be sure you have traction tires or available chains and become familiar with how to attach the chains before you travel.
Watch Weather Conditions
Whether by air or car, weather conditions can affect travel significantly during the holidays. Track weather updates using a weather app such as Dark Sky or Weather Online Now. If bad weather does strike, allow extra drive time and slow down. Check the upcoming weather at all points along your destination.
For air travel, check for alternate flight availability in case of airport closures or delays.
Leave Contact Information
Let neighbors and family know that you will be away. That way they can watch your home for suspicious activity. Give them a contact telephone number and itinerary so they will know how to reach you in an emergency.
Don't Advertise an Empty House
Burglars look for empty homes; don't advertise yours as one. Put mail and newspaper delivery on vacation. Put lights on a timer or use home automation to set your lights to come on and go off at various times. Keep a radio playing to imply someone is home. If possible, also hire a house sitter to spend some time in the house so it looks occupied.
Secure Your Home
Frequent travelers have plenty of options in home security to keep their house monitored, safe, and secure when they travel during the holidays or during any other time throughout the year. Consider security devices you can monitor from anywhere, such the Ring doorbell or closed circuit TV cameras. You can also install a monitored home security system.
Whenever traveling through airports or unfamiliar locations, stay alert to avoid pickpockets and petty thieves. Keep personal items nearby at all times. Use a money belt to secure your cash. Keep the purse flap on the inside, next to your body. Don't look like a potential target.
Keep the Cell Phone Charged
Cell phones are great in an emergency, as long as they are charged. Have it fully charged before leaving. If driving, purchase a car charger or charging bricks to keep it at full power. If you have to use the cell phone, be sure and pull over or have a passenger make the call.
Travel With a Car or Booster Seat
When traveling with children, take their booster seat with you both for on the plane and for ground transportation at your destination. This will ensure your children are restrained safely in any vehicle.
Keep Your Kids Safe
If you have very young children and are traveling to someone else's home, realize their house may not be childproofed to the standard yours is. Likewise, most transportation options are designed to accommodate adults and not made for children.
- Keep an eye out for potential hazards and keep an eye on your children at all times.
- During road trips, make sure you've planned for every eventuality. Pack warm clothing for kids in case you get stuck somewhere and have lots of snacks available.
- Avoid traveling on airplanes with your child as a lap child. Buy them a seat and keep them appropriately restrained throughout the flight.
- In airports and train stations, always send kids with an adult; don't allow them to go to a shop or the bathroom by themselves.
Protect Against Identity Theft
Identity thieves are everywhere, particularly around the holidays when people tend to be more careless with personal information and credit cards. Take the following steps against identity theft during your holiday travels:
- Only take documents you need such as driver's license, passport, and credit cards. Leave checkbooks and social security cards at home.
- When getting cash, only use your bank ATMs to prevent credit card skimming.
- Keep credit and bank cards in sleeves that protect from identity theft.
- Keep technology with passwords and other information in your possession; don't put them in checked baggage.
Use a GPS
Make sure you have GPS available during your trip. GPS can help you find alternate routes and direct you to where you need to go without getting lost. GPS apps such as Waze will even alert you to real-time traffic hazards and direct you around them.
Keep Food Safe
If you're taking a dish to share during your holiday gathering, keep it safe.
- Travel with refrigerated foods in an insulated cooler with ice packs.
- Cover foods with plastic or store them in tupperware or zipper bags.
- Refrigerate perishable food as soon as you arrive at your destination.
- If you are traveling a long distance, consider purchasing the food when you arrive and making it at your destination.
- For mayonnaise based salads, keep the mayo in a sealed, unopened jar and add it when you arrive.
Keep Holiday Gifts Safe
Traveling with holiday gifts - particularly if you fly or take the train - can be tricky, especially given current baggage requirements for domestic airlines. To keep your gifts safe, consider the following:
- Don't wrap gifts until you arrive; purchase gift wrap and tape at your destination. Since TSA may need to unwrap gifts, it's best to wait until you've arrived to wrap them.
- Pack gifts in a hard-sided suitcase with a TSA-approved lock.
- Carry valuable gifts in your carry-on.
- Cushion breakable gifts with bubble wrap or other soft materials.
- Consider purchasing gifts online and having them delivered to your destination.
Stay mindful of these holiday safety travel tips on your next trip. You can stay safe and have a wonderful time when you plan a trip to visit your next must see destination.