Typically, travel experts consider autumn a slow travel period. It is sandwiched in between the hectic summer travel season and the even crazier holiday vacation period. But, since my child is not in school yet I find the months of September and October to be the ideal time to travel. If you are looking to visit a city filled with family friendly attractions (even if it’s just for the weekend), but don’t want to have to deal with crowds and lines, this is the time of year to do so. But, if you do, don’t be fooled into thinking that fewer visitors translates into fewer opportunities for problems. No matter what time of year you travel you should remain vigilant.
Here are some travel safety tips to consider prior to leaving on your next family vacation:
Make a list of questions to ask the customer service representative prior to leaving the rental car counter. For example, ask which parts of town to stay away from. Staying away from high-crime areas could be the most important safeguard you can take. With a little foresight and a decent map, it’s easy to avoid these areas. Also, by asking the service counter representative you avoid having to make an unnecessary pit stop down the road.
Don’t look like a tourist. Hide the Disneyland bags and travel guides away in the trunk when you’re away from your car. It’s best to leave nothing in sight. Studies show rental cars have been broken into for things as insignificant as jackets and shopping bags. In Hawaii (where I was born and raised), it is a proven fact that rental cars (and tourists) are the number one targets for thieves. Which leads me to my next tip…
Pass up that hot red jeep or convertible (I lived in Hawaii for more than 20 years and to this day I do not know a single local who owns a convertible). Stick to cars that are unobtrusive and blend in.
Forget the car wash. Rather, take a drive down a dusty road, or through a few mud puddles, it will help make your rental look lived in.
Before you leave your hotel ask the front desk clerk for directions to your destination. Don’t be fumbling with your map while your driving or draw attention to yourself in a crowded area mapping out directions.
Know where the emergency exit is in case of fire.
Show your children how to work your hotel room’s phone. While they may know how to dial 911 in case of emergency at home, unless you tell them, they won’t know to dial 9 for an outside line, or to dial 0 for the hotel receptionist.
Finally, if you are traveling with children you should always bring along a recent photo of your child on your vacation. If your child were to get lost on your trip, the first thing a police officer will ask you is if you have an up-to-date picture of your child.