You are here because you probably have a vacation coming up, and you want to know how to properly protect yourself when traveling. Although travel can be fun and stress-free, there are times when the unforeseen can happen like a lost or stolen passport, stolen wallet or even a natural disaster. However, when you take the proper precautions prior to and during your travels you can help minimize the potential for these things to affect you, and if they do happen you are at least prepared to appropriately handle the situation.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
STEP is a FREE service to allow U.S. citizens/nationals traveling abroad to enroll with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Enrolling in STEP will enable the U.S. Department of State to send you email updates about travel warnings specific to your itinerary and any applicable information relating to incidents, such as floods, earthquakes, social unrest, etc. In low-risk areas, it may not be that big of a deal; however, if you are traveling to high-risk areas (check here) we highly suggest enrolling. Additionally, if you lose your passport while abroad, STEP can expedite its recovery since your passport and identification information is securely stored once enrolled.
Protect yourself when traveling by enrolling in STEP here: https://step.state.gov/step/
Place Mail and Packages on Hold
When traveling, especially for long periods of time, one of the biggest indicators of no one being home is mail piling up at your front door and spilling out of your mailbox, which can be a gift to thieves. Knowing that we always stop our mail and package deliveries.
The United States Post office offers mail hold services from 3 to 30 days in a row. You can select how you would like to receive your mail on your selected end date. For hold times greater than 30 days, please sign up for USPS Forward Mail Service.
Stop USPS mail delivery here: https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
If you receive package deliveries from UPS and FedEx, make sure you put in a vacation hold with each of them as well. Since I am enrolled in UPS My Choice®, I am able to redirect my packages to my local UPS store for free.
Notify Your Home Security Company
If you have an alarm system installed it is best to notify your alarm company that you will be away and give them your exact dates of your travel. The alarm company will know to immediately send authorities should your home alarm system get activated due to an intrusion. You should also update your list of emergency contacts in your security account just in case your alarm goes off while you are on vacation so that person can respond to the emergency on your behalf.
Share the Details of Your Trip with Someone You Trust
I just want to Thank God for great neighbors. We are privileged to live in a community with pretty awesome neighbors. We all look out for each other. One time while we were out of the country, our alarm had gone off and my neighbors cased the perimeter of our house with a cutlass and a bat. Thankfully, there was no burglary attempt, our alarm was having issues, which we’ve since fixed. That said, make sure you let someone you trust know that you are traveling who can check-in on your home in your absence.
Notify your bank(s)
Another way to protect yourself while traveling is to notify your bank(s). The last thing you want to do is to get stuck in an unknown place, especially if you are abroad, without money. Also, you should bring with you more than one credit card just in case one gets flagged for suspicious usage. When we travel, I always bring my Chase Sapphire Preferred® card because it offers travel protection like free trip cancellation and interruption insurance that can reimburse you if your trip gets canceled or you get stranded in your destination through no fault of your own.
Check out this post on Social Media Safety Tips for Travel.