Vacation safety and security tips

By Ted Parker

San Diego Police Department Neighborhood Policing Resource Team

This article provides tips to help you protect yourself and your property when you're away on vacation.


When Away on Vacation

  • Travel with a friend or in a group when possible. There is safety in numbers.
  • Plan your touring. Don't discuss your plans with strangers. Beware of strangers who seem overly anxious to help you. Select guides carefully.
  • Ask your hotel concierge or desk clerk about dangerous areas and avoid them.
  • When you go out tell the hotel manager when you expect to return and who to call if you're not back by then.
  • Get good directions to avoid getting lost.
  • Carry a card with your hotel's name, address, and phone number.
  • Find an open business to get directions if you get lost. Don't appear to be lost by stopping and looking at addresses or street signs.
  • Stick to well-lighted main streets and public areas.
  • Leave your itinerary with a friend or relative and check in with them periodically.
  • Keep track of time and don't be late for appointments or meetings.
  • Shop with a friend when possible.
  • Don't buy things from people on the street who offer you a great deal, especially if you have to follow them somewhere to get it.
  • Don't fight for your purse if someone tries to take it by force.
  • Before getting into a cab note the cab number and driver's name.

In a Hotel/Motel Room

  • If the desk clerk says your room number aloud when you check in, ask for a different room and have the number written on your keycard sleeve and discreetly handed to you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable walking to your room alone, ask the desk clerk to provide an escort.
  • Determine the most direct route to and from your room, to fire escapes, stairs, elevators, and phones.
  • Keep your door locked when you are in your room. Use both the deadbolt lock and the security bar/chain.
  • Keep your windows locked, and blinds and drapes closed for privacy.
  • Be sure that sliding glass doors and doors to connecting rooms are locked.
  • Safeguard your room key or card at all times.
  • Use the peephole in the door to identify anyone requesting entry. Open the door only if you are certain it is safe to do so.
  • If you are worried about being spied on through the peephole in the door cover it with a piece of opaque tape.
  • If you haven't requested room service or housekeeping and someone knocks on your door claiming to be a staff member, call the front desk to verify the claim before opening the door.
  • If you receive a call about an emergency that requires you to leave your room, hang up and call the front desk to verify it.
  • Report any suspicious persons or activities to the front desk.
  • Don't stay in a ground-floor room, especially if you are a woman and traveling alone.

When Using an ATM

  • Select an ATM that is under video surveillance and has clear lines of sight in all directions, i.e., at locations with no building corners, shrubs, signs, etc. that could provide possible hiding places for an attacker.
  • Be aware of your surroundings before and during your transaction, especially between dusk and dawn. Return later or use an ATM in a store or bank if you notice anything suspicious, e.g., a person loitering nearby.
  • Avoid using poorly lighted or isolated ATMs. Complete your transaction as fast as possible and leave the facility.
  • Don't go alone.
  • Park in a well-lighted area as close to the ATM as possible.
  • Keep your doors locked and passenger and rear windows rolled up when using a drive-through ATM.
  • Put your cash, receipt, and ATM card away promptly. Count your cash later in private. Do not leave your receipt at the ATM site.
  • Avoid being too regular. Don't use the same ATM at the same time of day and day of the week.
  • Make sure you are not being followed when you leave an ATM location. Drive immediately to a police or fire station, or any well-lighted and crowed location or open business and get help if you are being followed. Flash your lights and sound your horn to attract attention.
  • Give up your money or valuables if you are confronted by an armed robber. Any delay can make a robber more nervous and increases the likelihood of violence.


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