Staying Safe While on the Road
(Some simple tips to avoid crime while you are traveling)
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
When you’re on holidays you want to relax, not worry. But vacation can be a vulnerable
time for travelers. A public opinion survey conducted by American Express showed that 74
percent of people worry about the safety of their personal belongings while traveling. Yet
many fail to take simple precautions to safeguard their money and personal possessions
while on the road.
“Considering safety while away from home is important in protecting yourself and your
family,” says Peter Drutz, head of American Express Vacation Travel in Canada. “Petty
crime is rarely random. Victims are targeted by experienced and well-organized career
criminals. And it is the unsuspecting and unprepared traveler that makes the ideal mark.”
Fortunately most incidents of petty crime are preventable. All it takes is a little preparation.
“By following a few simple steps before you leave and taking precautions while on the
road, you can dramatically reduce your risk of theft,” says Drutz.
To help you get ready for your next trip, here are some useful safety tips:
Carry travelers cheques and credit cards. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Leave copies of serial numbers for passports, travel documents and travelers
cheques at home with someone you trust.
Sign each travelers cheque in the top left corner to protect yourself in case of loss or
Identify a contact point in case of emergencies.
Put your name, address and telephone number inside each piece of checked and
Consider using a business address instead of a home address on your luggage to
avoid letting local burglars know where you live.
At the Airport
Never leave your luggage, briefcase or other items unattended.
Only use porters that are properly uniformed and identified.
Only use authorized, properly identified taxis and buses.
At the Hotel
Keep valuables in the hotel’s safe deposit box.
Do not display the sign that requests room cleaning service. This announces that
your room is unoccupied.
When you go out, consider keeping a television or radio on. This gives the
appearance that the room is occupied.
Avoid repeating your room number in public.
On the Streets
Pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you.
Do not let strangers hear your sightseeing plans or schedules.
Carry only the amount of cash and travelers cheques you need while away from
Be aware of “distraction thefts” by criminals working in twos or threes. One thief
“distracts” the intended victim by bumping into them, asking for assistance, etc.,
while another moves in to commit the crime.
Carry your wallet in your front pocket, or in a money belt or fanny pack. Purses
should be carried close to the body with the latch side facing in.
Never wear expensive-looking jewellery.
Dress casually to avoid attracting attention.
Travel with a detailed map and prominently mark the hotel, embassy and police
If Something Happens
Do not try to resist a robber. What you are carrying is not worth your life or safety.
Report thefts immediately to the police. Have your local contact or the hotel
manager assist you in locating a phone number for the local police department.
Get a copy of the police report. It is helpful for verification with insurance in
replacing stolen cards and travelers cheques.
Report lost or stolen cards and travelers cheques immediately. Issuers can usually
replace them within 24 hours.
DO’s and DON’Ts of International Travel
Before You Leave
Do ensure your passport is valid and you have visas or entry documents for every country
you intend to visit.
Do have travel and medical insurance to deal with emergencies.
Do carry a prescription for all medication – and,
Don’t forget vaccinations or medical declarations you may need for other countries.
Do learn the laws and customs of countries you’ll be in.
Don’t think your Canadian citizenship exempts you from the laws in other countries – it
doesn’t, and you may be imprisoned if you break the law.
Do make sure you have a return airline ticket or enough money (in traveler’s cheques) to
pay for one.
Don’t forget to check laws about taking items out of other countries and importing them
On Your Journey
Do obey the local laws and customs. Some countries may impose heavy fines or penalties,
even the death penalty, for infractions.
Don’t get involved with drugs – even when they may be easily available, drugs are still
Do keep a separate record of your passport details.
Do lock your passport, traveler’s cheques and valuables in a hotel safe or carry them in a
Don’t carry all money and documents together – you will be without identification if you
are robbed or lose them.
Do leave jewellery at home and,
Don’t flash large amounts of currency in public.
Do respect time limits on visas and passports.
Do take sensible safety precautions:
Don’t walk alone after dark, or camp in isolated places, or leave your belongings in a
Do keep luggage locked and watch it closely.
Don’t carry parcels or luggage across borders or through customs for other people, under
Don’t cross borders with a hitchhiker or as a hitchhiker in a vehicle.
Do know the location of the Canadian mission in the countries you visit, and contact them
in the event of an emergency.