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Family Travel Safety
The Los Angeles Police Department offers the following travel and tourist crime prevention tips. This information is meant to contribute to the personal security of tourists while traveling. You can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware. Following these crime prevention tips can help protect tourists against the occasional pitfalls that can occur, even to the most experienced traveler.
Before you leave
Preventing crime during family travel starts with making sure your home is protected while you're away (find out more about securing your home and property). The key is to make it look like you never left:
Keep shades and blinds in their normal positions.
Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a neighbor to pick them up every day.
Put several household lights on timers so they turn on and off at appropriate times.
Arrange to have grass mowed (or snow shoveled) while you're gone.
Make sure all your door and window locks are in working order - and use them.
Activate your home alarm (if you have one).
You might even leave a radio on - or put it on a timer. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway overnight - anything that might suggest someone's home. And don't forget to lock all doors and windows when you leave.
Packing your bags
Preparing for a family trip requires a lot of planning. You need to decide where you're going, where you'll stay, and how you'll get from one place to another. You also need to decide what to take with you. Planning can decrease the chances of crime joining you on your journey. Some tips on what to take:
Clean out your wallet or purse before you go; take only essential credit cards. Plan to use credit cards or traveler's checks instead of cash whenever possible.
Carry your purse close to your body, or wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, take a "fanny pack" or wear a money pouch under your clothes.
Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to getting robbed.
Expensive, designer luggage can draw unneeded attention to your belongings. Pack your things in inconspicuous bags.
Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage.
And keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.
If you are going on an extended vacation, consider shipping large bags to your destination in advance. For the return trip, mail bulky new purchases home, or ask merchants to do it for you.
Out and About
Your home is secured and you're packed. Now it's time to go. While you and your family are traveling, it's important to remember that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Often lost or distracted, weighed down with bags, and carrying cameras, plane tickets, money, and other valuables, unsuspecting travelers can attract crime like a magnet.
The best advice for you and your family is to do all you can to blend in with the crowd.
Don't display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets at all times - no shortcuts.
Always lock your car when it's parked, even if the stop is brief. Keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk. Don't advertise that you're a tourist by leaving maps and guidebooks on the seat or dashboard - keep them in the glove compartment.
Find out more about protecting yourself from auto theft and carjacking.
Traveling safely with your family also means sticking together and keeping an eye on your children at all times. Make sure they know where you're staying (name and address), and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated. You might want to agree on a meeting place, just in case. And by all means, make sure your kids know not to accept rides or favors from strangers.
Make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons.