Summer is less than a week away and like many families, we are starting to plan our upcoming trips. It is easy to get caught up in searching for a campsite, or scanning maps for the perfect route or even just scrolling through Instagram for inspiration and overlook an important part of the plan. Luckily we have Andy Murphy from The Secure Dad to share some tips to help you prepare for a safe journey.
Summer is a great time to see the country or someone else’s country. Take your kids to the places they can only see in YouTube videos. Seize this precious time with your family. Go to Disney, drive to the Grand Canyon or fly off exotic Ontario. Well, Ontario might not be “exotic” per se, but at least it’s clean. But before you whisk your family off to the Magic Kingdom, make sure your kingdom is in order.
Here are a few tips from The Secure Dad to keep your family safe on the road, and keep your home secure while you are gone.
This year when I went to Disney I took The High-Speed Daddy Tactical Diaper Bag. I filled it with everything my family needed to enjoy our time in the parks. Make sure when you travel that you have an Essentials Pack that holds valuable things like tickets, medicine, and snacks. This way you don’t have to stop and buy much and everything is with you in one place.
Generally, I suggest packing:
- Pocket Knife
- Paracord Bracelet with a compass
- Cash, Coins
- Baby wipes
- Stuffable rain jacket
- Change of clothes
- Clips, Fasteners and zip ties
- Medicine in zippy bags
- Phone charger
- Power bank
- First aid box (Yea, a box)
- Water bottles
- Adult and child hats
- Sunscreen (small and large)
- Hand sanitizer
Don’t Wear Expensive Stuff
Once on a cruise, I was told multiple times to make sure that I do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry when we visited Jamaica. If you’ve been to Jamaica, then you’ve probably gotten the same advice. I hate to say that about a beautiful culture and gorgeous place, but the advice remains.
While traveling anywhere you don’t know the terrain or the customs, it’s best not to stand out too much. Yes, there are some places Americans can’t help but stand out, but don’t draw extra attention to yourself with shiny watches, big diamond rings, and expensive sunglasses. Thieves who work tourist areas know to look for high-value targets. Don’t make yourself the high-value target by wearing old shirts, cheap shoes and a watch you bought at Walgreen’s. The sites will still look amazing through your old sunglasses.
This is a complex subject that boils down to this: know what is going on around you. When traveling to new places you might be naive to think that everything is new and different so you should just accept everything that is going on around you. Not true. From all corners of the globe, humans have the same characteristics before they commit a crime. Don’t leave your intuition in your suitcase. Make sure to notice who looks apprehensive in a calm place. Who is wearing a big jacket on a warm day? And make sure to notice who is noticing you.
When moving in and out of new places make sure you know where you are going and where you have been. This will come in handy if you get lost or if you are forced to cut your activities short due to inclement weather or someone paying too much attention to your family. When eating in new restaurants, note the exits and kitchen entrances. You may have to run there in the event of a fire.
The Home Front
Smartphones and Smart Choices
When going on a vacation of course you’ll want to take photos and videos. Thanks to social media and the smartphone you can share all of this media as they happen. This is where you must be smart with your smartphone. If you go on a cruise, don’t go Live on Facebook as your ship departs the dock. Why? Because now everyone knows, in real time, that your house is empty. Wait and post your vacation photos when you come home.
Homes that are dark at 8 pm look out of place in a typical neighborhood. Most people are home at that time and turning lights on and off. If you turn all of your lights off before departing on your trip, your house will stand out to a burglar. Thanks to wi-fi enabled devices it’s easy to make your home look occupied while you are gone. Smart outlets connect to your phone via apps like WeMo. From here you can customize lighting timers or turn them off randomly for fun. Either way, your home will look occupied and a bad guy is likely to dismiss your home as an easy target.
While you don’t want many people knowing that you’re traveling out of town, it is good to let your local law enforcement know. Police departments do property checks routinely. All you need to do is call them a few days before you leave and answer some questions. They should ask you simple things like how to get in touch with you, if anyone is supposed to be in the house and if there will ever be a car parked out front. I’ve done this several times and have rested easy knowing that my local law enforcement was looking out for my home.
Go out and enjoy your summer travel plans! Hit the road with your family and have a great time. If you follow these tips, you’re sure to be safer and enjoy yourself a lot more.
Andy Murphy’s blog, www.thesecuredad.com is dedicated to family safety, home security and of course fatherhood. Visit weekly for tips on keeping yourself, and your family, safe.