With vacation time upon us, the need for a personal security plan is even more critical.  Traveling away from home can easily put you outside of your comfort zone. You may not be very familiar with the areas that you are passing through or visiting, and you don’t have the contacts and support group that you may rely on back home.  Here are some ideas that will get you started on making your own vacation security plan and helping ensure an enjoyable vacation.

One of the first things to do is to make a detailed itinerary of your planned trip.  Some people do this with social media, but that can be a two edged sword letting the wrong people know you’re gone and for how long.  Be sure to list the places that you will stay and the approximate times of arrival at each one.  Share this information with a friend or family member back home and arrange periodic times to check in with each other.  In this day of smart phones, this should not be a problem.  You should also agree on what action the friend or family member will take should you fail to make a scheduled contact.

If you are traveling by car, sign up with one of the auto clubs that can arrange highway service in case of a breakdown.  If you have been driving long enough, you are well aware that cars will choose to konk out in the most inhospitable locations.  I personally had a break down on the I-15 just past Baker near the Nevada border.  However, because we had AAA the only inconvenience was a rather long wait while a wrecker which towed us to a repair shop in Las Vegas.  It could have been much worse.

Speaking of cars, your vehicle should be equipped with a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit, and you should also carry along a good supply of drinking water and snack food to tide the family over until help gets to you.  Anyone in the family have special medical needs?  Are you prepared to deal with that should you be stranded with car trouble?

When selecting a motel, I like to pick one that has individual doors leading to the outside.  If necessary, I’ll call ahead and specify that I want a downstairs room so that I can park in front of it.  Even though I will bring all of my valuables inside the motel room, I still want to be where I can keep an eye on my car should anyone start prowling around it.  That way a press on the alarm key will send them running.  And, if your favorite chain motel happens to end up being in a seedy part of town, don’t be afraid to cancel the reservation and select a safer location.

When you get to your motel where you will be staying take a minute to look up the local sheriff or police direct line.  911 is great, but sometimes you may need direct access or it may not be a life changing emergency to report.   And you will know who you are calling.

Once you are inside for the night, there are several handy gadgets that will secure the door of your motel.  They are not expensive and can be found on the Internet.  I doubt that any device can totally prevent someone from getting into your motel room, however these security devices will cause the intruder to take longer and make more noise, and that should work to your advantage.

If they are old enough to use one, all members of your family should have their own cell phones.  Make sure that phone numbers are exchanged, and that includes phone numbers for the folks back home who are keeping tabs with your itinerary.

Should you get separated from each other during a vacation excursion, cell phones are a handy way to locate each other and reunite.  In fact, it is a good idea to agree on a meeting place should everyone get separated during an excursion.  And if there are kids in the family, make sure that they understand what to do if they are approached by strangers.

I recently read a news account of a young boy who was walking home from school, when a guy in a car pulled up and told him that his mother had been detained at work and that he had volunteered to pick the boy up and take him home.  Without approaching the car, the young boy asked, “What’s the password?”

When the man asked what he meant, the boy took off running back to the school.  You see, he and his mother had agreed on a simple password if it ever became necessary for her to send someone else to pick him up.  Personal-defense plans work for people of all ages and sizes.

Finally, a few notes regarding a defensive items along on your trip. Did you receive proper prior training to know how to use it not just purchase the tear gas, etc because it “might” be needed?   And by all means, stay up to date on the laws in the states you will visit as well as those through which you will be passing.  What the law is back home won’t really impress the local law enforcement officers.  Be informed.  And don’t even think about taking tear gas on a plane.  Not even in checked baggage.  The units are not designed to be at 35,000 feet and if you contaminate the entire luggage section you will have some uncomfortable questions to answer.

Just as with home-defense, vacation safety requires some prior planning.  Involve the whole family and come up with a set of plans that meet your personal needs and situation.  Hopefully, you won’t need any of them, but there is no need in turning a vacation into a life-changing tragedy.