05/22/13 This weekend, Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the summer travel season. Many folks are gearing up for that summer vacation. Your Indiana State Police offer a few tips one should keep in mind when traveling. First, carrying large amounts of cash is not a good idea. Carry only enough cash to pay for cabs, shuttle services, and other minor incidentals.
Credit or debit cards are convenient but one must constantly guard against theft, not just of the card itself, but one must make sure they protect their credit card number. Don’t leave your card lying on the table in a restaurant or display it freely where someone could see your number. Be aware of someone who may be nearby who may attempt photograph the card with a camera phone. Keep your credit card company’s number in a separate, easily accessible place so if you do lose your card or if its stolen, you can report it immediately to have the missing cards canceled. It’s also best to carry no more than one or two credit cards while traveling.
When leaving home for that summer trip, let someone know where you are going, your route or means of travel, how to contact you in case of emergency, and when you expect to return. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery service. Nothing says, “No one is home” better than having several days worth of newspapers lying on the front porch. Turn off your water and water heater and make sure curling irons, hair dryers, and other small appliances are unplugged before leaving your house. Make sure all doors and windows are locked and have a timer set up to turn some lights on in your house during the evening hours and shut off at the time you would normally go to bed. Ask a neighbor or relative check your house daily while you’re away to make sure everything is okay.
Special precautions should also be taken when traveling outside the United States. Certain areas of Mexico and the Middle East can be very dangerous for U.S. citizens. Check the U.S. Department of State website at www.state.gov and click on the “travel” tab to get up-to-date information and tips for traveling abroad.
When loading up the family for the shorter trips to places like the Great Smokey Mountains, make sure your car is ready for the trip. Get the oil changed, check your tires (including your spare) for proper air pressure and for any possible defects. Check fluid levels, belts, and other critical mechanical parts to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and throw a few tools such as a wrench set, breaker bar, flashlight, and other such items in a tool box in your trunk along with a gallon of antifreeze and a quart or two of oil. It’s also a good idea to obtain a AAA membership or other roadside assistance package “just in case.”
Prior to leaving, make sure you’re well rested. Have your route of travel mapped out and check ahead for any possible road construction on your route. Make sure everyone is buckled up and if you have small children, make sure they are properly restrained in a child restraint system. With small children it’s also a good idea to take books for them to read or other items to occupy their time to avoid the constant, annoying question, “Are we there yet?” Make frequent rest stops during your trip to stay well rested and keep your cell phone charged or have a car charger for your cell so if necessary, you can make an emergency call.
Another good idea when traveling with children is to write the child’s name, your name and cell number, as well as a close friend or relative’s name and number on a card. Include other information on the card such as allergies or any other health conditions your child may have. Give each child the card to carry with them in their pocket or back pack in case you get separated. Also, tell your children should they get separated, to stay in the area and not to wander off looking for you. Remind them not to speak with strangers or go anywhere with a stranger. Tell them to speak only to a police officer or other individual in uniform such as park rangers, uniformed amusement park employees, etc. Tell them to give the card with your contact information to the official so immediate contact can be made with you.
If you take prescription medication, make sure to take an adequate supply including extra in case you are unexpectedly detained for a few extra days. Make sure to take the prescription bottle with you as well. If you use one of the daily pill distribution containers and you don’t have your prescription with you, you are committing a felony violation by possessing a prescription drug without the prescription in your possession. You should also make sure your health insurance cards are current and have them with you in case it becomes necessary to seek medical attention while away from home.
Nothing is more enjoyable than a summer trip with the family or close friends. By following the above tips, you should be able to avoid some of those things that can otherwise ruin that family vacation.