The day has come, your trip to the destination you’ve always wanted to go. You’ve planned, packed, and prepared for this for months or even years. Whether it’s the beach, the mountains, across the ocean, or across the country, it’s important to be safe when traveling and the airport is no exception.
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With all the other things to worry about when traveling like missing flights or lost luggage, it’s easy to get distracted and drop your guard.
Let us preface this by saying we are not trying to scare or alarm anyone. We just want to give you some practical tips for staying safe when traveling through the airport so you get to your destination safely and with all your gear.
Keep It Impersonal
You bought your kids those cute backpacks and luggage sets with their names on them and you’re all ready to head to the airport. STOP! Save the personalized travel gear for the road trip in the car and not the airport.
Having your child’s name on their gear is an easy way for a preditor to become friendly with your child.
While you have taught your child to not talk to strangers, unfortunately predators are good at what they do and having your childs name visible just makes it easier. All they have to do is see the name on the bag and call it out. While you keep walking, your child has stopped to see who is calling them and is suddenly missing in the crowd of people.
Consider this! We have 3 different school buses stop in front of our home every day picking up and dropping off kids and there is always this one little girl with here name shining brightly on her backpack. There are no adults with her and since she walks to and from the bus stop every day alone, anyone could call her by name and strike up a conversation.
I’m sure her parent(s) have taught her well but still, with her name emblazoned on her backpack, it’s easy for anyone to call her by name and pretend to know her and her family.
If you feel the need to put your child’s name on their gear in case they get lost, sew a nametag on the inside where it can’t be seen easily from the outside. If your child gets lost, airport security will look everywhere to find their name. They are trained to do this and will connect you and your child with flight records to reconnect you.
Phone Down – Head Up
As a culture, we have become so dependent on our cell phones. Many of us use them as our only source of communication and the day of the land-line is soon passing. We are among those who use our cell phones for everything.
I’ll admit, nothing gets on my nerves at the airport faster than people on their phones, not paying attention to anything or anyone around them. It’s the equivalent to me of driving and texting – grrrrrr! You’ve seen them I’m sure. Those who are walking with their head down, reading texts or looking at images and completely oblivious to everything and everyone around them.
That being said, there is a time and a place to be engaged in text messaging and walking through the airport is not it! I’m as guilty as the next person of walking through the airport with my head down, looking at my phone but I try really hard to be aware of my surroundings as well. Not to mention it’s just common courtesy to think about those around you and how your actions impact them.
Think about this! While you are head down, texting or reading an email, a thief could be standing right behind you or next to you picking through your bag and stealing your wallet and/or passport.
Thieves are good, they are also fast! They know exactly what to look for and how to take something undetected. They will bump into you or intentionally knock your bag out of your hands, they have a myriad of ways they steal from you.
I’m sure you’re thinking that thieves don’t buy plane tickets but that’s where you’re mistaken. There are thieves that will purchase a cheap plane ticket just to frequent the airport. They can make more money stealing valuables, credit cards, and cash than the plane ticket costs. Plus, they can always use the ticket, visit another airport and steal and then return home.
Keep your head up and look around you! The text or email can wait! If you must read the text, maybe it’s from the airline, make it quick. Better yet, stop, back up against a wall or find a seat, and then read it.
Wear Your Backpack On Front
While this may sound really weird, hear me out! Do you keep your passport, travel insurance paperwork, phone chargers, etc., in your backpack when you’re traveling? Are you focused on everything that is going on all around you at the airport?
When you’re walking through a crowded airport or standing in a line, how much do you pay attention to what’s going on behind you?
If you’re like most people, you are hardly even noticing what’s behind you until someone bumps into you and usually if you’re like me, you say excuse me and move on. What if that person bumping you just stole your passport or I.D.?
That’s exactly what the thief is counting on. As crowded as some major airports can be, especially during the holidays or summer vacations, it is easy for us to get packed in tight, especially when boarding the plane.
By turning your backpack around and wearing it on the front, you keep it in sight where you can see everything going on with it. It may seem weird at first but trust me, the last thing you want is to be at the airport or on a shuttle and discover your passport or other important document is missing.
DON’T Set It And Forget It
Whenever we fly, it always amazes me to see how many people just leave their luggage sitting on the floor at the airport and head off to the restroom, water fountain, etc. Some even ask total strangers to watch their luggage for them which is very risky!
Not only is this dangerous, but it is also illegal in many airports. Unattended luggage can and will be picked up by airport security or customs if they come across it. Then you have to answer to them as to why you left it sitting unattended and likely miss your flight!
Even though there is security at airports, it only takes a minute for someone to grab the bag, sneak into a restroom, and rifle through the pockets. More than likely, they won’t take everything, only the valuable stuff.
By the time you get back to where you left your bag, it’s gone and so are they! Then your entire trip is ruined. You have no clothes to wear, you’ve lost your phone charger, laptop, or other valuable items, and your mood is completely shot!
If you’re traveling alone, NEVER leave your bags. If you’re traveling with another person or a group, have them keep their eyes on the bag while you do what you need to do.
Also, consider investing in TSA approved lockable luggage or TSA approved locks. This way, even if your luggage is taken, the thief won’t be able to break into it easily and that may cause them to dump it in the airport and it can be retrieved.
And one last thing! Invest in some sturdy luggage tags (we have some fun ones here)! The ones you get at the ticket counter at the airport are fine but they can easily be removed. Sturdy tags are hard to remove and just may buy some time if the thief is caught with the luggage.
While travel insurance will generally cover the cost of lost or stolen luggage, it isn’t going to help you when you’re headed to your dream vacation and have to spend a day filing reports and buying clothes to wear.
Sleeping In The Airport
Let’s face it, at some point in time, we will all miss a flight and get stuck sleeping in the airport! We don’t like it but we know it will happen, it’s happened to me a few times over the years.
While sleeping in the airport isn’t everyone’s choice of great places to catch some z’s, there are some steps you can take to ensure you are safe and your property doesn’t get rifled through or stolen while you sleep.
Even though it may be noisy, choose a place where there are others sleeping and you actively see airport security patrolling. By sleeping in an area with more people, there is a lower chance of someone messing with you or your stuff since there are too many prying eyes.
If you have carry-on luggage, consider renting a locker or checking with the airline about storing it for you while you sleep. Some airports even allow travelers to store their luggage in the “luggage office” while they sleep. Check with the airport and airline to see if they offer these options.
Another option is to pay to use one of the airport lounges. Many airlines will allow travelers to use their lounges for a fee and since they are typically manned by airline employees, it can be safer than the open concourse. Check with the airport or airline to see if this is an option at the airport you’re headed to.
If you’re traveling solo, check-in with airport security and let them know you’ll be sleeping in the airport. While they are used to seeing people sleeping, by telling them you’re sleeping there and alone, they often times will make extra patrols through the area you are sleeping to help keep you safe.
For more tips on how to sleep at the airport safely, visit sleepinginairports.net
Don’t Use The Hook
While that handy hook on the bathroom stall door may be perfect for your handbag, it’s also an easy way for a thief to reach over and grab your handbag and run. This not only applies to airports but really anywhere you use a public restroom with stalls.
Think about this! You’re sitting there attending to your “personal business” and a hand reaches over the stall door and grabs your handbag. What are you going to do? Jump up with your drawers down and run after them? Scream and hope someone hears you and tackles the person?
I personally never hang my handbag, backpack, or anything else of value on stall hooks unless they are either on the sidewall (I’ve seen this more and more) or mid door. A few years ago, there were several reported instances of people reaching over the tops of restroom stall doors and stealing handbags.
Many places have come to realize the risk and have lowered the hooks but there are still a lot of places that have them up high. Another option is to place a toilet seat cover on the floor and place your bag on it. Since I carry a fairly small bag when traveling, I can oftentimes place it on top of the toilet tissue dispenser.
Hopefully, these simple but effective tips will help you in being safe at the airport, no matter where it is. By just taking a few precautions and being fully aware of what’s going on around you, your trip through the airport can be nothing more than a segment in your travel adventure.
Don’t take the chance – travel safely!