Family vacations are a time for disconnecting from work, errands, and chores and reconnecting with loved ones. As beautiful and wonderful as it can be, a vacation can also be the time where your family is most vulnerable. My family and I recently traveled to Kissimmee, Florida on a "working vacation" - that is, I worked while on vacation because it was the reason why we were there. While we were out exploring a beautiful regional park, our car window was smashed and a small bag containing a change of clothes for little Danger was stolen. We were exploring the trails for maybe 30 minutes. Needless to say, it came as a huge surprise when we made it back out to the parking lot and saw this:
Glass everywhere... Our brand new car destroyed... No safety officer in sight...
You must remember that seclusion and a peaceful setting is not an indicator of safety. In fact, the opposite can be true. For example: when my family and I were at SeaWorld and Disney's Magic Kingdom, we parked our stroller (with valuables inside the attached bag) and walked off with no worries of anything being stolen. This isn't always the case, I'm sure. It was, however, our experience.
Perhaps we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know. That doesn't mean that I haven't learned from this experience, because believe me - I have!
When you go on vacation, make sure you take a few safety precautions into consideration:
- Don't park near the road. Park closer to the trails or public areas to deter the criminals that hope to do a quick smash-and-grab.
- Don't leave valuables in your car. This includes things that could even appear to be valuables, like the small clothing bag we had up front. While not an expensive bag, it did resemble a laptop bag, making it desirable to criminals.
- Don't rely on your smartphone's 3G or 4G internet in case of an emergency. You will need to have emergency numbers on hand in case something bad happens. It's best to have these numbers written down before your trip so that you are prepared for anything that can come your way.
- Do make sure that you tuck away any and all electronic cords that you may have used on the drive over. Think of all the devices that can be plugged into your car - GPS navigation, cellphone, tablet device - it's no wonder that criminals target these vehicles!
- Do be wary of parking at places that do not have either a camera or a ranger/employee on staff to monitor things. Just one person on staff can make a difference when it comes to deterring crime. In our experience, there was neither a camera nor a park ranger on staff, and we had to wait over 30 minutes for a police officer to come to our aid. This situation could have been much worse if one of us had been injured.
- Do keep in mind that crimes against tourists happen everywhere. For whatever reason, criminals view tourists as being an easy target. Unfortunately, this happens in every tourist destination, so please be careful!