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Urban Legend or Fact? 5 Tips for Safe Travels on Your Summer Vacation

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It’ll be Memorial Day weekend before you know it and, for many of us, that means vacation fun in the sun and road trips over the summer. While we hope you’ll enjoy a drama-free vacation, there are some real dangers inherent in traveling at this time of year.

However, worrying that your hotel key card contains sensitive personal information, such as your credit card number, is not one of them. Condé Nast Traveler debunks this popular urban legend, assuring you that hotels don’t even store your name in your key card. So what should you really be concerned about before you set out on your dream vacation?

Prevent identity theft

With identity theft increasingly on the rise, the chances that someone could gain access to your personal financial information and Social Security number while you’re traveling are high. If your wallet or purse is stolen, identity thieves can cause damage to your credit cards, bank accounts, and even your tax return that can take months or years to iron out.

Before and during your trip:
  • Clean out your wallet. Remove unnecessary credit cards and your Social Security card.
  • Keep your wallet and personal documents with you at all times, or use the hotel safe.
  • Either leave your debit card at home and use only credit cards on the road, or use a debit card linked to a dedicated checking account you establish solely for travel.
  • Keep your main credit card in one place, and your debit or backup card in another so you have recourse if a thief gets one. Likewise, stash your cash in different locations such as different pockets, a purse and a pocket, etc. (but never inside checked baggage).
  • Use traveler's checks or prepaid traveler's check cards as backup cash.
  • Provide your bank and credit card issuers with a rough itinerary of your trip in case out-of-area charges trip your institutions' fraud detection systems. Declined credit cards can put a real damper on a vacation.
Kid-proof your hotel room

If you’re traveling with little ones, perform a thorough safety check once you get to your hotel room. Look for choking hazards, looped drape or blind cords, and unstable pieces of furniture that could topple. Choose a ground floor hotel room or a room without a balcony, and if you’ve got babies and toddlers, take along a supply of plastic plug guards for the electrical sockets.

Germ-proof your hotel room

Bring along hand sanitizer or sterile wipes, and give every surface in your room a disinfecting wipe-down. Don’t forget doorknobs, light switches, phones, and sink and toilet handles — common hotbeds where germs lurk.

Above all, disinfect the remote control. A 2014 investigation of hotel cleanliness found that the worst germ offender was the TV remote control. “All of the remotes in the rooms tested registered sky-high levels of bacteria … [and] laboratory testing of a sample from one TV remote revealed colonies of E. coli.

Never go barefoot in your hotel room, and be sure your kids always have shoes or socks on. Buy everyone a pair of cheap foam flip-flops, and wear them in the shower to avoid contracting athlete's foot.

Child-safety in public places

If you’re taking kids to a theme park or large outdoor arena, teach your child who is safe to approach if you become separated:

  • Tell preschoolers to look for a mommy with children.
  • Teach older kids to recognize law enforcement uniforms and name badges.
  • Make it clear that your child is not to approach unfamiliar men.

Before you leave your hotel for the outing, take a digital picture of each of your children. If one of them is lost, you have a photo to share with theme park authorities that shows exactly how your child looks in the day’s clothing. Dress them in bright colors for high visibility, and tuck identification with your cell phone number into a pocket or sew it inside a garment.

Safety on the road

Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. Fatalities increase when large numbers of people are driving recreationally. If you do plan to drive, drive shorter distances. Robert Foss, senior research scientist at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, explains: "I often tell people I can cut your driving risk in half: Just drive half as much."

Foss also suggests:

  • Take the interstate highway instead of local roads. Because all the traffic is moving in the same direction, you won’t have cars crossing in front of you.
  • Choose a congested route. Yes, you may be irritated, but slower traffic is safer traffic.

There are a variety of ways to stay safe, healthy, and crime-free while on vacation. It just takes a bit of pre-planning.

If you, or someone you know, is passionate about keeping others safe, University of the Cumberlands has several online criminal justice programs, including Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.

For more information about our programs, please visit us at, or call one of our admissions counselors at 855-791-7201.

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