dog-with-cat-diverEvery picture you upload is filled with information; including where it was taken, when, and what kind of device was used to take it. This is called EXIF data. Some sites, such as Facebook, automatically strip it from your photos, but that isn’t the case for many other sites and apps. An advanced burglar knows how to access this information and can just as easily use it to find their way to your location. What may seem like a harmless airport check-in selfie can also have a similar detrimental effect – broadcasting to criminals your home is currently empty. Remaining cautious on social media when it comes to vacationing is just one way to reduce the chance of an incident during a time when most of us are trying to take a well-deserved breather.

AT HOME – Before you even head to the airport, secure all valuables in your home. Burglars often look through windows to see what is lying around that they might want. The less that is there for them to see, the less enticed they will be to enter. Have either the post office hold your mail or ask a friend to pick up the mail while you are away. Excess mail is an obvious sign that you haven’t been home. Lastly, consider a monitored security system. The presence of this alone is a deterrent from unwanted visitors entering, and any forced entry will cause an alarm to sound and emergency responders to be notified.

AT THE AIRPORT – Find out what baggage is allowed. This will ensure that your carry on fits, enabling you to keep intended personal items by your side. Stay away from bags with extra fabrics or handles to avoid the chance of your luggage getting stuck on a conveyor belt. Never put a lock on your bag (unless it is an approved lock by the airport) as your bag will automatically be searched. It is also recommended that you do not check especially flashy, expensive luggage. This simply makes your bag a target for stealing. Rather, the best way to identify your bag is by adding a colorful ribbon or tag.

Always take airport security seriously. Any joking comments or behavior can result in a search or questioning costing you time and potentially a missed flight.

AT YOUR DESTINATION – Don’t be an obvious tourist. Pulling out your map on a corner or acting noticeably lost provide clear signals that you are unfamiliar with your surroundings and therefore more vulnerable to scams. Learn your route ahead of time to avoid this, and if you are alone try your best to seem like part of a group when possible. Don’t advertise where you keep your money – if you are carrying a purse wear it under your jacket and if you are carrying a wallet put it in a fastened pocket.

Less than two months ago the Eiffel Tower was shut down due to a surge in pickpocket gangs who target tourists and work in groups. These people are professionals and know exactly what to look for. They even go so far as to threaten tower employees to comply by turning a blind eye to the crime occurring around them.

Vacation is meant to be enjoyed. Taking that extra second to think and prepare can be all the difference between a great memory and potential harm.