Security tips for holidaymakers

By Simon Calder

Simon Calder has advice for taking care of yourself and your property.

Think twice before telling the whole world via social media that you're away from home. Photo / 123RF
Think twice before telling the whole world via social media that you're away from home. Photo / 123RF

BEFORE YOU GO

Many holidaymakers book trips online - but a few thousand are left with nothing but a big dent in their finances.

Before you type in your financial details to pay for flights or accommodation, satisfy yourself that you are dealing with a bona fide trader. If anyone asks you to send money by bank transfer, alarms should sound.

Do not send money unless you are absolutely certain about the trustworthiness of the recipient. Bank transfers are irreversible. If the deal turns out to be a scam - for example, the villa you thought you had booked does not exist - you have no comeback.

Other payment methods, such as credit or debit cards, allow for appeals.

BAGS ARE PACKED, READY TO LEAVE ...

Careful how you label your luggage. One popular trick among burglars is to go to airports and study the labels attached to passengers' baggage - either memorising the home address, or taking a mobile-phone picture of the details.

It's a fair bet the holidaymakers' home will be empty for a week or two. So, don't reveal any personal details beyond your name, mobile phone number (prefixed +64, in case a baggage office needs to call you) and an email address.

Put the same details inside the bag - nothing to do with preventing crime, but simply to increase the chances of reuniting you with your possessions if they stray.

HOTEL HEISTS

Many hotels have an open-door policy that enables people to walk in unchallenged off the streets. Be careful of people milling about at the front desk, possibly eyeing up your luggage. If anyone knocks on your hotel-room door, call reception to check they are legitimate employees before letting them in. In general, small, family-run hotels tend to be better protected against crime than big, anonymous properties.

THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET

"I'm at the airport #onhols" - I follow a number of airports on Twitter to learn of any problems with weather or strikes, and I'm amazed how many people tweet something like: "At the departure gate, can't wait to get to Thailand for a fortnight."

Ditto, tweets such as this one from last weekend: "Lovely day 2day in Ibiza."

It took me about two minutes to find out a great deal about the tweeter. You might as well send an email to your friendly local burglar saying how long you expect to be away, and invite them to find out more about you on your Facebook page.

- INDEPENDENT

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