From booking flights to securing a house-sitter, there’s a lot to think about when you’re planning a trip. Whether you’re going backpacking across Europe or taking a luxury train across our beautiful country, you’ve probably been busy making plans for a smooth journey. But have you thought about how you’re going to protect your stuff when you’re away from home? Consider these tips before you hit the road.
Make sure your belongings are insured
Did you know that many home, tenant, and condo insurance policies can protect your stuff when you’re travelling abroad? So, if your suitcase is stolen or your designer sunglasses vanish into thin air, your home insurance policy could have you covered.
Before you leave for your trip:
- Check your to-pack list and make sure everything on it is covered by your insurance policy, and ask your broker ahead of time if you’re not sure (beware of special limits for higher-value items like jewelry and camera equipment, which you may have to list individually on your policy)
- Keep a list of the items you bring with you on your trip, including as much detail as you can (make, model number, and cost), as well as photos and receipts if possible
You should know… Basic insurance policies usually don’t include loss of personal belongings by theft — but enhanced or comprehensive policies, which tend to be most common, usually do. Read through your policy carefully to see what’s covered, or ask your licensed broker to confirm.
Get theft-proof gear for packing
No matter where you’re travelling, there are a few items that can come in handy when it comes to protecting your valuables. Consider investing in items like these:
- TSA-approved suitcase locks that can be unlocked by airport security with a universal key (otherwise you risk regular locks or suitcase zippers being broken if your checked bags are selected for further screening)
- A money belt or pouch with RFID protection, which does double-duty by protecting your physical cash from pickpockets and protecting your credit card and passport information from being stolen wirelessly
- Backpacks with locks and internal compartments that fasten shut, which make it much trickier for someone to quickly snag something from your backpack
Beware of common pickpocket scams
While it does help to research which parts of a city are known for pickpockets before you get there, the reality is, pickpockets can target you anywhere. Familiarize yourself with these common pickpocket scams so you won’t be caught off guard should you encounter one:
- The ring scam, where someone picks up a ring off the ground and asks if it belongs to you, and while you’re distracted, their buddy comes up and tries to pick your pockets (alternative ending: the pickpocket tries to sell you the ring and, once again, their buddy robs you while you’re busy negotiating a price)
- The petition or donation scam, where someone asks you to sign a petition or sponsor their sports team while their friend tries to get into your bag
- The “here, let me help you” scam, where someone offers to help you carry your luggage through a train station or other public space (it can be hard to turn down help when you’re struggling with heavy bags, but it’s best to keep your bags in your own hands)
Keep valuables on you whenever possible
It might be tempting to leave valuables like jewelry, credit cards, and passports in your hotel room or rented apartment, but you’re probably not the only one with a key — so you’re not the only one who has access to your stuff when it’s inside. You should either carry your valuables with you or lock them in a secure safe when you’re out and about for the day (but even then, someone likely has a master key for the safe in your hotel room, so use it at your discretion).
This tip applies when you’re on your way to your final destination, too. You should never leave valuables in your checked luggage — keep them in your carry-on and make sure your carry-on never leaves your sight.
Protect your digital stuff, too
Something many of us forget to think about when we’re travelling (or, let’s face it, even when we’re at home) is the threat of identity theft. If you haven’t already done so, put passwords and lock codes on all of the devices you’re planning on bringing with you. It’s also a good idea to implement two-factor authentication on all of the digital accounts you’re likely to access while you’re away, including online banking sites — the last thing you want to deal with while you’re away is an unexpected call from your bank.
Have questions about which of your belongings are covered by your insurance policy or how travelling abroad could affect your coverage? Contact your licensed home insurance broker well before you hit the road.
While protecting the stuff you bring with you on your trip might be top-of-mind right now, don’t forget to take these important steps to protect your home while you’re away.
Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter to help your travel buddies protect their stuff, too.