Monday, November 7, 2011

You Won't Find Me.



Hiding Valuables Discreetly


Anyone who has ever left for vacation has spent time considering where in their homes to hide their valuables. Well, chances are that a thief has spent even more time pondering where valuables are likely to be hid. All things considered, a safety deposit box in a bank vault is still the best place to keep jewelry and other valuables, but there are some places around your home that make terrific hiding places for important items.
There are some places where experienced thieves are sure to look, such as inside top drawers, underneath any drawer, and behind wall art in the den or bedroom. We suggest you take care to avoid these obvious, or rather popular, caches.
It's a good idea to wrap items in plastic before stashing them. Most of our suggestions are for small objects that can be held in your hand. Take time to look around your place for spaces where you can hide things unobtrusively. You want places that are easily overlooked and will not be disturbed accidentally by a houseguest or neighborhood pet.
The following suggestions are less obvious places than the ones mentioned above, but remember that a determined thief with enough time will probably find what you have in your home. What you're doing here is buying time, hoping that any burglar will be disturbed before getting to your good stuff.
Hide it Easily
Look for easily accessible places, created with a minimum of fuss, which are also easily overlooked by the casual observer. Some good examples of these places are: 
  • Bulk dry goods such as jars of rice and flour can hide small valuables and be kept out of the way on the back shelf.
  • Condiment containers, such as mustard and mayonnaise jars in your refrigerator, can also hold small items.
  • Aspirin or brown pill bottles inside the medicine cabinet can be a good bet.
  •  Packages of frozen vegetables can be thawed, and refrozen with items inside them.
  • Tennis balls with a small slit in them will return to their original shape. Squeeze the ball to open and stuff, then scatter it among others at the back of a closet.
  • Vacuum cleaner bags can hide baggies with valuables inside them.
  • Stuffed animals can be cut open (gently, and not around young children) and used as unlikely containers. Cut along a seam, stuff and re-sew Teddy before returning him to his friends.
  • Ceiling light fixtures can be unscrewed, and small valuables may be placed within the electrical box underneath.
  • Composite "rocks" that have latchable, enclosed spaces within are available through mail-order catalogs. They can be placed outside in the garden.
Create a More Permanent Hiding Spot
These places require a bit more preparation to become effective hidden containers.
  • Book safe: glue most of the pages of an old, uninteresting hardcover book together. Use a coping saw to cut a hollow area out of the middle. Drill starter holes for the saw. Then glue the box made with the pages to the back cover and let dry thoroughly. Stash on your bookshelf among other books.
  • Steps and flooring have natural hollow spaces underneath. Carpentry skills are required to effectively create a seamless surface that escapes detection
  • Hollow core doors can have sections cut out of the hinge edge to give access to the space within the door. Use the cutout piece as a plug
  • The tops of poster beds unscrew. Hollow spaces can be drilled out in the posts themselves. Commercial wall and floor safes should be installed by a professional, and are effective at drastically slowing down the unprepared casual thief.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hotel Safety Tips For Travelers



Before your trip
  • Copy all credit cards, airline tickets, passports and important documents, front and back.
  • Jewelry and luggage and all valuables should be photographed prior to trip.
What to look for in a safe hotel:
  • If possible, select a hotel with has installed modern electronic guest room locks. The majority of these locks automatically change the lock combination with every new guest so there is little chance of someone having a duplicate key to your room. If you lose or misplace your key, ask to have your room re-keyed immediately.
  • Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
  • Fire sprinklers in hotel rooms, hallways, and meeting rooms likewise for smoke detectors. If each room is not equipped with a smoke detector, are sprinklers systems installed in the hallways or is your only hope the local fire department.
  • Each room telephone should allow outside dialing.
  • Guest phones located in hallways and lobbies should not allow direct room dialing. Anyone using the phone should have to call the operator and request a room by guest name, not room number.
  • Secure locks on windows and adjoining doors.
  • Well-lit interior hallways, parking structures and grounds.
  • Hotels that have limited access to hotel structure, generally the more limited the access; the less likely a trespasser will enter.
  • The parking garage should not have elevators taking passengers to guest floors. It should only go to the lobby.
  • Does hotel provide personnel trained in guest security and available for escorts to rooms and auto when requested?
  • Is the hotel located in a high crime rate area, especially when traveling overseas? Check with the US Embassy's Resident Security Officer in that country and they can alert you of areas to stay away from.
When arriving and checking into your hotel room
  • If you arrive in a bus or cab, stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel lobby.
  • Keep a close eye on your luggage, purse, etc when checking in.
  • If the lobby is busy, thieves will often take advantage of the distractions to take your things with them.
  • If you are staying in an older room which still has the older guest door locks with metal key, one of first signs of how a hotel treats the issue of security is to observe how hotel room keys are controlled. If it is checkout time and a pile of metal room keys are laying on the front desk, the hotel is not too concerned about your security. Anyone can take and key laying on the desk. This is not a big concern if the hotel is using electronic key cards but is if the metal keys have the room number embossed on it. You will find this more prevalent overseas.
  • Ask the front desk personnel not to announce your room number. Rather, tell them to write it down or point to it. If the desk clerk should do this, explain the problem and asked to be given another room. You never know who is listening. Your room number is a matter of security, and the fewer people that know your whereabouts, the better. There’s no need to announce it to the entire hotel lobby.
  • When registering, sign only your last name and first initial. Don’t use titles or degrees. Makes it harder to determine gender, marital status or profession. If you are a women traveling alone, you might consider booking your room as Mr. and Mrs.
  • Don't leave your credit card lying on the check-in counter while you complete your registration. Also make sure the credit card that is handed back to you by the hotel clerk is really yours.
  • Instruct the desk not to give out your name and room number and ask for them to call you if someone inquires about you.
  • Immediately upon check in, get two business cards or matchbooks with the hotel name and address on them. Place one by the phone in the room so you know where you are and keep the other on you when you leave so you know where to come back to. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number handy. There is nothing more frustrating than telling a cab driver to take you to the "Marriott" and they ask which one?? That could be one very expensive cab ride. Or if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, you can simply show a taxi driver the matchbook, and you’re on your way back to the hotel.
Room Selection
  • Maximize safety and security. Select a room located between the 4 and 6th floor Avoid rooms above the sixth floor--the maximum height that fire-department ladders can reach. For some fire departments overseas, and within the United States, they do not have equipment to reach hotel floors above the 6th floor
  • Whenever possible do not except a hotel on the ground floor that has doors and windows that open to the outside. Hotels with interior hallways tend to be generally safer. For security in motels, avoid ground floor rooms off the parking lot. If you can't get a room on a higher level, take one facing the interior courtyard.
  • Guestrooms that are as close to the elevators as possible are safest, but tend to be noisier. You might also want to find out if the room is located next to a vending area, those also tend to be noisy.
Elevator safety
  • Women should be accompanied to hotel room and room should be checked
  • Observe all passengers in elevators
  • It is wise to board last and select floor buttons last
  • If possible position yourself near the elevator control panel and if attacked, push as many floor buttons as possible. Keep your back to the sidewall.
  • If someone suspicious boards an elevator, exit as soon as possible.
When checking into your hotel room
After checking into a room, examine the following:
  • Examine the guest room lock and be sure it is functioning properly.
  • The closets and bathrooms are checked to make sure no one is hiding.
  • All windows and outside doors are checked to insure they lock and operate properly
  • The lock on the adjoining door is checked to insure it is locked and works
  • The telephone is checked and you know how to make a outside call
  • Look for information in room about fire safety and read to become familiar with nearest fire exit / stairway. Locate nearest fire exit. Find one at each end of the hallway. How many doors away? Does the door open easily? Are the exit signs illuminated? If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. Is the stairwell clear of debris? Make a note on the back of the business card that you place by your bed noting the number of doors away to the emergency exit, in each direction, and the location of the fire extinguisher and fire pull box.
  • When you enter your hotel room, make sure the door closes securely and that the deadbolt works. Keep the deadbolt and safety bar on at all time. It cannot be stressed enough that you should never prop your hotel room door open. Anyone could walk in.
  • Place your room key in the same place every time, preferably close to the bed.
  • If you have to leave the room in a hurry due to an emergency, you won't have time to be searching for your key. Also, you'll need the key to get back into the room.
  • When inside a hotel room, for whatever length of time always use the deadbolt. If the room does not a dead bolt or heavy-duty security clasp but has a chain, twist it to take up the slack before latching it.
  • The door to your room must never be opened by anyone unless the guest is absolutely known.
  • If you receive a phone call to your room and the person states they are with the hotel and need to come to your room and repair something, use caution. Always get the employees name and call the front desk to verify that it was a legitimate employee who called you and they do in fact need to come to your room. Some criminals are known to where hotel uniforms or pose a plainclothes security. The best bet is to be your own security guard. No matter how effective hotel security is, it can't think of everything.
  • If you want to test the hotel, call the switchboard from a house phone and ask for yourself. Tell the operator you are not sure of the room number. If the answer is, "She's in room 203," this is not a good sign. The correct answer is, "I'll connect you." Good security requires that the hotel switchboard not give out room numbers and the best hotels strictly adhere to this policy.
  • When inside your room, use a door swedge when sleeping or in the shower. This may seem a little overkill but overseas, hotel burglars have been know to frequent hotels that use standard metal room keys that are easy to obtain. Unfortunately many hotels do not change the locks to the doors when the keys are lost, the criminals know that many of the hotel rooms might contain valuables of the presumed wealthy western traveler from the United States. Some of the crooks are very bold. They have been know to listen to the room door to see if you are in the shower. If you are they enter your room with the spare key (because no secondary door lock) and removes your wallet, purse, or laptop. If someone else is in the room the crook is in a suit and says “sorry, the front desk gave me this key.” By employing a door swedge will keep out these sly crooks and will could an alarm if attempted. See our products page for one of these devices.
  • Never leave your key in the lock inside your room (some hotels in third world countries still have these). they can be pushed out from the other side with a pin. The crooks simply slides a piece of newspaper under the door, the key drops on the paper and the crook slide the paper and the key back under the door.
Place that all-important flashlight next to your bed.
  • It's much too dangerous to be stumbling around in a dark hotel in the middle of the night if the electricity goes out. Also, if you have to evacuate in the event of a fire, the flashlight will help guide you down a smoke filled hallway.
  • Remember, if there is a fire or other such emergency, you are pretty much on your own to evacuate yourself, especially at night. What you learn in the few minutes it takes you to orient yourself to your room and the surrounding areas could mean the difference between life and death
  • If you loose your key, ask for a new room or have the lock or electronic key card changed.
When you leave your hotel room for the day or evening
  • When you leave your room, always leave the television on.
  • Ask maid to make your room up during breakfast. Place “Do not disturb" sign on door. If you want maid service, call to housekeeping and tell them to make up the room but leave the sign on the door. The sign is valuable when you aren't in the room because it gives the impression you are still inside.
  • At night, leave a light on and drapes should be partially opened as if someone was inside.
  • Always use the security vault in hotel. The in-room safe is adequate sometimes. The ones least recommended are those that take standard keys (usually overseas). Preferred are those that have an electronic combination lock. The front desk deposit boxes are usually safer but more inconvenient.
  • Don't display you guest room key in public or even inside the hotel or at the swimming pool. Crook have known to walk by casually, observe the number in the key if stamped on it and make false charges in the hotel restaurant, bar or store and using your room number.
Hotel Safe Considerations Depending on the type and age of your hotel, typically safes which let you select your own combination are safer than room safes with keys that may have had keys copied by dishonest hotel employees.
  • Some travlers report that their credit card numbers may have been comprimised by someone who may have entered their hotel safe and copied down their numbers. This is very hard to prove. Some travelers place their credit cards in a sealed envelope in their hotel room safe so they can tell if this has occurred.
  • Research your hotel online - TripAdvisor.com is a great research site - look for terms such as theft from hotel room safes or related comments. Unfortunately in some hotels, dishonest employees use master keys to remove items from your hotel safe when you are away. This tens to be a larger problem outside the United States.
  • If you want a higher level of security for your room safe, consider purchasing your own personal hotel safe lock that lets you place your own lock on your safe. Only one hotel safe lock is on the market today to allow you to better safeguard your safe's valuables. This product, is the Milockie Hotel Safe Lock. 
What to take with you when leaving your hotel room
  • Take a minimum of cash, and only enough travelers checks for that outing.
  • Carry “bait money” for potential thieves.
  • Wear minimum jewelry, especially women. Women, wear only a simple wedding band in lieu of a diamond ring. Remember in some foreign cities and even some area within the United States, a diamond ring might be worth what a criminal might earn in a year. Remove the temptation!
  • Keep credit cards and t/checks in separate pockets.
Laptop safety while staying in a in hotel room
  • Laptop computers or other expensive items can be easily stolen from hotel rooms. The only way to protect them is to leave them at the front desk in a safety deposit box or to secure them in your room. If you want to take the easy way by leaving them in your room (most of us do) use a security cable to a fixed object in the hotel. I always attach my laptop to the pipe under the sink in the bathroom when my laptop is left in the hotel room for several hours. Think about it. Would you leave your wallet or purse sitting on the table in the middle of your room? Usually not, but you would leave a $3,500 laptop sitting there! Which is more valuable?
Hotel parking lots
  • If you valet park your car at the hotel, and valet driver puts a card on your dash, make sure it does not have your room number, always keep it private.
  • Always walk in numbers at night, especially in hotel parking lots
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Crooks know that rental cars contain items of value.
  • Park as close to an exit as possible.
  • When approaching a car, always have keys in hand.
  • Women should keep purses close to their bodies not loose around or dandling off a shoulder. Keep it in front of you with a hand on top of it. Do not feel awkward to ask for an escort to your car. It is recommended to use the valet service at night.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thefts at Airport Screening Stations - Things to Look For



If You Travel Via Commercial Airlines and Carry a Laptop Computer Or Briefcase Containing Valuable Material... This is Vital Information to Know!

This scam involves two persons who look for a victim carrying a laptop computer or other valuable carry-on baggage and approaching a metal detector. They position themselves in front of the unsuspecting passenger and stall until their mark puts the laptop on the conveyor belt.

The first hustler moves through the metal detector easily. The second deliberately sets off the detector and begins a very slow process of emptying pockets, removing jewelry, etc. While this is happening, the first hustler picks up the laptop as soon as it appears on the conveyor belt, walks away quickly, heads into the gate area, and disappears among the crowd.

When the passenger finally gets through the metal detector, the laptop is gone and there's no way of proving the person who set off the detector with the delaying tactic had anything to do with the theft. In fact, a third hustler may sometimes be involved, as he takes a hand-off from the first. This third crook takes the computer out of the restricted area before anything can be done to stop the theft (even if the passenger becomes aware of it while still waiting on the other side of the metal detector).

What can you do to prevent it from happening to you?

Of course the obvious is when traveling with a laptop computer (or any 'hand carried' valuables which must be placed on the airport's security conveyor belt for examination by x-ray) is to try and avoid lines at the entrance of the metal detector.
Better yet... try to fly with a friend and make sure one of you has cleared the detector before either puts anything on the conveyor belt!

When you don't have a traveling companion and there are unavoidable lines, you must delay putting your luggage and laptop on the conveyor belt until you're sure you'll be the next person through the metal detector. And, as you move through the detector, keep your eyes on the conveyor belt and watch for your luggage and laptop to come through at the other end, while keeping a 'sharp eye' on what those in front of you are picking up).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Useful 800 Travel Industry Telephone Numbers



Useful 800 Travel Industry Telephone Numbers

(within the U.S.)
AIRLINES
CODE
HOTELS
Aeromexico
AM
237-6639
Best Western
528-1234
Air Canada
AC
776-3000
Crown Sterling
433-4600
Air France
AF
237-2747
Days Inn
325-2525
Alaska Airlines
AS
426-0333
Doubletree
528-0444
Alitalia
AZ
223-5730
Embassy Suites
362-2779
Aloha Airlines
AQ
323-3345
Four Seasons
332-3442
American Airlines
AA
433-7300
Hampton Inns
426-7866
America West
HP
247-5692
Hilton
445-8667
British Airways
BA
247-9297
Holiday Inn
465-4329
Canadian Airlines
CP
426-7000
Howard Johnson
654-2000
Cathay Pacific
CX
233-2742
Hyatt
233-1234
China Airlines
CI
227-5118
Intercontinental
327-0200
Continental Airlines
CO
525-0280
Marriott
228-9290
Delta Airlines
DL
221-1212
Marriott Courtyard
321-2211
El Al Israel Airlines
LY
223-6700
Omni
843-6664
Hawaiian Airlines
HA
367-5320
Quality Inn
228-5151
Iberia
IB
772-4642
Radisson
333-3333
Japan Airlines
JL
525-3663
Ramada
228-2828
KLM
KL
777-5553
Red Lion
547-8010
Korean Air
KE
438-5600
Ritz Carlton
241-3333
Lan Chile S.A.
LA
735-5526
Sheraton
325-3535
Lufthansa
LH
645-3880
Stouffer/Renaissance
468-3571
Mexicana
MX
531-7921
Westin
228-3000
Midwest Express
YX
452-2022
Wyndham
822-4200
Northwest Airlines
NW
225-2525
Philippine Airlines
PR
435-9725
Qantas Airways
QF
227-4500
Reno Air
QQ
736-6247
CAR RENTALS
Sabena
SN
955-2000
Alamo
327-9633
Scandinavian Airlines
SK
221-2350
Avis
331-1212
Singapore Airlines
SQ
742-3333
Budget
527-0700
Southwest Airlines
WN
531-5600
Dollar
800-4000
Swissair
SR
221-4750
Enterprise
325-8007
TWA
TW
221-2000
Hertz
654-3131
United Airlines
UA
241-6522
National
227-7368
USAir
US
428-4322
Payless
729-5377
Varig
RG
468-2744
Thrifty
367-2277
Virgin Atlantic
VS
862-8621

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tips for In-Flight Comfort



Sit in bulkhead or exit row aisles. Bulkheads offer extra legroom and no one can recline his seat back into your face. Remember that you have to store your carry-on luggage in the overheads. Exit rows have the luxury of extra foot room, but you must be able to open the emergency door, if needed.

Dress for duress. Wear flat-soled, lace-up shoes so you can loosen them if your feet swell. Rubber soles my catch on the exit slide during an emergency, and dress shoes don't adjust for swelling.


Protect your bags. Checked bags can get lost. If you have to check, use curbside skycaps to avoid lugging heavy bags through the terminal. Always use luggage locks; some baggage handlers get over curious about what's in your bag.


Entertain yourself. Bring plenty of magazines; they're lighter than books and disposable. Don't forget your Walkman, either; it's the perfect way to catch up on those motivational tapes you've been meaning to listen to or to avoid unwelcome chatter from the person sitting next to you.

Do "air-aerobics". A number of airlines offer in-seat exercise routines to help reduce swelling and pain from cramped muscles and reduced circulation. A number of airlines offer in-flight tips.

Fix your posture. Airline seats don't adjust for relaxed spinal posture. Support your lumbar spine with a rolled-up blanket and your head and neck with a pillow. Another pillow or blanket to prop up your feet will relieve pressure on the backs of your thighs.

Sit up front. A recently released Harvard study found air quality in aircraft cabins didn't meet minimum standards for office buildings. You'll find less carbon dioxide in forward seats. During layovers, get off and take a walk; breathe deeply.

Drink eight ounces of water every hour. Airplane air has only 1% to 10% humidity, even less than most deserts. You'll need more than the two small cart drinks offered on most flights. Bring your own bottled water, and avoid coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks, which are dehydrating diuretics.

Eat light. Even if you order vegetarian meals, everything but fruit plates contains too much salt and fat. Bring your own healthy snacks, like dehydrated soups or nutrition bars. Don't overeat, since your internal organs naturally swell due to cabin pressure changes.

Use daylight to adjust to a new time zone. The Association of Flight Attendants said the secret is to follow the same wake-up, bedtime, work and meal hours in your new location as in your old time zone. Don't try to catch up on sleep by going to bed right after you land or trying to stay up just because you gained a few hours. You'll adjust more quickly if your follow the clock.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tips for first-time and infrequent traveler.



Preparation can help cut down on travel delays inexperienced and experienced travelers alike can help ease airport security delays by following these simple guidelines:

Before you leave home

  1. Reconfirm your flight
  2. Reconfirm your flight directly with the airline 24 to 48 hours prior to departure.
  3. Pack Smart.
  4. Protect yourself and your valuables by placing medicine and expensive items in your carry-on luggage. Keep a pencil or pen handy throughout your trip to note gate, departure time and connecting flight information.
  5. Identify your baggage inside and out.
  6. Place a baggage tag with name, home address and telephone number on the outside of your bag; inside your baggage, put your home information plus your destination address and telephone number.
  7. Bring fewer carry-ons to speed boarding.
  8. Up to two items may be carried on, and each must fit under your seat or in an overhead compartment. Check your ticket envelope or call your travel agent or the airline's reservation office for size and weight requirements.
  9. Read your ticket and ticket envelope in advance. They provide helpful information about policies set by the government and the airline.

Leaving and Arriving at the Airport1

  1. Leave early for the airport.
  2. Arrive at the airport up to two hours before departure for domestic flights and up to three hours before departure for international flights. Anticipate slowdowns during the holidays - traffic may be heavier, airport parking lots may be fuller and lines my be longer at the airport.
  3. Check baggage routing.
  4. Ensure that the agent or skycap attaches the correct tags for your destination city. If you don't recognize the city code - for example, ORD is Chicago O'Hare airport - ask, particularly if you have connecting flights.

Check in early:

  1. Check in at the airline ticket counter if you don't have a seat assignment; go directly to the gate for check-in if you have a boarding pass. Check in one hour before departure on domestic flights and two hours before international departures.
  2. Identification:
  3. Carry at least one form of photo ID at all times. A second photo ID might be required at some airports.
  4. Know your departure gate.
  5. Ask the agent or skycap to write your departure gate number on your ticket envelope or boarding card. Be sure to be at your departure gate at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure time.

Security Check Points:

  1. Once at the airport, be prepared to have your belongings searched by security personnel.
  2. Remove heavy metal at security checkpoints.
  3. Don't wear large metal buckles, belts or jewelry that will activate the metal detector's alarm.
  4. Laptop computers and other electric devices might require additional time to clear security.

Gate Area:

  1. Never leave luggage unattended or under the watch of a stranger.
  2. Do not accept any item from strangers or carry any package with unknown contents.

Boarding:

  1. Stay close to the departure gate.
  2. There you will receive boarding instructions and any last-minute information you need for the flight.
  3. Board when asked:
  4. Be sure to board when your row number is called. Empty seats will be counted and given to standby passengers.

When plane lands:

  1. Upon arrival at your destination, go immediately to the baggage claim area to pick up your luggage. Have the claim stubs available.

When in doubt

Ask questions. Airline employees are generally friendly and helpful. No question is too simple. Just ask.