Travel Tips: Security On Location

by Chris Sanders on July 18, 2013

Welcome to Travel Tips: Security On Location. (If you’d like more tips on travel security, click here: Travel Tips: Security Preflight.)

As a manager at Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women, I participate in tuning our program for the fewest hiccups while on vacation. Here are some of our travel tips that you may find helpful wherever you go.

En Route
You just took off and the captain ok’d the use of electronic devices. Now’s a good time to set up your phone, tablet, and laptop.

Tip: Make one contact in your address book that includes your most important emergency numbers. Name the contact AAAA so it goes to the top of the list. Those will be the easiest numbers to find in a hurry.

Tip: Make a simple home screen with your contact info that can be seen behind the passlock box if someone finds your lost gear. (I use my office phone and email and I mention a reward.)

Check In
The last thing you want to do on the street at 1am is dial your hotel only to be greeted by a scolding recorded message in Spanish that you didn’t dial the number correctly.

Tip: When you check into your hotel ask the receptionist for the front desk and after-hours phone numbers. Dial them to make sure they work. Now you know the local dialing scheme and the hotel number will be on your phone for a quick redial if you need it.

When you unpack, don’t leave your jewelry and electronics laying around.

Tip: Bring a Pacsafe portable safe to store your valuables when you leave the room.

You’re all checked in and ready to go downstairs for a refreshing adult beverage. As you leave the room, ask yourself “If I wake to a fire alarm, do I go right or left out the door?” “Where are the stairs or the fire escape?”

Tip: Now is the perfect time to review your emergency exit route. It’s best to define your path in the daylight, commit it to memory, then find the bar.

Bopping Around

It’s time to hit the streets and have some fun. Probably don’t need to say it, but don’t bring anything you won’t need like your laptop, fancy watch, handbag, or jewelry. Stay nimble and blend in.

Less Troubles with Doubles
Unless your BFF is Lindsay Lohan, you’ll have better luck using the sister system in the ocean waves at Las Olas and the Ocean Waves Bar and Grill.

Tip: Take a friend. Exchange phone numbers. Meet up. Paddle out together. Paddle in together. Get home safe. Fun and easy.

Tip: Save your old ID. I use my expired drivers license or passport when bar hopping. It works for I.D. and if I lose it, so what?

Tip: If you’re lingering in the cafe for a while, strap your backpack around something. If a nimble thief grabs it, they also get a bistro chair.

Extra credit: This makes little sense to my co-workers, but I sometimes carry a clipboard or file folder when working in heavy tourist areas. Why? No one bothers the nerdy guy with a clipboard. They assume I’m either collecting fees or gathering signatures. Street scene Kryptonite.

Mo’ Money

It’s a smart idea to peek in on your bank account every few days to see if you have any money left.

Tip: Most major banks offer free apps for checking your balance while on your journey. If you haven’t done so already, you can download the app at the hotel and have a look at your finances.

We like using ATM machines for cash while traveling. They’re generally safe and give us the best exchange rate outside the USA.

Tip: Use an ATM in a prominent public place, like in a bank or next to a bank with the bank’s name on it. Airports are ok as long as they are in a secure area, but use a bank branded ATM. Crazy Cash is not a national bank. Avoid those ATMs.

ATM’s usually have a daily withdrawal limit of around $300USD. If you run out of euros at 1am and you’re willing to risk the ATM behind Le Chat Noir bar, you’re probably at the start of an exciting vacation memory.

Tip: Plan ahead. Get the money you’ll need at a reputable ATM early in the day, not late at night.


It’s been a long day and it’s time to hit the hay. Have a look around your room and consider what you’d do if the power went out and you had to exit in your jammies.

Tip: Bring a headlamp and set it on the nightstand. Those gadgets are cheap, hands-free solutions to navigating bumpy hallways in the dark and finding outlets behind the dresser.

Tip: Keep all your important stuff in a backpack or bag for a quick grab if you have to leave in a hurry. Fill it with your phone, medications, passport, camera, and money. If you can’t get back in the room at least you can buy new clothes.

Check Out

It’s no fun to discover you forgot your favorite jacket in the hotel armoiré. And it’s no fun for the hotel to try to ship it back to you in the States.

Tip: As you leave your hotel room for the last time, stop at the door, then methodically go from room to room checking for the phone charger behind the night stand, bikini in the shower, clothes in the drawers and closet, etc. Check under the covers and the bed, in the closet, in the bathroom, behind the chairs for any of your items hiding from view.

Extra credit: If you enjoyed your hotel room, make a note in your address book so when you return, you’ll know just the right place to launch your next adventure.

¡Buen Viaje!

If you’d like more tips on travel security, click here: Travel Tips: Security Preflight.

Chris Sanders has traveled internationally for almost 40 years and, knock on linoleum, has yet to lose anything on the road. He works with the crew at Las Olas to insure everyone’s surf adventure is glassy smooth.

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