Senior citizens are a prime target of would-be thieves, according to Hank Kovell, a writer for the "Mature Traveler" column of the Los Angeles Times. Knowing how to protect yourself makes the thieves' job tougher.
Traveling can be great fun or it can be a disaster. Often the difference is planning ahead not only for the trip itself but taking care of the "home front" before you leave:
Stop newspaper delivers. Newspapers piled in the yard are a dead giveaway that no one is home.
Have the post office keep your mail of ask a neighbor to pick it up for you. If you are expecting a package to be delivered by UPS or other truck service, have a neighbor watch for it and take it in. Do not leave a note because anyone coming up to your door will know immediately that you are gone.
Securely lock all windows and doors.
Wherever you are, beware of distraction thieves. One of them will distract you. Meanwhile an accomplice steals your possessions. Also be suspicious of anyone asking directions. He may be a decoy to distract you while his accomplice steals your belongings.
If you rent a car, ask the agent for a map showing the safest routes to your hotel and other destinations.
Don't carry expensive-looking luggage or wear expensive clothing or flashy jewelry. In fact, don't take expensive jewelry with you. It will make thieves think that you could be carrying a large amount of cash.
When you get off the plane, get to the luggage carousel as soon as possible. A suitcase going around and around without being claimed is an open invitation to thieves.
Carry at least part of your money in travelers checks.
Keep your cash and credit cards in various locations. If you are traveling with someone else, each person should carry part of the money and/or credit cards.
Leave a list of credit card numbers you have with you in an accessible place at home.
Wear a fanny pack instead of carrying a wallet or purseespecially if traveling in what could be a high-crime area.
When leaving your hotel room, put the "Do Not Disturb" sign out. And, when you leave your room for an extended time, leave the lights on and the television playing so anyone thinking about breaking in will assume the room is occupied.