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3 Phase Vacation Planning

Summer is right around the corner and many families are getting ready for their vacation. Keep in mind, it’s also prime season for criminal activities. So, let’s have some summer fun while feeling confident that you are safe. Here is how to think as opposed to an exhaustive checklist.

Remember, the end state is to have fun while being safe at your destination while keeping the home safe. After many years in the military reviewing comprehensive checklist before training or a mission, we were also taught how to plan in phases. This helped us look at the specifics of each. So how can you plan for a safe and secure vacation while you’re packing family fun? Look at your vacation in three phases or steps; Before, During, and After. Now, don’t stress over what timeline triggers the move to the next phase, you determine it. While you are planning all the vacation events in these phases, simply create a security posture in each. Include members of the family to help, review it as part of your vacation planning and its done. This gets buy in from all members so it’s not an afterthought when you are pulling out the driveway or dreadful. If you have a large family, assign different members of the family to take charge of a phase and be responsible. Bottom line, have fun and accomplish the task!

You want your home to look lived in while you are gone. So, think about things like grass cutting, mail, deliveries, trash pick-up, etc. Don’t forget about night time. Consider what normal looks like at night and don’t forget timed lighting. Let a trusted family member or friend know your schedule and ask them to check on your house. Don’t leave a key for convenience hidden around the house. Thieves know all the good hiding spots. Check your alarm system and insure batteries and everything is good to go. Don’t forget to check your car maintenance.

OK, so that’s some tips about home. Now, look at where you are going and no I am not trying to say the sky is falling everywhere. Just know your destination and have at least situational awareness. Check weather and look for any newsworthy current events in your destination. A good way to get to know your destination is through Neighborhood Scout Crime Risk Reports provide an instant, objective assessment of property and violent crime risks and rates for every U.S. address and neighborhood.

While you are at your destination, you feel a sigh of relief from the journey getting there. Now, it’s time for fun. Just remember you stick out as a tourist and the bad guy knows that. So, try not to look so touristy and maintain a good situational awareness about your destination. Know your daily schedule especially if everyone is going in different directions. Have phones charged and identify a rally point if something bad happens. OK, that’s about as alarming as I will get. Remind everyone to keep credit cards safe and be cautious of scams someone is trying to convince you to buy. Also, remember social media. Be careful about posting that you are away so the entire world sees it. Remember, you are trying to keep your home safe and you as well. Keep a daily tab on current local events especially weather to maintain that situational awareness.

Now we are packing up and going home. You simply just want to get home safely. Let your trusted family member know that you are on the way back and anticipated arrival. Driving safety is very important here. Make sure you had a good night’s rest, check your car if you drove, and look at your route for any impediments. When you get home, take a moment to look around the outside for anything that was damaged or tampered. When you enter the house, do the same. Check all your credit cards for accountability and review charges.

Now that you are unpacked and looking at all your vacation pics, consider sitting down with the family and do an after action review during dinner or family time. No, it does not have to be formal and stressful, just simply look at your vacation as a whole and look at the pros and how to make it better next time. More importantly, share the great memories and pictures!

Knowing how to plan as opposed what to plan is just as important. While it’s easy to regurgitate a checklist, consider breaking it down to planning a before, during and after format. This makes you think as opposed to just reading and reacting to a checklist. Enjoy your vacation travels and remember the end state of all travel is to have fun! Learn more safety and security tips at