Vacation Season Safety Tips

One of the best parts about being the speaker at many of our agricultural events is that I also have the privilege of being the student. I am able to attend lots of other conference sessions before, between or after my presentations. Such was the case at the recent Ag Women of the Heartland Conference in Garden City, Kansas. Brandy Unruh, Criminal Justice Instructor at Garden City Community College, shared important information dealing with personal awareness and safety. As a former police officer, she spoke directly about situations, decisions and options to increase our awareness and safety.

Brandy has given me permission to share a few snippets of her wisdom.

Going on a vacation?

1) Let a few neighbors know the dates you'll be gone and ask them to watch for anything unusual. Perhaps you have a nearby neighbor already feeding your dog or helping out with other chores. Ask them to stop in the house, turn on and off a few different lights (or reset the timers), pick up the mail and check door locks.

2) Do not post on social media that you're going to be away.I saw a recent Facebook post: "10 Days till Disney!"and each day thereafter was a countdown! And do not post pictures of your vacation until you return home. If someone else takes a picture with you in it, ask they not tag you without your permission.

3) Share your itinerary with someone, including planned routes and places you're staying. Check in regularly. Sometimes a quick text to a designated friend or relative can be most helpful.  Something like…"Just entering the state of WY on I-80"or "Ending the day at Cheyenne, Hampton Inn."   

4) If driving, keep your fuel level above half tank.

5) As you seek out your parked car, look around to be sure no one is approaching you. Look around and under the car. Unlock only as you near the door, glance in the back seat before entering and then enter quickly and immediately lock your doors. So many wait for the "automatic lock" to engage as a car is placed in gear. Those are vulnerable seconds for someone you may not want to join you!

4) Photocopy all items in your wallet and important travel documents - front and back. Keep the copies in a safe location at home. Or, take pictures of all your documents and store them on a secure website you can access from any computer.

5) Keep your valuables with you. Prepare for the worst with copies of documents and a special place for "secret" cash. Brandy recommends keeping your phone in one pocket and your keys in the other. That way if your purse is stolen, you can either call for help or leave the scene. She also shared that keeping your phone tucked away keeps your mind and senses more alert. 

6) When making hotel reservations, request floors 2 through 7.  Consider evacuation routes for safety, fire or storms. The ground floor makes you more susceptible for observation and window entry by another.

7) If you leave the hotel room, hang the "do not disturb" sign on your door and leave the TV on.You want to give the appearance that the room is occupied. A vacant appearing room is a target for thieves.

8) If you are traveling by yourself, always ask for two keys.Never volunteer information that you are solo. The hotel staff should never verbally state your room number so others might hear or lip read.  It's best if they write in on the paper key cover.

7) When you leave the room for any period of time, use the hotel's safe for important items. Secure technology you may not want to carry with you, especially your laptop. It's also a good place for original documents like your passport.

8) Spend extra money to stay safe. Instead of walking alone in an unknown area, use the hotel shuttle or taxi. Tip a bellman to walk you to your room if late at night or if there are long hallways to traverse.

Above all, remember to use common sense and heed your instincts. Stay safe and aware, and enjoy your travels.


Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch, Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best practices that have the power to increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. For more information and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at,

Full Rights Consent.  Jolene Brown LLC, West Branch, Iowa, USA, maintains full rights to utilize the content and/or format of all materials submitted by her for the website in any future speaking, writing, audio, video or electronic format.

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