The Packing Mistake That Will Put Your Car And Luggage At Risk For Theft

Let's face it. Things can sometimes go wrong on a road trip, no matter where you're headed. And while you can't control everything (we're talking about inclement weather and traffic jams), you can plan and proceed cautiously for the best possible outcome. Not standing out as a tourist, being aware of your surroundings, and planning are all excellent safety precautions, whether on an international or domestic trip. 

You also want to protect your belongings, including your car and luggage, when parking out of town. Car break-ins, often called smash-and-grabs, have increased in popular tourist cities. They usually happen at iconic travel destinations where thieves look for opportunities to take what they can from parked vehicles.

By avoiding the road trip mistake of obvious luggage that can make your car vulnerable to theft and mark you as a tourist, you can minimize your risk and put your time and vacay energy into checking out an iconic roadside attraction on Route 66 or taking in a once-in-a-lifetime international coastal view instead of filling out a police report. 

Be in the know

Who hasn't been overwhelmed by packing? Especially for a road trip. Even if you don't bring those extra shoes and all the books you want to read on vacation, items add up, especially if you're traveling in a group. Ideally, you don't need to travel with your precious family heirlooms and wads of cash. Still, the practical aspects of travel often include bringing documents like passports and bigger items such as camping and camera equipment. Add the excitement of hitting the road; it can be overwhelming to think about keeping your luggage and car safe.

A quick search on your phone about the destinations you're headed to can give you the inside scoop on what areas are like safety-wise. Some iconic photo-ops are prime targets for car break-ins, and knowing the risks can help you make informed decisions. You can also ask at your hotel, message your Airbnb host, check in with any in-town family members or friends, or hit up a local for information on safety about where you're headed.

Tips for keeping your car safe

Keeping yourself safe on a road trip is always the number one priority. Concealing flashy and expensive items from plain sight and showing large amounts of cash can put you at risk. A belt bag can be a good option, and if you're traveling with multiple people, consider dividing up valuables among yourselves.

License plates can be an easy giveaway if you're an out-of-towner. Store any large items, such as suitcases, in the trunk while ensuring all doors are locked and the car alarm is activated, if available. If you cannot place everything in the trunk, pack a dark-colored blanket to cover items — it can double-duty on a chilly night at the beach or in a drafty room. Clear the console of change, maps, and other things that may beckon attention. Keeping the car neat not only creates a more pleasant ride but also discourages any incentive for a smash-and-grab.

Budget travel, especially on a road trip, can be a challenge. But sometimes, shelling out will save you in the long run. Ideally, a paid parking lot will be well-lit, in a secure enclosed area, patrolled by security, and monitored with cameras. While they may not always be an option, look for as many features as possible and trust your gut. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy the ride and all the stops in between.