• Jim Leach


Please take a minute to review these simple tips to make your summer vacation safer and more enjoyable. This is an article publish with several news publications a short while ago and is a sample of my upcoming book, Simply Safer”, due to be in print in September and available on

Have a great summer!


Have you ever noticed how it’s the “little things” that cause the biggest problems? The best trip in the world can be ruined by “little things” that could have been taken care of with just a bit of attention and planning!

When traveling by automobile such things as breaking down or having to gas up in a bad area can not only scare you but may get you hurt..

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good shape – Check all fluid levels, belts and tires

  • When you get to about ¼ tank of gas, stop and get some more gas! You know you must have it, so be sure you can choose where you must stop

  • Travel known routes and let someone know the route you are taking as well as a description of your vehicle and when you should reach your destination

  • Do your best to travel in daytime hours

  • If you do breakdown, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE! Police will be around soon – If someone stops to help do not open your door, keep it locked and only open your window enough to speak with them – Ask them to call the police. It is OK to raise your car hood or tie a cloth to your antenna, but don’t open your trunk lid because this keeps you from seeing what’s coming up behind you! Remember to get well off the roadway

  • Watch for signs which give you phone numbers to call for help. Almost all interstate highways and some secondary roads have them.

  • Hotels and Motels:

  • Don’t leave valuables in your car. Utilize hotel safes or lock boxes if need be

  • Avoid first floor rooms with outside entrances

  • If your room requires using an elevator, try and get a room as close to the elevator as possible so you don’t have to walk down unprotected hallways

  • Be sure and use all bolt locks and latches so your room cannot be accessed from the outside. Keep doors (including sliding doors) and windows closed and locked at all times.

  • Make sure your door has a “peephole” so you can see who is at the door but don’t rely completely on seeing someone outside who looks “OK”. Demand to know who they are, what they want, and verify this before opening the door.

  • Don’t leave valuables in your room when you leave. Not only may they be stolen but this may also lead a thief to believe you have more and wait for you to return!

  • If you check in late at night or for any reason feel uncomfortable, ask hotel staff to escort you to your room. Also, if you feel someone is watching you go to your room, don’t stop there! Walk past it and try and find a hotel employee or security to notify them of what you think is happening. Be careful not to let a potential stalker get into an elevator or stairway with you!

  • Always use the lobby entrance after dark

  • Keep your room key in your possession at all times. If you lose or

  • misplace it, request a new one or a lock or access code change!

  • Protect Your Money!!

  • Carry only as much money as you need plus a small amount for the unexpected

  • Separate your money – Carry it in different places or give part of it to a companion

  • On extended trips utilize travelers’ checks

  • DON’T let ANYONE see you with large amounts of cash!

  • While You’re Gone..

  • Make it look like someone is at home when you are gone. Use timing devices to turn on lights, TV, etc..

  • If you left a vehicle at home, ask a neighbor to move it every so often

  • Have paper and mail deliveries stopped

  • Leave an extra house key with a friend or neighbor. DO NOT hide it around a door!

  • Leave blinds, curtains and shades in their normal position

  • Let someone know the dates of your trip, the route your will be taking, who will be with you, your vehicle description (if driving), and contact information

The author, Jim Leach, formerly served as Director of Criminal Investigations for the Tennessee Highway Patrol. His first book, “You Can Tell ME, a simple guide to effective interviewing”, can be found at

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