By Jesusegun Alagbe
The Federal Government on Wednesday declared next Monday and Tuesday, and 3 Jan as public holidays – which means many Nigerians will be travelling interstate to spend the Christmas and New Year with their loved ones.
However, with the state of the country in terms of insecurity and bad roads, it is advisable to take some precautions during the course of travelling.
The following are, therefore, some safety tips to adhere to while travelling during the holidays:
Secure your home before travelling
If you have a security system installed in your home, ensure that it is working properly, including all alarms, motion detectors, cameras, and other monitoring equipment. Check with your alarm monitoring company for any last-minute safety tips for your security system. If you have a DIY home security system with optional monitoring, consider adding monitoring to your plan for the month in which you’ll be travelling. Have someone check on your home periodically while you are away, especially if you are leaving on a long trip.
If driving, have your car inspected and/or serviced
One of the most common issues that travellers experience during the holidays is car trouble. Being stuck on a side of the road during these days can be dangerous due to insecurity on many highways in the country.
To help deter some of these incidents, have your car inspected during your travel and carry out any necessary maintenance, particularly on your tyres, which need to be properly inflated for the drive.
Also, have in your car an emergency kit with necessary tools such as a spare tyre, carjack, and jumper cables in case you run into any car trouble.
Plan the drive ahead of time, and know alternate routes
As with travel at any other time of year, extensive planning ensures that you are prepared for whatever might happen during your trip. If you’re driving down a highway and hit construction, a road closing, or severe traffic, it’s important to not only know your route but to also know alternate routes so you feel confident in where you’re going at all times.
Also, if you want to avoid traffic, plan to leave at a specific time when you might be able to drive through that area before or after peak traffic times. A GPS navigation system can be a huge help when it comes to staying on track, avoiding road closures, or finding your way back to the main road if you get lost.
Only take what you need for the trip and where possible, leave valuable jewellery, clothing and other items at home. While you should leave unnecessary valuables at home while travelling, it’s important to know how to keep important items as protected as possible.
If you’re travelling via a commercial vehicle or plane, do not leave your valuable items like jewellery in checked bags. They should be in your possession. It is also ideal to have a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This will come in handy if your checked bag gets missing or stolen.
Communicate with family/friends during your trip
As you plan to make that trip, it is also important you tell family and friends about your travel plans and share your itinerary with them beforehand. Make plans for how family, friends and acquaintances can contact you while you’re away. Check-in periodically with family/friends as a basic precaution.
During your vacation, you may change hotels, get on a cab or use other means of transport. You can always share your location with family and friends using the share location feature of services like Google Maps. If you’re using any cab/ride-hailing service like Uber or Bolt, you should also share your trip with a few family members or friends.
Never carry a lot of cash on you while travelling
Avoid carrying and using too much cash while travelling for the Christmas or New Year vacation. Always keep a small separate amount hidden somewhere on your person in case of an emergency. Avoid carrying valuables such as smartphones, tablets, laptops or expensive cameras when travelling unless it is necessary.
Also, don’t draw unnecessary attention while on vacation. Maintain a low profile and avoid obvious displays of wealth.
Keep your phone charged
You never know when you might experience car troubles and where you might be when that happens, so having a mobile phone is crucial for utmost safety. Having a cell phone means having the ability to call for help with your car or for a taxi or other type of ride to get you to a safe location.
Along with your cell phone, you also need to carry a phone charger or power bank along to be able to keep the battery topped up.