It’s almost vacation time – and that means many of us will be hitting airports to start out on what should be an exciting journey. Make sure it doesn’t all go awry before you even get started because of some of the hazards you face either in your departure or arrival airport. Here are the key things to be on the alert for:

Ø  Rip-off money changing. You’re not likely to get the best rates at an airport but some currency services are much worse than others. For instance, ATMs that offer to issue foreign currency when you insert your debit card, or scruffy-looking money-changing booths at foreign airports usually signal a poor exchange rate. Change your money before you go or look for a big-name bank near the arrival airport.

Ø  Shopping rip-offs. These days even duty-free shopping is not the bargain it used to be, but souvenir shops are even worse. In fact, many things you want to buy for your journey will likely cost more at the airport. Include water in that calculation. You can’t bring your own water and take it through security but you can take an empty bottle and fill it at a fountain when you’re on the flight side.

Ø  Eating right. What could be worse than an upset stomach because of over-indulgence at an airport restaurant? Finding healthy food can be a challenge, says the non-profit organization Eat Right. Plus, airport meals are often expensive. Consider preparing and packing food in advance for your journey. Or at least research airport eating facilities before you leave so you know where to head for the best food.

Ø  Taxis. If you haven’t pre-arranged your airport transfer, only use vehicles parked on the official airport taxi stand. Ignore anyone who tries to grab your suitcase before you even get to the stand – usually with some sort of line about offering cheaper or faster services.

Ø  Guard your luggage. Have a plan for who-will-carry-what and keep hold of luggage at all time, whether you’re in the line for the flight desk or crossing the concourse trying to view the flight departure tables. Don’t allow children to carry anything that’s either valuable or too big. Also, watch your pockets – airports are a pick-pocket’s idea of paradise.

Ø  Personal security. Take the time to check escape routes wherever you happen to be at the airport in case there’s an incident or an evacuation order.

Ø  Solicitors. Give a wide berth to those time-share vendors and people handing out other come-ons like scratch cards or flyers.

This is part of the Park Family Insurance ongoing education series for Roseville Home Insurance and Rocklin Home Insurance, prevention is key!