Mark Swanson oversees global logistics at Pacsafe as well as North American operations. Based in Seattle, as part of his job, he’s constantly traveling both around the USA and different parts of the world. Mark has visited 30 of America’s 50 states and been through much of Europe and Asia. Given Mark is always on the road, he’s often thinking about how to travel safe, smart and get the most out of his adventures. We sat down with Mark to get his top security tips for USA travel, plus some other great general advice for enjoying any trip.

We hope you get some nuggets of wisdom from this great interview…

Firstly Mark, what’s your favorite place to travel in America?

While not within the continental US, Hawaii is my favorite American state to visit.  Kauai, known as the garden isle, is my usual destination. The island has great beaches and the11-mile Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast is simply stunning.  

Closer to my home in Seattle, San Francisco would be my next favorite place because of the iconic views of Alcatraz Island and the bay bridges, diverse neighborhoods and of course the sourdough bread.

What are some safety tips you have when traveling in the USA?

The most basic thing is to always have your wits about you. It’s easy to let your guard down, especially if you’re an American traveling at ‘home’. While it’s fine to be relaxed and enjoy yourself, you still want to have a touch of caution in there too. 

Some other things I always recommend are: 

  •      Use the hotel safe (or one of these) for your valuables
  •      Keep your items within view
  •      Use RFID-blocking technology (like in Pacsafe products), and keep your ID (driver’s license or passport) with you at all times.
  •      Keep your bags in ‘pick-pocket-safe’ mode by locking zippers
  •      At night, stay in well-lit areas and if possible, be with a group.
  •      Know the locations of police stations
  •      Keep your cell phone charged and carry a power brick in case of emergency

What about your top travel tips for America in general?

If you’re traveling to get to a destination, don’t risk missing a connection with short airport layovers (under 90 minutes).  This can cause stress and can take a day off of your plans if you miss a connection. Choose non-stop flights when possible. If the journey itself is part of your itinerary, take a train and relax while seeing more along the way. 

If you’re going somewhere new, know the possible hotel or camping accommodations ahead of time. Either may require reservations depending upon the season. I like to search my destination on Youtube where you can find very well-done home videos from travelers. You get a preview and likely some good tips. While it may seem like you’ll lose spontaneity if you learn too much about a destination, getting your bearings ahead of time with some research will still leave you with plenty of discovery once you get there.

Traveling off-peak months is usually cheaper with a good chance of pleasant weather.  I prefer April/May and September/October.

Look for deals on excursion and event tickets on travel websites.

Finally, use public transportation. It’s usually cheap and easier than it may look. 

How can people get the most out of their American adventures?

Don’t try to jam too many things into each day.  Choose a main event or two and allow for some simple “wandering around time”.

Any parting philosophy for people on how they should approach travel in general?

People travel for different reasons and with varying levels of comfort and ambition.  Do what will allow you to get what you want out of a trip, whether being an observer or immersing yourself in the local culture.  I prefer a combination of both. Be comfortable and enjoy the view from beyond your own backyard. 

And finally, be a good guest and respectful of the residents and the environment.

Mark on his own safe travels…

 To check out Pacsafe’s range of anti-theft bags for some extra security on the road, head here.

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