Be Safe Out There, Part I

I’ve written on my blog and on Facebook about our recent experience at the DoubleTree Hotel in Dallas, where we spent one last night on the road on our way home from Art is You in Nashville. During the night, our vehicle was broken into and burglarized, something that’s never happened to either of us, ever. My husband has had a few things stolen by the kids at school–but what teacher hasn’t? Many years ago we had a window air conditioner stolen from our yard, which was fabulous: it had quit working, and we had removed it and set it aside to haul to the dump that weekend; someone saved us the trouble. But, on the whole, we’ve had excellent luck: we’ve driven through 45 states, staying at dozens, maybe hundreds, of hotels and motels, some of them in less-than-savory neighborhoods. In 2010, working on Destination Creativity, we traveled 20,000 miles, all without having anything vandalized or stolen.

And now this, virtually in our own backyard (well, if your backyard extends for 350 miles, but that’s Texas for you).

travel safety tips

We had traveled to Nashville to work: my husband was taking photos, and I was recording interviews, so we had a ton of stuff with us. We had taken the most valuable stuff into the room with us: three of my husband’s cameras, the MacBook and its paraphernalia, our two video cameras, our phones, wallets, etc. But we didn’t take everything: there was a wheeled camera bag with another camera and lenses and backup batteries and chargers. There was a bag with assorted stuff like card readers and back-up tripods. My iPod. My sewing bag with one-of-a-kind stuff in it. A leather bag that they must have thought was a purse but that had my journal and assorted books, including a library book I’ll have to pay for. A bunch of stuff they didn’t touch, like clothes and shoes. There was easily a couple thousand dollars worth of stuff taken, and it doesn’t look like we’ll get any of it back: I’m still waiting to hear from the hotel’s insurance company, and our own insurance isn’t helpful at all: Geico will cover up to $200 worth of stuff stolen out of a vehicle *after* a $200 deductible IF you provide receipts. What’s that? You pay $200, then dig until you find receipts, then get $200 back? Gee: does that seem like an iffy practice to anyone but me? Our homeowner’s policy is much the same: pay the deductible, provide the receipts, get back what you paid, maybe.

We filed a police report, and they sent a detective to take fingerprints and DNA

travel safety tips



(the burglar cut himself and bled on the seat and door)

Freeman-Zachery be safe blood

but it doesn’t look like anything will come of any of this, and in the process of it all, I got to thinking about all the artists I know who travel to art retreats and workshops all over the country. And you don’t have to go far–this is something you have to think about even if you’re just traveling across town with your stuff; the police officer told me that people do this for a living: you get up and go to work at your job; they get up and go out to find stuff to steal. They can break into a vehicle, take what they want, and be gone in less time than it takes you to go into Starbucks for a cup of coffee. Whoa.


On Wednesday, I’ll talk about some of the stuff you’re going to want to think about the next time you have to travel–stuff I had never thought about before and things others have told me in the aftermath of our own experience–and then on Friday, I’ll talk about being safe online: I spent most of one day thinking about this as I changed all my passwords because (duh) my iPod was stolen.


Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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