Don't Let Disaster Ruin Your Trip: Tips for Safe Vacations

Tips: Look for infestations: examine corner seams on mattresses. You're looking for tiny black spots. If you see any, get another room. Hotels are aware of the problem and do what they can to combat the creatures, but understand that these days bed bugs are not necessarily a sign of bad housekeeping.

Be Careful of New "Friends": Keep your hotel room your own personal space. When traveling solo, do not issue open invitations to that intriguing person you "met" on a dating site. You might be meeting up with a thief or worse.

Contact the hotel and the police if you've been ripped off. Don't let embarrassment keep you from protecting the next unsuspecting victim.

Tips: Use common sense: when meeting strangers in a strange city, go to a public place in daylight hours. In your hotel, don't answer the door (unless you know who's there). In the bar, take a tip from acclaimed journalist and world traveler Nicholas Kristof, who says when presented with pre-poured drinks in "rough" parts of the world (and that could be anywhere), simply "switch them with your host, cheerfully explaining: 'This is an American good luck ritual!'"

Onboard Emergency: This will probably never happen in a million years, but just in case a flight attendant asks you to assume the brace position (as happened with the folks who landed in the Hudson last January), know what to do.

Tips: Follow the crew's commands. If you can't hear, the brace position typically means sitting as far back in your seat as possible (seat belt on), with feet flat on the floor in front of your seat. Have your chin on your chest and bend forward with your arms around your legs.

And when you are told to get up and get out, do so, taking nothing.

Now, remember our young friend who left his backpack on the train? Well here's a nod to the integrity of the people with Germany's rail system: the backpack was eventually found by a maintenance employee -- with all contents intact.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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