By Melanie Speicher -

NEW ORLEANS — You’ve arrived at vacation location, checked into your hotel and now you’re ready to explore the area. What’s the first thing you need to do?

“Don’t look like a tourist,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, who is attending the National Sheriff’s Association convention this week in New Orleans. “Not everyone in the city you’re visiting wants to help you or for you to have a good time.”

Lenhart said when out sightseeing, you should dress comfortably.

“Make sure you’re wearing your walking shoes and they’re broken in properly,” said Lenhart.

Leave your expensive jewelry in the hotel safe, he advises.

“Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches,” said Lenhart. “That makes you a target for thieves. You can wear your wedding ring, but if your engagement ring is a large diamond ring, keep it in the safe at the hotel.”

If you’ve leased a vehicle for your vacation, make sure you always park it well-lit area.

“Park by lights even in the daytime,” said Lenhart. “If you’re in a parking lot, park near the street and under the lights. You’ll be better protected.”

If you’re going to use a cab for travel about the city, Lenhart said you should get your cab at the hotel instead of trying to flag one down yourself.

“The folks at the hotel know the good cab companies to use,” he said. “They can also get you tips on what sights to see.”

Lenhart also cautions against excessive drinking while on vacation.

“Avoid excessive drinking,” he said. “That just makes you a target. Also, don’t leave your drinks — whether it’s an alcoholic drink or a soft drink — unattended.”

He also encourages everyone to obey the rules for pedestrians.

“Don’t jaywalk,” said Lenhart. “As I tell my wife and daughter, you’re not in Sidney or Jackson Center. Pay attention to the pedestrian signals. And don’t text while you’re crossing the street.”

And if you’re on vacation with young children or your grandchildren, make sure you supervise them as you’re walking through the city.

“Don’t carry excessive cash,” said Lenhart. “Put your money or wallet in your front pocket. Women should carry their purses across their bodies with the zipper toward you.”

Lenhart said you should not give money to street people or beggars.

“They’re just going to use the money to buy drugs,” said Lenhart. “If you open your purse or take money out of your pocket, that’s just a temptation for them to steal from you.

“In bigger cities, such as New Orleans, there are all kinds of chapels where you can give your money,” he said.

Lenhart said if you purchasing an item from a street vendor, you should use cash.

“You should always guard your personal data such as what hotel you’re staying at and your credit card number,” said Lenhart. “Don’t let them rush you into a purchase. Go by the old saying, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t a good deal.”

Technology can also be useful on your trip, he said.

“Use the apps on your phone a lot,” said Lenhart. “It can tell you how to get from one location to another. It’ll tell you how many blocks or feet away your destination is.”

Lenhart also urges travelers to know the areas where they will be visiting.

“Stay out of the bad neighborhoods,” said Lenhart. “Get briefed on the areas which you don’t want to go into.

“In New Orleans, Bourbon Street in the daytime is the time I would visit that area,” said Lenhart. “At night, there’s too much for the eyes to see. There are a lot of street people, panhandlers and adult strip joints.”

As with all travel tips, Lenhart said, the biggest one is to “use your common sense.”

“If it doesn’t look right, or your instinct is telling it’s not right, then the situation is probably not right. If you have a problem, talk to the local police.

“Use your common sense, be safe and have fun,” he said.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.