By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — With winter weather settled over the state of Ohio, many residents are thinking about the sunny beaches in Florida as a winter vacation spot.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is offering a few winter travel trips for an upcoming trip outside Ohio.

“To have a successful winter travel vacation, you must successfully navigate your travel plans to avoid the snow and ice,” said Lenhart. “If you are making plans to travel by air, try to schedule your flight for first thing in the morning. If you have to have a connecting flight, plan to land at an airport in Atlanta or Charleston instead of Chicago or Denver.

“If you’re flying out in the morning, you’ll know if your flight is on time. We have numerous airports close to us — Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and Detroit. You’ll usually be able to get on a nonstop flight from one of these airports,” he said.

If bad weather stops your flight from taking off on time, he said, then you might have trouble making your connecting flight.

“If the morning flight is canceled, then it’ll make rearranging your travel plans easier,” he said. “You’ll also be able to consider alternate airports to travel from.”

When you arrive at the airport, he said, long-term parking for your vehicle might be where you’ll head first.

“They’ll give you a slip of where your car is parked,” said Lenhart. “I always put the information in my phone of where the car is parked, just in case I lose the slip they’ve given me.”

Inside the airport, the traveler, he said, will have to go through a security checkpoint.

“If you do a lot of traveling, you can buy a security pass so you don’t have to go through the checkpoint. I think it’s $75 for the pass and it’s money well spent if you fly a lot.”

If you do have to go through a checkpoint, you’ll need two forms of identification,” said Lenhart. “Make copies of your ID and make a copy of your passport. Store them in two different places so if you lose one, you’ll still have a copy.

“Also streamline your wallet,” he said. “Only carry two credit cards with you and put them in two separate places so if one gets stolen, you’ll still have one credit card. Leave your debit card at home.”

Lenhart said as a traveler is walking through the airport to get from point A to point B, they need to be aware of who is around them.

“That’s a good place for a crime to happen,” said Lenhart. “Whether it’s a pickpocket or you lose your luggage.

“Watch everyone around you and help the security guard do their job. If you hear a conversation that causes concern for you, tell the security guard.”

When planning your vacation, don’t advertise it on social media such as Facebook.

“That’s just an invitation for a crime to happen back home,” he said. “When you are at your vacation location, don’t advertise it on Facebook or Twitter.”

When traveling, he said, keep your valuables with you at all times. Don’t put them in your luggage which is going into the storage area of the plane.

“If your luggage gets lost, then you’ve lost you valuables,” he said. “Once you arrive at the hotel, use their safe to store your valuables.”

When renting a vehicle for your vacation, make sure you check it both inside and out, said Lenhart.

“We rented a vehicle in Florida once,” he said. “We opened up the armrest and there were used needles in it. We had to return to the car rental agency and get a new car. They will inspect the car for dents and dings and you need to take a good look at it too.”

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.