Safety & Security: How to Avoid Travel Theft & Pickpockets
Safety and security while traveling is something everyone should concern themselves with. Losing your passport, cash, credit cards and other valuables can put a serious damper on any holiday. Being prepared and aware cannot only save your happiness on a trip, but will help you travel with confidence. This is especially important as travelers ease into everyday experiences where it’s easy to drop our guard. In all of the countries I have visited on four continents, I have never been pick pocketed. That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried. As a matter of fact, I consider it a cultural experience when I feel sticky fingers in my pockets. Here is my fool proof way of avoiding pickpockets and outsmarting thieves during any trip.
Wear a Money Belt
For me, the undisputed way to outsmart thieves and pickpockets is to wear an undercover security belt commonly referred to as a money belt. They come in various shapes and sizes and are designed to be worn underneath your clothes. You put it on in the morning and just forget about it. Just like your underwear! Consider this your safe deposit box and only reach into it for select withdrawals and deposits. You should have petty cash for the day in your purse or wallet.
Use a Hotel Safe Wisely
If you have a reliable safe in your hotel room, you can store your money belt in the safe and carry one credit card and petty cash for the day. In my experience, hotel safes in 4* or 5* hotels are pretty reliable. All travelers should trust their instincts regarding how reliable hotel safes truly are. If you really want to test it out, call downstairs and pretend you “forgot” the combination. Also, do not put anything of value inside the safe without testing it out first.
Carry Your Purse with Confidence
My mom, and other experienced women travelers I know, have been carrying a purse during their trips for years. The goal is to not carry anything of extreme value inside your purse. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For reduced risk, only carry the necessary petty cash for that day in your purse. For added security, carry your purse across your body. All of your valuables should be in your money belt, either on your body (under your clothes) or in your reliable hotel safe.
Travel Smart with Men’s Wallets
Do not carry all of your cash and credit cards in your wallet. Travel wallets should have RFID protection (if your cards have chips inside of them) and only carry the necessities for that day: petty cash and maybe one credit card. All other valuables should be in your money belt, either on your body (under your clothes) or in your reliable hotel safe. We’ve all heard that men’s wallets should be in the front pocket when traveling. But, we are all creatures of habit and it will eventually return to the back pocket. Be sure to purchase a wallet with a rubber band around it. That will provide friction in your back pocket.
Be Aware of Surroundings and Try to Blend In
If you have a death grip on your purse or wear flashy jewelry in bad parts of town you will stand out. If you are the loud foreigner on public transportation you will draw attention to yourself (and to your valuables). Pulling out the guidebook or huge paper map in front of a busy monument makes the thieves eyes go straight to you. Also, dressing like you are on Safari (khaki cargo pants and the double pocket fly fishing shirt) while trying to go out to dinner in Paris is not the way to blend in to your surroundings. The big white trainers (sneakers) are the classic tell-tale tourist uniform for most American’s over 50. Avoid any of the above and try your best to blend in. Also, don’t let your guard down when your are in crowded areas. Wherever there are travelers and tourists, there will be pickpockets working their route.