How to Avoid Pickpockets When Travelling
The long awaited travel day is finally here. Your luggage is packed; flights booked, passport check, credit card company has been informed that you are traveling. Everything is in place. You are hoping for a fantastic trip with lots of fun, excitement and new experiences. Nobody goes for a trip bracing for the worst because you just want to unwind. But, unfortunately, sometimes you come back with not so pleasant memories that ruin the whole experience for you.
Well, the good thing is that you can also choose to be prepared and alert to avert any negative experiences that threaten to take out the fun out of your experience. We are not asking you to be paranoid, no. We simply advocate for a healthy amount of suspicion to always keep you one step ahead.
One common problem while traveling is pickpockets. It isn’t a violent crime, but it can be a great inconvenience losing money and other valuable items. Picture losing your passport; this will mean delayed travel plans, and that means you have to dig deeper into your pocket. If your credit card is lifted, the credit card agency has to be called to be warned to prevent identity fraud. After this, you have to go through the hassle of replacing the relevant documents which will create a huge cost for you in terms of money, time and worry.
Before you leave, consider the following to help you minimize the loss in case you fall victim to this petty theft.
- Make copies of important documents you plan to bring with you for the trip. Itinerary, passport, car rental voucher, rail pass, and extra passport pictures, etc.
- For backup purposes, leave some copies with your loved ones back home in case they need to send it to you.
- Backup digital pictures and files as well from electronic devices that you will need on your trip.
- Consider taking theft insurance for expensive electronics. Take a picture and leave it at home in case you need to claim the insurance.
- Leave your expensive bags, jewelry, etc., at home. Luxurious items are a great way to attract pickpocketers.
- File a police report.
A few other precautions are necessary to prevent finding yourself in this mess.
Use Traveler’s Checks
The best know of the traveler’s checks are the ones from American Express. If they get stolen, you can get them replaced at little or no charge. American Express has offices in most locations so it is easy to get replacement ones. If you need some cash, just cash an American Express check at any bank.
Use a money belt.
This is an elastic zippered pouch fastened to your body worn underneath your clothes. It is a convenient way to carry your money, passport, ID and other small valuable items. Some styles of the money belts include;
- Around the waist is the traditional money belt. It is worn under your shirt and waist.
- Around the neck which is easier to access; even better if you wear under button-up shirts.
- Belts with hidden in built pockets.
- Hidden pockets tuck into your pant legs. These are quite comfortable.
Leave valuables in your hotel room
It is safer to tuck them somewhere discreetly in your room. Some hotels have safes in the hotel room or at the front desk if that’s more comfortable for you. Any of these options is better than carrying them around.
Keep track of your items.
- Most travelers think they have been robbed while in essence, they just lost their items.
- Establish a habit of not setting down small items. Keep them tucked or firmly in your hand.
- Also, avoid placing your phone on the table top while in a restaurant.
- Stick to an unpacking routine at the hotel to avoid misplacing your items.
Firmly secure your bag
- Theft is made easier when a thief can separate you from your valuables. If you are traveling in a bus or train or you want to take a rest, a good idea should be to tie your luggage to yourself or your chair/seat.
- Consider sling backpacks as those stay close to your body. However, they might not be such a good idea if you plan to carry a lot of stuff with you.
- Wear your bag backward that way it’s easier to keep an eye on it.
- Keep the zipper on your bag locked at all times.
Avoid crowds or commotions
They provide a good distraction for thieves and an easy escape route. Be extremely vigilant if you happen to find yourself amidst a crowd.
Common Pickpocket Targets
- Flashy people
- Friendly and trusting people
- People with lots of luggage
- Asians especially the Chinese. Pickpockets consider them very wealthy. Some of them don’t have access to credit and debit cards, and so it is assumed they carry large amounts of cash with them.
Don’t let pickpockets spoil your fun. Just adhere to the above guidelines, and you are bound to have a memorable trip.