When it comes to travelling there are plenty of stories about trips to beautiful places where everyone had a wonderful time. But there are also many stories that end on kind of a sour note, with money, valuable or everything stolen. While it is not always possible to avoid theft when travelling there are a few things you can do so it does not totally spoil your holiday.
There are definitely times when it is all but impossible to avoid theft affecting you. In cases where your life may be in danger, I would definitely prefer to lose a little money than my life. However, when it comes to crimes of opportunity there are definitely ways to avoid being targeted and reduce the overall impact of theft.
1. Stay Aware And Alert To Avoid Theft
There can be a big difference in your general awareness when you are at home in your own town, versus being in a foreign city. Travelling in a foreign city can often be a sensory overload for many people. The result is not paying nearly the same attention to the area immediately around you.
In addition to this, you will often find yourself in areas with a lot more people just because of the tourist draw of an area. Essentially, this creates the perfect situation for crimes of opportunity, such as pickpockets and those waiting for people to put down valuable items.
You put down your bag, just for a moment, to take a photo. When you turn back to pick it up, it just is not there. The thought that this would never happen to you, should be a wake up to just consider how you do things like this. Just think about where you put things and how much attention you pay to them.
It is not just your belongings to watch out for. In some ways, you always need to be aware of what is happening around. While you don’t want to be totally paranoid about every little thing. If the same stranger keeps popping up in the most unlikely of places.
The best approach is to look at how you handle your belongings? How do you move around a city? How you might be providing an opportunity for someone to do you harm? If you can in any way remove these opportunities you can help yourself to make your travel safer.
My Own Experience
Personally, I am someone that is generally fairly conscious of my surroundings. I notice many small details that many people miss, I cannot explain how I developed this, but it has been quite beneficial.
One evening while staying in Nice, France, I was walking in the general direction of my hotel. The street was nearly empty of people and I had planned to stop and photograph The Basilica of Notre Dame before heading back to the hotel for the night. I was just wandering along stopping and starting to look at different things along the way, but something felt off.
I had noticed that there was one other person that seemed to be matching my moves far too closely. They were not close to me but the speed they were moving was quite consistent to mine and they would stop moving when I did and continue when I would. I decided to test the theory and crossed the road with them following that move as well.
There is a chance that this was nothing, but there was also a chance that there was something more going on. I decided to make a beeline for the hotel and left it to take the photos of The Basilica of Notre Dame the following day. In this case, I preferred to take a precaution, even though nothing might have happened, but my theory is better safe than sorry.
2. Avoid Theft & Don’t Give It Away
So many thefts are not the result of an item being forcefully taken, but you allowing the item to be taken. I don’t mean that you have to offer your possessions to a thief, most people will say I never let them steal from me. However, if you don’t take some precautions to avoid theft you basically have let the item be stolen.
There are a few key things that I have found can help avoid or at least limit your chance of valuables being stolen. Consider that the easier it is for them to be directly accessed the easier it will be for someone looking for an opportunity to steal from you.
- You might feel comfortable keeping your wallet in your back pocket, but this is often the easier place to access for a thief. Consider a front pocket or something that will attach to your belt.
- Carry the smallest bag that you can, one which can be secured. A big bag that is open, makes it easy for someone to dip their hand in without you knowing.
- Always keep zips or latches on your bags closed. You might find it annoying to keep opening and closing it, but it definitely helps keep you a little more secure.
- Only take your valuables out when you need to. Try to avoid pulling a wallet full of cards or money out and digging through it in a public place. It is better to know what you have before leaving the hotel and being able to go straight to it when needed.
The Bag I Use
Having a great small bag to carry around when exploring a new city is a great option. The specific bag that I use is Kathmandu Transit RFID Deluxe v2. However, the specific version that I have is no longer available. But they have replaced it to the Kathmandu RFIDtech Pouch Deluxe which looks to be nearly the same except for some small design differences.
I find that it is great to carry everything that you might need during the day while out and exploring. Things like a map, tablet, notebook, pen and even a small camera. Plus it has places you can put your passport and credit cards where there is RFID blocking technology.
3. All Your Eggs
Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket
The above saying is something that can be very applicable to the times when you might be travelling. Even more so when it comes to things like cash and valuables. If you carry all of your cash and cards in the one wallet and that is lost or stolen, you have lost everything. However, if you take an approach to split up these sorts of things, you reduce the risk of losing everything.
The way in which you split up your cash and cards will vary depending on what your exact circumstances are. Mine solutions while travelling solo would be a little different for a couple or family travelling. There is also a difference depending on the different bags and such that you take.
While travelling I try and keep a minimal amount of cash in an easily accessible wallet along with one credit or money card. I would keep some additional cash or money in a money belt, pouch, or another bag I am carrying. Finally, I would keep the remainder of any cash or cards in the most secure place I can. Which might be a safe deposit box if I can get access to one where I am.
The biggest challenge that I face is on the days that I am travelling. In these cases, you have to carry everything with you. While it does leave you a little more exposed, the idea that I have followed is to separate things as much as possible in the bags that I physically keep in my presence. I will still keep them split between a wallet, money belt and each bag I am carrying. But I never tempt fate by putting too much if anything into checked luggage.
Stay Safe And Avoid Theft
I sure hope that I have not given you second thoughts about travelling with this post. But do hope that I have encouraged you to be a little more proactive about the security of your valuables along the way. So I hope that you do enjoy your holiday and keep your valuables safe and avoid theft by taking some precautions along the way.