Whilst the chances remain small, you are clearly more prone to theft when travelling in a foreign country than if you stay at home. Having your wallet or purse snatched or your bag stolen is going to put a serious dampener on your enjoyment, so here are some tips to reduce the odds of falling victim to opportunistic crime while on the road.
Such theft can take several forms, and we’ve tried to address most of the more common ones here.
- Make your luggage stand out – thieves want to blend in and will often target regular-looking bags rather than anything more unique. You can add colourful labels or a complete bag cover; anything that makes your bag more visible in the crowd. This can also help you avoid another irritation that is not strictly theft but can feel very much like it – someone else taking your bag by mistake from the baggage belt.
- On the subject of baggage reclaim; try to get to the belt when the bags begin to appear so that you can ensure nobody swipes yours. In practice this is not always easy – especially if you have a long wait at immigration – but do your best. I should also reassure you that this kind of theft is extremely rare as it necessitates the crook having taken a flight themselves.
- Don’t check in valuables – keep your laptop, phone, camera equipment etc. in your carry-on. This may seem obvious but if you are travelling with a lot of electronics it can be tempting to stash some in your suitcase. Another good reason for not doing so is that some insurers will not pay out for high-cost gear that was packed in checked luggage.
- Keep alert – this applies throughout your trip. Try to avoid wandering around in an exhausted state; an extra hour or two in bed is better than cramming in an early museum visit and then not enjoying it anyway because you are half asleep – and vulnerable to a more awake pickpocket.
- Not really a tip on avoiding theft but it needs reiterating – never travel without insurance. Simple as that.
- Don’t keep all your valuables in one place – separate cash and cards, split money between pockets etc. If you do get robbed, hopefully you’ll not lose it all.
- Keep a second wallet with expired cards in it and your ‘real’ one hidden elsewhere – if you get into a situation where you are threatened, hand over the worthless one. Muggers want to make a quick getaway and will be convinced by the look of your fat wallet.
- Obviously, don’t keep wallets (real or otherwise) or phones in your back pocket.
- Don’t stop in the street and look at a map or guidebook – it’s a clear sign you are a tourist and probably lost. Go into a cafe or bar and read over a drink instead.
- Buy a secure bag – there are some amazing products out there right now which look like regular luggage but boast heightened security features. Just take a look at this stylish PacSafe shoulder bag for example.