More On Theft Prevention 101
Today I’m going to debrief you on all of the tips that I have for theft prevention. It’s one of my favorite topics to write about because it’s something that I find comes up a lot, and something that, as a globetrotter, I have a lot of experience with. While some of these tips may be more relevant to backpackers or women, I promise that there is something in here for everyone, so please keep reading.
The bottom line is that there is nothing that ruins a trip worse than being pickpocketed or robbed. Whether it is a camera, a passport, or a phone, the expense of such an occurrence can put a serious damper on your trip and sometimes even send it to a screeching halt.
Below I’m including some tips and some suggested purchases for your next big trip:
Get the perfect backpack
The perfect backpack is a serious investment for a lot of travelers. People can spend hours cross researching prices and warranties, looking for the right size, trying to find it in their favorite color. But what about safety? Safer backpacks should have a few features. For starters, a heavier material may weigh more, but it’s harder to cut through. Canvas or run proof nylon is best. Also, make sure that the zippers have fabric that folds over, this helps to prevent wandering hands from behind, an important feature on something that you can’t have your eyes fixed on 100% of the time.
Wear a money belt
Money belts can be bought at just about any travel store. For something relatively inexpensive, they can save you a lot of money later down the road. Money belts are designed to be worn discreetly under the clothes. There are a lot of jokes about their true level of dorkiness, and the jokes aren’t made in vain, but it can’t be denied they have a very functional purpose. When traveling internationally, I don’t like to pay the big fees that my bank charges me on my debit card, so I prefer to transport a substantial amount of money, stash it, and then change it over as needed. I would never be comfortable doing this without a money belt. I don’t even notice it’s there, it’s so comfortable. I feel comfortable sleeping with it on airplanes and buses, because I know that my money and cards are safe.
Locking it all up
I am a big lock person. I love them. I live in a rather precarious area of a major city in South America. This means three or four different locks on all of my doors at night, along with a New York lock (a chair against the door). Locks make me feel more secure. I recommend traveling with at least one spare lock. These are great for those instances where you need to rent a locker. Some places will charge separately for the space and the lock, so it can help you save some serious dough to have one of your own. Also, even if they offer locks, I always prefer to use my own. If it’s your lock, you don’t run the risk of an untrustworthy employee rummaging through your things. There is no reason for anyone at any point to have a key to your belongings. You can even buy a lock for your backpack. I have a great one that while really heavy, it’s also really effective. It’s essentially like wrapping a chain link fence around your bag and then attaching it to a telephone pole.
If you are considering travel insurance, take theft into account. A lot of insurances will cover you in the event of theft. If you have a plan already, ask your provider if you are covered.
Be conscious of your belongings
When walking in crowded areas or taking crowded public transportation, know where your things are. Keep your bag pulled in front of you or keep everything in your front pockets. If you can’t see your things, you can never be truly sure they are safe.
Don’t carry more than necessary
One of the easiest ways to prevent theft is to not make it possible. In other words, don’t carry anything other than the necessary on your person. If you don’t need your camera, don’t carry it on you. If you have cash, don’t bring a card. Instead of keeping your passport on you, keep a copy in your bag. If you do get robbed, it’s a lot easier to walk away with minimal disappointment if it’s just $50 and not all of your credit cards, passport, camera, and a substantial amount of money.
I know, your handbag is your life, so it just makes sense that you would be smart about the bag you carry with you when traveling. Having purses snatched or cut open is one of the most common forms of theft. Get a bag that zips shut. It is a lot more difficult for even the best of pickpockets to slide open a zipper rather than un-pop a button or fold back a flap without you noticing. Also, consider an over-the-shoulder bag. They are easier to keep pulled in front of you in situations such as public transit. If the bag is physically attached to your person it is a lot more difficult to grab and run. A couple bonus features would be a durable material like leather that is harder to cut through, or wire enhanced straps that prevent slashing-I first saw this in Nairobi where a lot of women feel that carrying them is an absolute necessity. I also prefer bags with lots of little inner compartments, ideally ones that zip shut as well. I keep my money and my cell phone zipped inside of a side compartment which is then zipped inside of my purse. Even if my bag were to be slashed, my cell phone and my wallet wouldn’t fall out.
Regardless of whether or not you take any or all of my advice, I would like to leave you with a quote from my father, a wise New Yorker. “The objective is not to make it impossible to steal your things, because that is not possible. The objective it to just make it more of a pain to steal your things, than the guy’s standing next to you.”
I like to take this time to thank Tina Spelling for helping me with this amazing article. Check out her works at www.tinastelling.com
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