Although violent crime is definitely less common in most nations outside of the United States, theft and other petty crimes are significantly more common in these areas — and there is no easier target for thieves than the many tourists that go abroad each year.
Through use of these tips on top of having common sense, you can easily avoid these attempts at theft while traveling, making your trip as enjoyable and carefree as possible.
Tip #1 – Think ahead
There are several tasks you can complete before leaving that will minimize your chances of encountering this problem and/or minimize your loss if you do unfortunately end up losing something or getting stolen from.
*Beforehand, you should make multiple photocopies of important documents. These can include:
– your passport information
-copies of both sides of credit/debit cards
*Also, if you know you need to bring high-end electronics with you during your travels (a laptop, camera, etc.), you may want to think about getting travel insurance for these just in case something happens to them.
*Lastly, if at all possible don’t use your fanciest name-brand luggage when traveling. Flashy luggage is like a bulls-eye to potential thieves, alerting them that you have money and other valuable things in that bag that could be worth stealing.
Crowds, especially on public transit and at flea markets, provide thieves with plenty of opportunities as well as easy escape routes. When people are crowded and bunched together, it is easy for one of them to slip a hand in your bag or pocket without you realizing. Here are some commonly used tricks to help you through these situations:
*If you find yourself in a large crowd of people, keep your belongings in front of your body and place a hand firmly over them if possible.
*One trick is to put twisty-ties or locks on the zippers or clasps on your bags. This dissuades thieves, as it will take greater effort to get your items out.
*Instead of carrying a large purse or wallet on you, consider using a money belt. These sit under your clothing and close to your body, making them much more difficult for thieves to get their hands on without you noticing. They are often small, but can easily hold cash, cards, and other small valuable items you need during your travels.
*Most commonly, train stations are problematic for tourists, as thieves know that people are often overwhelmed with their luggage and having to navigate their way to the train, making them more distracted than normal. If you are with a group, take turns watching over your bags so as to avoid items getting stolen.
Within the same realm, there is often a commotion that creates the crowd itself. Be very wary of such large and disruptive actions that captivate attention, as they are often smokescreens created by gangs of thieves intended to distract you so they can better pickpocket or request money from victims.
Tip #3- Secure your valuables
*Whether staying in a hostel or a hotel, there is often the option to lock up your valuables in a locker or safe. This is ideal for travelers, as it allows you to feel more safe and secure when you leave your belongings in your room, and allows you to not have these items with you as you are walking the streets of a new city.
*As alluded to earlier, even making your bags more difficult to steal is an effective way to avoid theft. When dining or riding public transit, loop your leg or arm around your bag strap so thieves can’t run off with your bag easily. Also secure zippers with locks or ties.
Tip #4 – Pay attention
*Take note of tourist hot-spots within the city you are traveling, as these are often the most frequented spots for both travelers and thieves alike. Always be aware of who is around you and where your bag/wallet is at all times when in these places. Not being distracted is ultimately the best way to avoid being stolen from.
*If you find yourself exploring a city at night, make sure to try and blend in as best as possible. Whatever you do, shy away from being glued to your phone or being noticeably lost. Thieves look for these characteristics in possible victims.
*There are many street acts in large cities that rely on scamming tourists to get money, whether its asking to take a picture with you and then requesting money or simply begging for money. It is best to either walk by quickly or vehemently shake your head, and you shouldn’t be bothered.
With these tips, you should feel more comfortable and safe while abroad. Planning ahead and knowing how to deal with possible theft or scams will allow you to enjoy your experience that much more.