People always ask us... how do you avoid theft when you travel?
I always say I'll go almost anywhere... and that's true.
We do avoid the hot spots of the world, however.
Still, people worry when they are planning a trip to a foreign place.
Is it safe there? ...or...
Aren't there a lot of pickpockets?
And "there" could be any place from New York to Paris to Rome... or to...
Rio or Antananarivo! What you have to do when you travel is to just always try to practice ways to avoid theft. Stay alert and be smart about your actions.
We had friends who were experienced travelers tell us about losing their passport and driver's license as well as their money in South America.
She was carrying all of this in her purse. At dinner, she hung her purse over the back of her chair in a restaurant. How many times have you seen people doing this?
At the end of dinner, she went to put her purse safely back around her neck.... but it was gone.
She shouldn't have hung her purse over the chair...
When we're sitting in restaurants or crowded train terminals or any public place, we try always keep an eye on our belongings. You can't do this if it is hanging on the back of a chair. Put your bag under the table, between your feet... or secure a strap under the leg of a chair... anything to make it harder to snatch.
Even more importantly, she shouldn't have had all of her valuables in her purse!
The first thing we tell people when they ask advice about traveling is to wear a money belt.
One of those zippered nylon pouches that fits under your clothes.
Keep your passport, most of your money, and credit
cards in there. That way you can avoid theft, and you won't end up like
Marks favorite travel shirts have a deep, zippered pocket that he can use for credit cards when we want them out.
The pockets are big enough for your passport too in case you're crossing borders in out of the way places.
You can find pants and shirts with similar hidden pocket.
Rio de Janeiro is supposed to have lots of pickpockets.
When we were there, we wore well-worn clothes and no jewelry.
We did stand out from the bikini-clad beach crowd, but we weren't targets.
We read about a tourist who had been mugged and had his gold chains stolen...
After the first theft, he went and bought more gold chains and wore them to the beach. Know what happened?
Of course you do... he had them stolen again. Why temp thieves?
They're better off in your hotel room... BUT...
Don't leave cameras and valuables lying around in your hotel room
Keep them locked away out of sight....
locked in your bags,
locked in the room safe, or
locked in the hotel lobby safe.
Hotel rooms are safe enough, but why provide temptation?
They thrive in crowded places, but that's not the only place they can strike.
We were in an empty Paris metro station waiting for a train. We had just arrived, and we had our luggage with us. As the train came in, my hubby said he'd get both suitcases.
As soon as his hands were full, two men appeared out of no where and brushed up against him.
Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket.
Well, my hubby had his wallet in his front pocket (with fat rubberbands to make it harder to get it out), and he clamped his arms against his side....
I yelled and asked them what they were doing... in English since this was the "heat of the battle". When they figured there was too much attention being called to them, and they weren't going to get anything, they said, "Sorry, wrong platform." In English. Yea... right!
We foiled a pickpocket trying to unzip our daypack in a crowded market in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
We had nothing of value in that daypack.... it was all in our moneybelts.
Yelling at him sent him melting into the crowd, but it just goes to show, that even when you are alert, they can sneak up on you.
If you have a rental car, don't leave maps and suitcases visible in the car. That's a sure sign that you're a tourist and you have valuables in the car.
Don't leave valuables in the car at all at night.
Rental cars sometimes have special license plates or decals that give them away... nothing you can do about that, so hide things away. We've even heard some travelers say they buy a local newspaper and leave it on a seat.
I think some people travel in a state of suspended reality! Just because you're on vacation, doesn't mean theives are.
With a few common sense precautions and just staying alert, you should be able to avoid theft on your travels.
It's much better to enjoy one more afternoon sightseeing than is is to spend it reporting a theft.