Tips, Tricks, Packing, Points & More
"We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office" - Aesop
You are at your most vulnerable when traveling…out of your element, not knowing your way around and you are carrying all of your worldly possessions…you are a perfect target for a thief. My husband believed that, because he is obviously handicapped, no one would rob him…until he was robbed in Australia at a McDonalds. It happens everywhere…just google scams in <any> city and you will get a list: the ring scam, the bracelet scam, the bird poop scam…I know people who have been victims of them all. There are also just the plain old pickpockets and dirty rotten scoundrels (I’m talking to you Rome cab driver!). Even my travel hero, Rick Steves, who, after years of teaching people how to outsmart pickpockets, was pickpocketed! Read on for some tips on how to avoid it, or at least not let it ruin you vacation...
If you are not weighed down by a lot of luggage, struggling thru stations and airports, you are less likely to be distracted by your stuff and get robbed. And never, ever take your eye off of your things.
Hold on to your things
Don't drape your purse over the back of a chair or put it under your chair, hold on to your luggage all the time even when it's inconvenient...it will be much more inconvenient to have to replace your passport and credit cards. My friend was at dinner with her husband and left her purse at the table with her husband while she went to the bathroom...her husband got distracted talking to someone at another table and when she got back her purse was gone.
Pretend you know what you are doing/where you are going…even if you don’t.
If you look vulnerable, you are more likely to be targeted. My daughter and I came across people in some train stations in Europe, dressed in what looks like a uniform, with a “name badge” just waiting to “help” you. This doesn't mean there aren't nice people willing to help you...just hang on to your wallet.
Don’t let your guard down
Wherever tourists gather there are people just waiting to rob you, but you can also get robbed at the neighborhood McDonalds. Tim turned his back on his briefcase to move his scooter and when he turned back around his briefcase was gone.
Separate your valuables
Just keep a small amount of cash and a credit card handy and keep the rest of your cash and your passport in a money belt. It's also a good idea to put a card with your contact information in each piece of luggage you have...not just your checked pieces.
Use a money belt
I know they are uncomfortable, but I cannot tell you how safe I felt when my daughter and I got surrounded by a group of pickpockets in Pisa…as they were grabbing at my purse I knew most of our valuables were safe.
Use a cross body travel purse that locks and don’t carry it on the traffic side of the street
They may not be the most attractive but they will give you peace of mind. Keep your purse, whatever type you decide to use, to the inside (building side) of the sidewalk to thwart motor scooter thieves from grabbing it and driving off.
Use a RFID blocking wallet/purse
Keep your credit cards and passport information safe from electronic thieves.
Don’t drink too much
You are an even easier mark when you are out partying. And partaking in illegal activities in a foreign land...you would be lucky to just get robbed.
Know where you are going when taking a taxi and how much it should cost
Taxi scams are a dime a dozen…even after the extensive research I did on taking taxis from the Rome train station, my daughter and I still got a rogue taxi from the legit taxi stand! First, his meter "malfunctioned", then he attempted to drop us off several blocks from our apartment, I showed him on Google maps where we were to be (he tried to tell me he couldn’t drive on the streets leading to our apt) I also called our Airbnb host who let him have it. When he tried to overcharge us I gave him what I had expected to pay and got his taxi licence number.
Bring a backup ATM and credit card
You may not get robbed but could lose one or the ATM could eat it. Make sure you are using credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees...don't let your own credit card rob you.
Most importantly...Don’t let any of this stop you from traveling
You can just as easily get robbed at home…you may as well get out there and visit the places you want to see before it's too late.