You are enjoying another day in Venice, gorgeous sun and pigeons everywhere. You sit down to snap a photo of the Bridge of Sighs—and your wallet is gone! Newbie tourists and weathered travelers alike can fall victim to pickpocketing or other forms of minor crime. Here are some tips on how to prevent it:
– Wear a money belt. More subtle and secure than a waist pouch, money belts are designed to be worn under your clothes. You can wear it in the front of your jeans, in the small of your back, or slung diagonally across your chest. This is comfortable way to keep your mind at ease and your money away from any potential pickpockets. Keep some emergency cash in major bills, bank cards, and passport here. Make sure it’s thin enough not to be seen through your clothes.
– If you are swimming, never keep your valuables on the beach or poolside. Secure them in a hotel’s safety deposit box before you go out, or ask the front desk to watch over them for you.
– Avoid crowds when possible, especially around train stations and tourist traps. Most thieves thrive in these environments of confusion and can spot your inattention and the non-oriented. When you are in these situations keep a low profile; your valuables tucked away out of sight in closed, zipped bags, in a monochrome suitcase that isn’t dressed up in colors. When sleeping on a train or in an airport, make sure your valuables are clipped securely or even under yourself. Always make physical contact with your items.
– Familiarize yourself with the seedy parts of town so you know where they are and how to avoid them. Chances are as a tourist, you will keep to major sights and highlights on the travel path. But if you ever venture off of this beaten road, keep in mind the areas that even locals tend to avoid. In big cities, these areas are well-known, so ask your agent or a local.
– Rental cars are typically a target of robbery. Your exposed valuables don’t belong in the back seat! You can usually avoid this by keeping valuables in the covered trunk or your hotel room. Try to make the car appear local by not leaving anything that might identify you as a tourist—maps, tickets, English books. Ask your travel agent about theft insurance.
– Keep copies of your travel documents, passport, vouchers and tickets in secure locations away from the originals. Keep another set of these copies at home. Scan these and email to yourself so you can access them anytime from an internet café or hotel overseas.
– If you ever feel threatened or are the victim of a crime, contact a policeman or security officer at once. Contact an embassy or consulate.
Note: Trip Insurance usually requires a police report to be filed on site before accepting a claim. Make sure that you report the theft or other crime as soon as you notice one.
Crimes against tourists are typically avoidable. Keep your head above water and be extra vigilant if you are traveling solo. Don’t let a few unfortunate events prevent you from enjoying your trip—just take a few extra measures and be aware of your surroundings. The most valuable thing you can take with you is your BRAIN and street smarts! 🙂