Don’t Be an Easy Target – Travel Smart!
“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.”
– Kay Redfield Jamison
Maybe you’ve heard the stories: about the tourist whose purse was ripped off her shoulder by a speeding vespa…about the male tourist distracted by begging children while an accomplice deftly picked his pocket … about a nicely dressed passerby who offered to take a honeymooning couple’s photo and then took off with their camera…
We’re so excited to be on vacation, we let our guard down or maybe we’re tired and get a little careless or distracted. Maybe we were trusting or naive. Whatever the case, unsuspecting tourists are routinely targeted and ripped off.
It can happen to the most experienced traveler, but if you incorporate these preventive steps into your travel planning, you can avoid being a target:
Before You Leave Home:
- Do your homework: Research your destination. Avoid areas considered unsafe for tourists BEFORE you go and be sure you book accommodations in safe locations.
- Put ID labels/tags on EVERYthing.
- Pack to blend in: Dress, act and behave like those around you. Don’t be conspicuous in your dress or behavior. Check current magazines or the web for hints on appropriate fashion/attire.
- Don’t bring or wear expensive jewelry/watches. My rule of thumb: don’t bring or wear anything you aren’t willing to lose.
- Make copies of your passport, ID’s and all of the debit/credit cards you will be taking and their 800/international customer service contact info. Leave a copy with a trusted relative/friend and bring (at least) two copies with you. Put one copy in your room safe and one hidden in your luggage.
- Alert your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling and where. (Some don’t require this but I do it anyway so it’s noted in my file.)
- Leave your fanny packs, back packs and those things you wear around your neck at home. They scream TOURIST!
$$ and Belongings:
- Be a creature of habit: Put things in the same place e.g., wallet, eyeglasses, room key (leave with the front desk if possible), id’s, etc. (Ladies, you don’t need different handbags with every outfit!)
- Carry purses with straps that wrap diagonally across the chest and carry wallets in front pockets (preferably with zippers or buttons). Consider having “pockets” sewn into the waistband of your pants/skirts.
- Don’t display wallets, lots of cash (or credit cards) or room keys.
- Use ATM’s in safe locations, preferably in the lobby of a bank. Have your travel partner watch your back until your transaction is complete and you have put your card and money away.
- Keep small change easily available for small purchases, toilets so you don’t have to open your purse and wallet all the time.
- Know how much money you are carrying and, if possible, just bring enough for the day leaving the rest in a safe or hidden.
- Do NOT leave valuables, purses, luggage, totes – anything – untended…not even “just for a second”.
- If you’re driving/renting a car, ALWAYS put all the valuables out of sight and ALWAYS lock the doors.
When You’re Out and About:
- Stay in well-populated public areas.
- Be vigilant in crowded places,e.g., plazas, on public transportation, tourist sites, churches, festivals, concerts, museums, markets, and other crowded events. While you’re admiring the view, someone may be admiring your wallet!
- Don’t load yourself down with too much stuff. Try to stay “hands free”, it’s too easy to lose track of belongings if you’re always juggling them.
- When sitting at a table or bar, never set your purse, camera, smartphone or anything else of value on a table or on a chair where it could be stolen. Never hang anything over the back of your chair; put it in your lap or drape the strap across your legs under the table.
- Always look like you know where you are going. If you feel you are lost, stop for some refreshment or step into a hotel lobby or doorway to get your bearings.
- Don’t stand in the middle of a walkway, street, etc., looking lost or confused or digging into your purse or tote.
- Don’t wander off by yourself! Whether you’re traveling solo, with a friend or family, or with a group, be sure that someone knows where you are going! Have a back up plan on where to meet in case you get separated.
- Carry a business card or information of some sort from your accommodation so that, if you get lost or disoriented, you have it for reference.
- If you carry a smartphone, enter your accommodation information into your contact list.
And above all… Use common sense!!
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What useful TipZ can you share about how you plan your trips and vacations? Please share!