Travelling is an awesome way to experience all that this world has to offer, You get to see amazing places, Meet new interesting people and experience different cultures. However unfortunately it is not always flowers and sunshine. There are many perils that travellers can encounter that can put a dampen on your holiday fun or even put an end to your trip entirely.
One such Peril is being robbed. While sometimes being the victim of a robbery is just bad luck. In many cases it can be avoided or at the the very least effects minimized. If you have some common sense, Pay attention, Don’t flaunt your valuables or walk around shady parts of town by yourself (especially after dark) You should be fine.
I was lucky enough that during my 4.5 months travelling through Latin America I was never the victim of a robbery (Except that time in Ecuador where a one handed monkey stole some candy from my bag). In some way’s I consider this lucky, in other’s its because I followed some of these tricks to ensure my belongings were safe.
1.Leave your valuables locked up in hostel
If you are staying in a dorm room in a hostel that has lockers YOU SHOULD USE THEM! It may sound like a no brainer but on countless occasion I’d see people leaving their macbooks and other valuables out on their bed’s while they went out or even just laying next to them while they slept. Take the time to lock up your stuff.
2. Carry a decoy phone and wallet
While I never had to use these I always carried a decoy wallet that had a little bit of cash and some old debit cards as well as a crappy mobile phone that I carried (That I would usually use when out drinking).
While I didn’t always carry these, However when I was in area’s I knew had a bad reputation for robberies or on night bus’s through shady area’s I had these in my pocket. My reasoning was that If someone robbed a bus and asked everyone to hand over their wallet and phone I could hadn these over and maybe have a chance of escaping with my other precious valuables tucked away in my money belt in my pants.
I am guessing there is a level of danger associated with this one because if the robber catch’s you out that you are not giving them everything you have etc it could result in them being annoyed, Try at own risk
3.Be wary of where you store hand luggage on bus’s
A common story I heard from other travellers was that while on bus’s people had their bags stolen from overhead compartments or even had their bags cut and valuables stolen when sitting them on the floor at their feet. To combat this you can leave your bag on your lap, It may not be the most comfortable solution but it does help prevent your bag from being stolen.
While I was travelling I would lock my carry on bag and ensure that I had the strap wrapped around my arms, So even if I fell asleep on a night bus it would still be very hard to steal my bag.
4.Split up your cards
When you are travelling besides your passport your bank cards are probably the most important thing that you travel with. When I first started preparing for my first trip to Latin America I remember reading an article from another blogger saying that you should treat your cards like one is the president and one is the vice president. They should never be in the same spot, It’s a good idea to keep your cards in two different places that way if you lose your wallet or your day pack. I would usually hide one of my bank cards in a random place in my pack.
5.always have emergency money stash
In the event of you not being able get access to an ATM or your cards go missing it’s a great idea to keep some emergency money stashed somewhere in your bag. I usually carried about $200 USD in my backpack when travelling Latin America and it helped me out on numerous occasions when I was in small town’s where I couldn’t get access to an ATM.
6.Look like you don’t have money
When travelling especially when in poorer countries it’s probably best not to be wearing your gold earrings,necklace,rings or rollex watches. Stick to simple jewellery or none at all to avoid attracting the attention of thieves.
7. When out drinking just take cash
Gettting pickpocketed,robbed or just generally losing your things is much more likely to happen when your intoxicated. A good habit I picking up when out drinking was to only take the amount of cash I needed for a good night out, including enough for a cab ride home. This not only helped me keep to my budget but also meant that if I did lose my wallet all i’d lose is the money I was out with.
8. Use a money belt
One of most common way’s of being robbed is being pickpocketed, Having your passport,bank cards, money and even SD cards safely in a money belt tucked into front of your pants is a great way to keep your essential items safe, especially when on long overnight bus’s.
I generally only wore a money belt when travelling on long bus’s or during those time’s where I was carrying everything I owned between hostels.
9. Use a cheap phone and or camera when out drinking.
The most common way I heard of backpackers losing or breaking their Iphones was leaving them in cabs when out drinking or having them stolen, So why take them out to a club? Most of the time you don’t even have wifi or data enabled so leave them safely locked away in your locker. If you really want to take out a phone buy a cheap one and put your sim card in that.
The same applies to buying a cheap $30 drunk party cam that you can take out. If you end up coming home at the end of the night with your cheap phone and party cam stolen or lost it’s not the end of the world. Where losing your main camera for the trip due to a drunken night out can really be a pain in the ass,.
10. Don’t store anything that’s really valuable in your main pack on bus’s
I heard numerous stories when travelling through Latin America of people having their main backpack’s rummaged through while on long overnight bus’s or even in a couple of cases people having their whole backpack’s stolen. Why this is still very rare once you give your bag over to be stored underneath or on top of the bus it goes out of sight and anything could happen.
So keep your valuables in your carry on day pack where you can keep an eye on it.
What tips or tricks do use to keep tour items safe while travelling? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.