Nobody likes to be pickpocketed or mugged. Unfortunately, travelers are easy targets for thieves. Here are some tips to help you avoid being a victim, and to minimize your losses if you do get robbed. The world isn’t a dark scary place, but following these simple tips can reduce the small risk and give you peace of mind.
1. Never travel with anything that you aren’t willing to lose.
2. Guys: Your back pockets don’t exist. Keep your wallet in your front left pocket.
3. Girls: Use a zippered purse that goes over your shoulder and let it rest forward of your hip, not behind. Bonus points for choosing thick material, such as leather, that can’t easily be slashed with a knife.
4. Separate your credit card and debit card. Never carry both. Accessing your money abroad becomes a serious problem if you lose both.
5. When going out, bring only cash and one form of ID. An easy trick is to have a money clip just for going out that is separate from the rest of your wallet valuables.
6. In crowded places (such as train stations), wear your backpack facing forward.
7. When standing in packed buses and subways, keep your hands in your pockets.
8. In semi-crowded areas that seem risky, let your thumbs graze your side pockets as your arms swing naturally while walking. This way you feel your phone/wallet/keys with every step and will immediately notice if something goes missing.
9. Get TSA approved locks for at least one compartment of your backpack (make sure your backpack has double zippers or you can’t use a lock!)
10. Hostel lockers. Use them.
11. Put your cash in your shoes after an ATM visit.
12. On planes and buses, always carry on your valuables (especially overnight buses with multiple stops!)
13. Act like you know what you are doing. Never stop in the middle of a plaza to look at a map. Move into a less obvious place and lean against a wall so nobody can sneak up behind you.
14. Don’t leave your electronics unattended in hostels. Leaving your laptop on your bed or in a common area to charge makes it easy for someone to swipe on their way to check out.
15. Lock your passport in your room. Many people refuse to let their passport out of their sight, and even carry it on a money belt at all times, but personally, I think the odds of someone smashing your lock with bolt cutters in your hostel room are much smaller than the odds of your passport slipping out of your pocket or you forgetting your money belt after taking a swim.