16 Tips to Outwit Thieves when you Travel

16 February 2013
16 Tips to Outwit Thieves when you Travel
Tips to Outwit Thieves when you Travel

Many travelers worry about theft when they’re traveling, and purse-snatching, pickpocketing, and muggings are all much more common in places where tourists gather – even back home.

It’s important to remember, however, that thieves very much prefer an easy target. If you’re jetlagged, dragging a designer bag, and loaded down with jewelry and expensive clothing, you’re gonna stick out like a beacon to thieves.

By transforming yourself into a not-so-easy target you’re much less likely to robbed, and if you are robbed, you’re much less likely to be in a spot where you can’t recover.

Here are 16 tips to outsmart thieves when you travel: 6 are pre-trip tips and 9 are tips you can implement while on your trip, and 1 is critical when you return.

6 Pre-trip steps to minimize your losses

One of the best ways to avoid travel theft is by limiting your vulnerability rather than putting limits on your travel plans.

Prior to your trip, take some smart steps to minimize your loss in case of theft:

  1. Have photocopies of key documents – your passport ID page, rail passes, travel insurance documents, etc.
  2. Spread out your credit cards and cash – don’t carry all of it in one spot and keep one credit card separated from all the others (this is your backup).
  3. Don’t copy your bank cards – use this much better system instead.
  4. If you’re carrying expensive electronics, get theft coverage on them through your homeowner’s policy back home.
  5. Leave anything expensive or irreplaceable at home and pack in boring luggage (thieves are attracted to those designer bags – they’re very re-sellable).
  6. Photograph the contents of your luggage (it may help if it’s necessary to make a claim).

Now, let’s move on to how to protect yourself while on your trip.

9 Tips to avoid travel theft on your trip

While on your trip, exercise adequate discretion to limit the crimes of convenience, and avoid putting yourself into risky positions and your travel should be about as dangerous as a trip to the supermarket. Don’t travel in fear, just be cautious and aware.

Here are the tips to implement while on your trip to limit your risk of theft:

  1. Be on guard in airport terminals, train stations, and the like – especially on arrival when you’re overburdened with luggage and locationally confused.
  2. Wear a money belt or some other form of hidden pouch where your key documents, primary stash of cash, and back up credit card are carried.
  3. Consider carrying a fake wallet as a decoy.
  4. Lock your valuables in the hotel room or rental car. This is for the expensive gear you couldn’t leave behind but don’t need during the day (like your laptop). Lock it in a safe or secure it to an immovable object, like the toilet.
  5. Establish methods to ensure you don’t lose stuff. Travelers often inadvertently lose their purses, passports, wallets, bags, etc. simply by being distracted and not having a system of double-checking.
  6. Keep your bags securely closed and the zippers zipped up. Seems silly, but it makes your bag less easy to rob than that other guy’s bag, for example.
  7. Steer clear of commotions and distractions – these are at worst intended as a smokescreen for thieves and at least an easy opportunity to steal while you’re distracted.
  8. Stay vigilant in crowds anywhere, but especially on public transportation, street markets, and outdoor eating establishments – anywhere there is an easy escape route.
  9. Be careful getting into, out of, and riding in taxis.

And a tip to outwit thieves when you’re back home

The one tip to outwith thieves when you get back home is to keep a close eye on the accounts linked to the cards you used on your trip. Sometimes your credit card number will be sold and you’ll see strange purchases show up after you return – when you’re least expecting it.

One last thing …

One final thing to remember is to keep it in perspective. So you let your guard down and a scoundrel ran off with your camera – it’s not the end of the world.

Sure, it ruined your day, you lost a bunch of perfect shots, and you have to buy a new one. On the other hand and depending on where you’re traveling, the thief may sell it for a week’s worth of living expenses and feed their family. You go home, make a claim on your insurance, and it’s all good. Not perfect, but good.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.