Nothing will ruin your trip quicker than being the victim of a pickpocket. I personally learned my lesson when my phone was stolen during a staged rush on the metro in Athens. So I’d like to share a few tips to help you have a happy and safe trip:
Tip #1 Blend In
The local pickpocket is after tourists. Why? because tourists are distracted by their surroundings and they carry lots of cash. Keep the expensive jewellery and bags at home, and try to blend in more. If you plan on walking around with a backpack, don’t sew a flag on it. Flags scream “tourist”.
Tip #2 Be Aware of Scams
I could write a whole other post on pickpocket scams. Just trust me when I say:
- Don’t stop and talk to a stranger who points out some bird poop on your shoulder (it’s a scam to get you to take off your jacket or backpack
- Refuse to sign a petition (it’s a scam to occupy your hands and therefore taking them off your bag)
- Refuse a local trying to give you a gold ring he/she just found on the ground (it’s a scam to get you to give them a small amount of money for it, and thereby exposing your wallet).
- Don’t let anyone pull you over on the highway (it’s a scam to get you out of your car, possibly to check a flat tire, while the car is being robbed)
Tip #3 Separate Your Items
Don’t keep your credit cards, debit card, passport and cash all in one place. If you separate your items, at least if you do get robbed, you’ll have an emergency stash tucked away. During your excursions, keep your passport and the bulk of your cash plus a spare credit card in the hotel safe. If you have to take it all with you, then use a money belt under your clothes, and carry only what you’ll need that day in your bag.
Tip #4 Carry a Secure, Lockable Bag
I recently bought the Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag, which has lockable zippers and anti-slash material in the body of the bag as well as the strap. The inside has RFID protection as well. It’s a cute bag with a water bottle holder on the outside. great for day trips.
Pacsafe also makes anti-theft bags for both men and women, in an assortment of sizes and styles.
Tip #5 Don’t put your phone or wallet on the table
A pickpocket could try and distract you by acting like a fellow tourist needing directions. This scam involves opening a map over your belongings while his hand creeps underneath to swipe your stuff. A bolder pickpocket could actually just run by, grab it, and disappear into the crowd.
Tip #6 Email Yourself
Before you leave on your trip, email yourself all the important information you’ll need regarding your credit cards and passport. If your card is stolen, you’ll need the phone number to report and cancel it right away. Having a copy of your passport available online could also be useful.
So there you have it. I hope with these tips you can relax a bit more and enjoy your travels. If you have a tip to avoid the pickpocket, please share it in the comments below.
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