We’ve all heard the horror stories – tales of tourists robbed on holiday, bereft of their cash, credit cards and luggage. It’s so easy to forget to stay alert while on vacation, especially when we’re in a destination that’s perhaps not as safe as it is back home. Here are some tips to avoid having the kibosh put on your holiday by some nasty marauders and to avoid spending time in foreign police stations, filing reports and contacting your travel insurance when you could be sitting by a pool, sipping a cocktail or visiting a gorgeous world heritage site.
Bags, wallets and cameras:
1) When on vacation, opt for a sling bag that you could wear across your body. Do not rest your bag on your hip or at your back but instead carry it in front of you to avoid adroit thieves slipping their hands into your bag or cutting through the material with a knife to get at the contents. To avoid bag snatches, rest your arm gently on your bag or on the bag strap at all times – but don’t clutch at your bag in a conspicuous manner because that could signal to thieves that there’s something valuable in there!
2) When seated, do not leave your bag on the back of your chair, on the ground or on the table – someone might just pass by casually and snatch up the bag before breaking into a run – a very common thing to happen in many countries.
3)Do not carry your camera on a strap around your neck – that’s like flashing a big neon sign for the world to see. ‘Hi! I’m a tourist! Rob me!’
4) Instead, keep your bag in an inconspicuous camera bag or pouch. Many people have DSLR cameras these days and opt to put them in a large camera bag which is just as bad as wearing your camera around your neck. There are plenty of stylish, padded bags these days in which you could carry your camera – they’re pretty popular with fashion bloggers because these bags are pretty, chic, secure enough to carry expensive, fragile cameras and won’t signal to the world that you have a massive DSLR that savvy robbers could steal and re-sell. And it could come in handy for tucking in a few other items like lip gloss, your hotel key and money too.
5) Having said that – minimalism is the key when it comes to your bag contents. Before you leave on vacation, rifle through your bag and wallet and take out everything you wouldn’t need – store cards, discount cards, restaurant chain cards or credit cards that you won’t use on your trip. If you’re carrying large amount s of cash, divide your money and keep little amounts in separate places while on your trip – that way, if you’re robbed or have misplaced a bag, you won’t lose all your cash.
6) Just like your everyday bag, use an inconspicuous sturdy suitcase when checking in, rather than an obvious luxury suitcase that would tempt any lurkers around the baggage carousel.
1) Never dress like a tourist – do your research before your trip to find out what locals wear at your holiday destination so you could dress to blend in. Avoid ‘tourist-obvious’ clothes like socks and sandals and Hawaiian shirts – these clothes don’t look good on anyone anyway, so I don’t even know why you’re doing this to yourself.
2) Avoid extravagant dressing – keep the expensive jewellery and designer clothes at home, instead of on your trip.
3) And this isn’t so much safety as it is cultural awareness – research clothing customs and dress appropriately when you’re visiting foreign countries. Some places like historic churches, mosques or temples will turn away tourists if they’re not modestly dressed. Locals will gawk at foreigners who stand out in a mile in their inappropriate clothing – and standing out as a foreigner will attract thieves too.
Public awareness: A few things to keep in mind while on holiday.
- Do not talk about your travel plans to strangers or in public areas where others might be listening in.
- Be vague about your travel plans on social media where strangers could take notes on when you’ll be away or where you’re going.
- Always look around you – be aware of your surroundings and anyone standing close by or approaching, even when/most especially when in an obviously tourist area where tourists are most likely to be busy taking pictures or observing the sights instead of looking out for robbers.
- Do your research about safe and unsafe areas around your holiday destinations.
- Do not leave drinks unattended. You’d think is is pretty much a given anywhere, but it’s unbelievable how many people are careless about their drinks, leaving them open to a possible spiked incident, especially when on holiday.