When we are planning our upcoming holiday travel, we have glorious images in our head of sitting on a palm-tree-laden beach with an umbrella drink in our hand, or taking a trip into medieval history by walking down the stony streets of an ancient walled city. Or by slogging through the humid jungles of the rainforest.
We dream of coming home filled with great new memories, heroic stories, and photos to match.
But never do we think that we would return filled with anguish and emotional pain. Knowing that we spent our hard-earned money to get us out of a jam. That we wasted so much vacation time waiting in the long lines in police stations and embassies. So many efforts to reach someone back home that could send us some emergency funds.
It all happened in the blink of an eye. Your dream vacation has turned into a nightmarish circus of recovery, and all you wanted to do was to find a way to end it all and get back to the safety of your own home.
So what kind of circumstance could possibly cause this kind of hellishness?
You were robbed. You were in a crowded area clicking away selfie after selfie, when someone picked your pocket, stole your wallet, snatched your purse. That’s all it took to shatter your dream, and make you wish you had never heard of that god-awful destination before.
An Ounce of Prevention… blah-blah-blah
When Ben Franklin said this, was he thinking about his own dream-filled vacation? Maybe, maybe not. But as over-used as this old saying is, it is still worth its weight in gold.
Travel is more popular now than ever before in the history of mankind. More planes move people around the globe on the click of a mouse. More entire economies have been built entirely upon the dollars of tourism than at any time in human history. This had made every corner of the globe accessible to everyone that has two pennies to rub together.
But it has also made a global haven for those that want to take advantage of the wondrously-distracted tourists that fall into their laps by the cruise ship-full. As throngs of visitors crowd into famous cities, town, and sites, the crooks find it simple to dart through crowds and snatch wallets and purses as they go. In the matter of seconds, they can grab a purse/wallet, clear it of its cash and cards, and toss it into a trash bin before moving to the next victim. Sometimes they can clear dozens of wallets in a single hour, without giving a thought as to the crisis they have created for their ‘marks.’ All they need is a crowd to slink through.
Print out this little list. You may already be taking some precautions before traveling. 3 cheers to your fabulous trip! But take a peek through this list anyway, just to make sure you have your bases covered. And if you have good ideas that should be added to this list, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know about it.
- Before departure, empty your wallet of all contents except the cash and few cards you may need on the trip. This will minimize the impact of a robbery.
- Take a photo of everything in your wallet; include your passport, health records, etc. Print out the photo and put it in your suitcase. And just for beans, email it to yourself so that you can access it from anywhere in the world.
- If you are married, go down to your local department store and purchase a really fun wedding band – costume jewelry, of course.
- Leave valuable jewelry home. Period.
- Get an inexpensive money belt to hold your cash and cards. Made of a thin fabric, they are lightweight and inexpensive, and can be purchased online or at a travel store.
- PROTECT YOUR PHONE! If someone steals your phone, they will not only have your home address, but they can access your social media accounts, your bank accounts, your credit cards, and perhaps even access your password vault as well. This could be more dangerous than stealing your wallet. How to protect your phone when traveling?
- Keep it passworded. A pain, I know. But a password can be a quick deterrent to a thief that would rather toss your phone and move on to an un-passworded phone for simplicity sake.
- Wear it on a lanyard that stays around your neck. Not only will a thief be unable to steal it out of your unsuspecting hands, but it will prevent you from accidentally leaving it somewhere without intention. And no matter the surrounding noise, you’ll always be able to hear it ring, AND it’ll always be handy so you won’t miss those quickly-fleeting photo opportunities.
- Carrying a cross-body purse will make it difficult to steal. A thief would rather move on to a person with a clutch purse or a backpack purse, than to waste time considering how to separate you from your purse. Also, a cross-body purse when worn at waist height, will naturally keep your arm covering the opening most of the time, creating one more level of security.
- Worried about purse slashers? Slash-proof purses are available from most places that sell travel items. Simply Google ‘Slash-proof purses’ to find one that suits your style.
- Don’t carry a backpack purse. I will personally testify to this one! My own wallet was stolen from my backpack purse in a large crowded city.
- Don’t carry your wallet in your rear pants pocket. Thieves are experts at knowing how to make it vanish without you ever feeling a thing!
Remember: In crowded environments, thieves will always choose the simple mark over the mark that could heighten their risk of getting caught.
As Mokokoma Mokhonoana once said, “It is impossible to know when you have prevented an accident.” Even if you are a seasoned expert traveler, taking the time to create your own personal safety shield will ensure that you will return home with new memories that far exceeded your original dreams.