That little girl who wanted to sell you a rose in Paris looked so innocent — until you realized that she was distracting you while her father picked your pocket! Unfortunately, this type of petty crime is all too common in popular tourist areas. Whether they’re fumbling through guidebooks or gawking at new sights, tourists are often unaware of their surroundings — making them easy prey.
A little bit of common sense, preparation and situational awareness can go a long way toward keeping yourself and your valuables safe on your next trip.
How should you keep your Valuables
Keep your valuables (money, credit/debit cards, passports & travel documents) under your control at all times. If you have an in-cabin safe, leave everything you don’t absolutely need in the safe. Carry with you only what is essential. However, when you are in a travel mode, carry your valuables on your person, in a money belt or pouch. Don’t carry anything valuable in a purse or backpack which are too easy to snatch.
Instead, use a money pouch that can be concealed under your clothing. Some attach to your belt, while others are worn around the neck, waist or calf. Choose one that is comfortable and practical for where you’re traveling. You can buy money belts and pouches at travel stores.
And pouches aren’t the only way to avoid theft. You can find some other really creative methods to hide your money. The key is to keep the valuables unobtrusive and on your person.
Try not to carry all of your valuables in the same place. If you’re traveling with a companion, make sure each of you has some cash and a credit card on hand in case you’re split up or one of you is robbed. If you’re alone, keep a backup credit or debit card in a separate pouch from the one you’ll be using most often.
While most valuables should be safely hidden away, you may want to keep a small amount of local currency in a separate decoy wallet where it’s easily accessible; that way you’re not flashing all your cash each time you want to make a purchase. If it’s stolen it won’t be a huge loss.
Another good tip is to make two copies of your passport, credit cards, ATM cards, plane tickets and traveler’s check serial numbers. Leave one copy at home with someone you can reach in an emergency. Keep the other set with you in a safe place separate from the originals.
Safety at the ATM
Protect your credit/debit cards at least as carefully as you would cash or other valuables.
Don’t let anyone waiting behind see you entering your PIN number.
Take your receipt with you.
Be aware of your surroundings. If the machine is poorly lit, or is in a hidden area, use another location.
If you are traveling with a companion, have them stand guard and observe the surroundings while you use the ATM.
Don’t count your cash while standing at the ATM.
If you are using an indoor ATM that requires your card to open the door, don’t let anyone in with you that you do not know.
When using a drive-through ATM, lock your car doors.
If you lose your ATM card, or it’s stolen, immediately report this to the financial institution that issued it.