Prevent Pickpockets and Travel Worry-Free with These 10 Easy Tips

By Isabel Leong, Alumna, SMU School of Social Sciences

New to travelling? Travelling alone for the first time? Travelling long distance? Here are 10 tips to help tide you through the pre-travel anxiety!

 

Quick List: 

1. Limit the number of luggage to bring.

2. Worried about not having a cabin-sized luggage to carry on your smaller travels?

3. All the worries about pickpocketing, THEY ARE TRUE, no matter where you go.

4. Save all your documents in Dropbox, synced to your phone, and AVAILABLE OFFLINE.

5. NEVER keep your room keys in your check-in luggage.

6. Do not keep your wallet or phones in your pockets, not even in the front pocket.

7. Pickpockets work best in crowded places.

8. While kindness in strangers exist, like in the case when I was Couchsurfing in Europe, don’t take dubious acts of kindness for granted.

9. Portable chargers are a must, especially if you use your phone for navigation.

10. My last piece of advice: BE BOLD.

1. Limit the number of luggage to bring.

There are always roads too rocky and stairs too long when you are carrying so much load. Don’t take lifts and escalators for granted because not every city has them. The last thing you want is to forget about your second luggage or put up with angry commuters at the metro when you block the passageway.

2. Worried about not having a cabin-sized luggage to carry on your smaller travels?

There are 2 options:

  • Buy a smaller luggage when you’ve settled down. A cabin-sized luggage costs approximately 25£ in London or 30€ at supermarkets.
  • Carry a backpack when you leave your home country, on top of your main luggage. Your backpack can then serve as a cabin baggage when making shorter travels.

3. All the worries about pickpocketing, THEY ARE TRUE, no matter where you go.

To guard against them, carry a small pouch bag with you to store important documents like your passport, boarding pass, wallet and phone. Keep it in your sight, in front of you, and ZIPPED. When you are carrying a big backpack and lugging a bulky luggage, all you want is somewhere easily reachable when you need to pull out your phone swiftly to check for directions. Don’t risk putting your belongings in a bag behind you.

4. Save all your documents in Dropbox, synced to your phone, and AVAILABLE OFFLINE.

In the event of emergencies, you can retrieve it easily. Trust me, you don’t want to be detained at the airport when you fail to produce your visa.

These apps for people living abroad are also especially helpful as you commute around a foreign country.

5. NEVER keep your room keys in your check-in luggage.

On the rare occasion that my boyfriend decided to check in his backpack on our trip from Milos to Athens, the crew had to forget to load all the passengers’ baggage on the plane when they took off. We almost missed our connecting flight from Athens as a result of our missing baggage, and came close to being homeless that night. There, there. Lesson learnt.

6. Do not keep your wallet or phones in your pockets, not even in the front pocket.

Pant pockets are the prime spots for pickpockets. Those pickpockets can be really skilful.

 

Isabel in New York City

New York City

7. Pickpockets work best in crowded places.

I’ve had my rear touched in a crowded metro in Prague once before. They get their act done when everyone is within close proximity to each other. Their hot spots are at metro or bus stations, in metros or buses, and crowded shopping squares (think La Rambla in Barcelona).

8. While kindness in strangers exist, like in the case when I was Couchsurfing in Europe,  don’t take dubious acts of kindness for granted.

If someone offers you a drink (even if it’s tea), or offers to bring you around, they may be in it for your money. Once, a local boy from Cambodia put a snake around my neck and offered to take photo of me. He then conveniently stretched his hand out to ask for a fee. Local boy – 1, Isabel – 0.

 

9. Portable chargers are a must, especially if you use your phone for navigation.

For some of the travel apps I use, check this post out. Bring a spare phone if you have. It will save you lots of hassle should you misplace your phone.

10. My last piece of advice: BE BOLD.

Go with an open mind. Learn a new language. Get out of your comfort zone. Be around people of a different crowd. Don’t stick to the same people. Take pictures. Wander aimlessly. GO WITHOUT INTERNET. Sit at park benches. Do nothing. Enjoy your surroundings. Witness the different phases of the moon. Commit precious moments to memory. Smell the flowers of spring. Do something you never would have done back in your home country. Say hello to a stranger, hold the hand of someone you don’t know and dance like no one’s watching.

 

This article was originally published on Bel Around the World and has been republished with permission.

Click here to learn more about global exposure opportunities at SMU.

 

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