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Dealing With Theft: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself as a Traveller

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Knowing how to protect yourself is the most important part of travelling.

It's not fun preparing yourself for the worst, but it sure is a better strategy than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

Here are ten simple and effective ways to protect yourself from theft while travelling.

1. Be less 'touristy'

Even if you clearly stand out amongst the locals, there are still ways you can tone it down.

Don't flash around your big, expensive camera. Don't ask strangers to take your photo with your phone/camera. Don't wear the touristy [insert local beer label] shirt with your flash new sunnies.

Just tone it all down.

2. Never carry all your cash on you

In fact, separate it all out into different compartments through several of your items - wallet, backpack, secret bag compartment, in a sock, anywhere you can find a safe spot.

Less money on your person means less to steal.

3. Carry important documents and cash in a small handbag close to you

I personally loathe money belts. I tried to love them but I just can't. Firstly, I think it's very obvious if you wear them around your waist so the 'hidden' aspect doesn't really work.

What I do instead is carry a small bag and put my hand on it when walking through crowds so it's not accessible to quick fingers. If it's exceptionally crowded I put my bag strap on under my shirt or jacket so it can't be snatched.

4. Never leave valuables in plain site in shared areas

Especially in dorm rooms or common areas where many people are passing by. Leaving your bag out can make it tempting for someone wandering by to take what they want.

If you don't have a locker, always hide valuables under your other items. That way someone would have to go through your entire bag to steal something which would make it fairly obvious.


5. Carry enough locks for all of your zippers

If you're on a long-haul bus ride you'll want to know your bag zippers are locked in case you fall asleep.

If you're prone to dozing off in public areas or layovers, bring some larger locks so you can secure your bag to an item of your clothing or around the arm of the chair. Then it can't be either opened or snatched away even if you're off-guard.

6. Be wary of friendly people touching you

Touching is a common distraction used by pickpockets. It's a way to get your attention and hold it while they, or their friend, steal from you.

Be open and be friendly to conversation, that's an important part of travelling, after all. But when people are being SUPER nice, hold your hand over your valuables so it's more difficult to take.

7. Plan in advance for ATM withdrawals

Don't withdrawal money when it's dark and few people are around. Someone may be watching you and they would be in the perfect position to mug you.

If you must go to the cash machine out of broad daylight, take someone with you.

8. Always use machines which are directly connected to a bank rather than stand alone

If your card gets swallowed by a foreign ATM you'll have an actual branch to go to to retrieve it.

Also, the more generic machines are the ones which tend to have card readers installed by thieves. Swiping your card through these can give them access to all your valuable information.

9. Look up the common scams in the area before you arrive

Scams are some of the biggest ways to lose items, and it's in plain sight! The only way to avoid them is to be prepared before you arrive.

You don't want to be paranoid, but by knowing the most common scams in the area you're visiting you'll have a better idea if someone is being genuinely friendly.

10. Be careful connecting to public wifi

One of the most common things I hear in cafés around the world is, "What's the wifi password?". I don't expect you to stop using free wifi, but be careful with what you access when you're connected.

I honestly didn't realise how serious this was until after my last 7-month trip.

Basically, if you log onto an unsecured network, everything you access while connected is put at risk. Bank details, email addresses, passwords, confidential work-related emails, everything.

I've recently added a plug-in to my Chrome Browser called HTTPS Everywhere. The 'S' stands for 'secure' and the plug-in automatically switches many sites from insecure "http" to secure "https". You'll feel better knowing you're protected against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking.


Dealing with theft can be tough while travelling, particularly when you worry about it so much.

But knowing and implementing these simple strategies will have you on the right path.

So next time you worry about theft while travelling, reread the suggestions above and know is that easy to be 100% better prepared.