I thought I’d share this as a big knock on wood, since I have yet to be robbed in any of my adventures abroad. I tend to be a worry wort, which effectively makes me hard to rob. Here’s a handful of my top tips!
DO: Have emergency contact information
Write down before hand (in more places than one) the numbers for the local police and closest embassy/consulate. This information can easily be found online after a couple of searches. If you’re American, enroll in the State Department’s “STEP” program to stay up to date with security alerts and other pertinent information in the areas you will be visiting/living.
DON’T: Keep all your valuables in the same spot
GUILTY. I generally throw everything in my bag, with the exception of my phone and transport card. I do however, keep my forms of payment (cards, cash, checks, etc.) separated from one another. And I have back up forms of identification. One caveat: don’t spread yourself so thin it’s hard to keep track of it all. Have two or three spots where you can comfortably carry your important items (or share them among more than one person).
DO: Use precautions (layers)
Even though I usually toss all my stuff in my bag, I keep them inside ANOTHER bag, inside my bag. This gives layering a whole ‘nother meaning. By layering your items, it makes it harder for someone to reach in your bag and blindly grab something. Additionally, I don’t keep valuables in the farthest pocket on my backpack since it’s the most accessible to a pickpocket.
DON’T: Fall for the tourist scams!
Your best form of prevention is EDUCATION. This overview (from Pinterest) is the best compilation I have found. I would have included it directly, but the image is too big for the webpage.
DO: Check your valuables often
Like all good conductors, you should know that everyone is still on board. I overdo it, so I recommend you check after every time you come in close contact with a large group of people (metro, security check, restaurant, etc.). Find what suits your level of
paranoia caution and roll with it.
DON’T: Check your valuables in the middle of the “Attention, pickpockets may be around you. Please keep an eye on your belongings.” announcement
These announcements can be counter productive because all the tourists immediately reach for their pockets to verify they still have their wallet / valuables. Doing so shows near by pickpockets exactly where you’ve put the goods. If you’ve checked on them recently, your stuff is probably alright.
DO: Try to have versatility with cash vs card
If it’s over $50 (USD), be prudent and swipe your card; don’t flash the cash. In reverse – if it’s less than $50 (USD) and you’re paying with cash, don’t whip out a Benjamin Franklin. If an ATM gives me large bills, I go to a local bank and exchange for smaller bills. Every bank I’ve been to (knock on wood) has had an employee who spoke proficient English.
If all else fails, have common sense.
If you have any tips on how to avoid being pickpocketed, drop a comment below!