Getting robbed is never fun, but I feel particularly stupid that my iPod was stolen from my bag by a pickpocket yesterday. I wasn’t following any of the security measures that I know I should have been paying attention to … and it’s all basic stuff.
However, it does give us a very relevant topic for today’s podcast. We’ve talked about security and your Personal Area Network before, but I think security, especially from hotel theft and pickpocket activity, is something that can’t be talked about enough.
1. In your main bag
Wherever you’re staying, it’s a good idea to keep as much of your stuff in your bag at all times. If you’re staying with people, this keeps things nice and tidy, and if you’re in a hostel you can lock up your bag. Try to put valuable gear in the same place each time so you know where to find it and so that you’re instantly aware if something goes missing.
2. Hostel safe
If you’re staying with relatives or couchsurfers, your stuff should be relatively secure, just don’t leave valuables in plain sight. In a hostel or hotel though, your best bet is to make use of the safe. Store your electronics and extra cash there, and your passport if you’re in a country where you don’t need it with you all the time.
I used a money belt for many years, and liked the feeling of security it gave me. I kept my passport, credit card and spare cash in the money belt. These pouches are really useful but it’s important to keep it totally hidden – don’t keep going into and out of it. Have a coin purse in your pocket with your daily cash in it, and go to the toilet or into a bank if you need to access more. We’ve found neck pouches quite uncomfortable and the strap is a lot more visible.
You can also get belts with a hidden travel money pouch, and it’s always a good idea to have a secret stash somewhere.
4. Your day bag
If you can’t be bothered with a money belt, your day bag is a good alternative – just watch it very carefully. Put valuables right down the bottom, keep it locked if possible, and never put anything of value in the front pocket (this was my mistake). The idea is to make it difficult for a pickpocket or bag-slasher to get your most important items. If it’s a backpack, keep the zips zipped right to the side, not to the top, as a grab and pull could completely open it. You’re usually okay to wear it on your back, but flip it to the front when you’re in dangerous areas. The same goes for shoulder bags – wear them at the front.
WorldNomads.com provides great value global travel insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online, even if already travelling. All World Nomads get free travel blogs, safety advice and language guides for your iPod. You can also support a Footprints community development project when you purchase online. WorldNomads.com – keep travelling safely.
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Co-written by Craig Martin of Indie Travel Podcast and ex-UN Safety and Security trainer Craig Bidois, this is road-tested safety advice for all travellers.