One way to ruin your vacation quicker than you can say “vacation” is to get robbed when you’re traveling abroad. Let me tell you a secret (or not-so-secret secret), petty thieves love tourists… especially lost looking tourists. Thieves usually target people who aren’t paying attention, and if you already look lost then you’re doing half the job for them. Take this from the criminology major, it’s the easiest to commit a crime against people you know that either won’t notice or can’t put up a fight. Actually, don’t take it from me, I’ve never been a thief so I can’t say this comes from personal experience. However, as I am figuratively trying to put on the shoes of a thief and walk in them, here are a couple of ways to minimize the risk of getting robbed when traveling abroad.
Do your homework
I know, traveling is the time where you’re supposed to not have to do any work and just relax. However, I’m a firm believer of studying the place you’re visiting so you won’t have to a) get lost or b) look lost. The best way to study where you’re going is to plan out your day the night before. No worries if you’re not a big planner or you like to just improvise, you can simply just write down a few locations you’d like to visit that day and do your research on ways to get there. Be it the subway, bus, train or even on a boat, make sure you have a general idea on where the location is and the type transportations that can take you there. If you’re even more advanced, you can plan out your transportation system from one location to another. Why does this matter in not getting robbed? That brings me to my next point!
Do not look like a tourist
Whilst you’re scratching your head staring at the sign trying to figure out where you are, the thief that just bumped into you and apologized has already stolen your wallet. Even worst, the silent ones have already slit the bottom of your backpack and stole your belongings. This is where homework comes into play because even if you are a little lost, you could quickly do a few glances at the street signs or subway posters and not have to pull out that poster sized map you grabbed from the hotel room. Another way to not look like a tourist is to avoid dressing like a tourist, one of the biggest indicators that you don’t belong is when you’re dressed like you’re carrying your entire life with you. Do, however, dress comfortably. If you want to take it one step further, dress with the mindset of someone living in the country or city you’re visiting, I find that it really helps with enjoying the culture.
Have a buddy system
If you’re traveling with someone else, a buddy system is a good way to not get robbed. I remember specifically that one time, when I was in Beijing, as I was leaning over the counter to pay for the delicious street food I had ordered, my friend noticed someone hovering a little too close to my bag. She then made eye contact with him and shook her head as to notify him that she was aware of his actions. He then retreated away from my bag and moved onwards. But what if you are traveling alone? Simple, just be cautious.
Call me weird, but this one thing I do to make sure I’m aware of where everything is in my pockets is I flex the body part nearest to my pockets to feel the weight of my belongings every now and then. Sometimes this could freak me out because I’d forget that I changed the location of where I put my phone and then proceed to have a mini panic attack until I reach into my pant pockets and find it. You can have your own system on how to remember where everything is, it’s simply better to realize it’s missing early on than to notice your passport’s been stolen when you’re comfortably laying on your hotel bed.
At the end of the day, I leave you with one note: be aware of your surroundings, pick out suspicious people staring too intently at you and stay safe. And, *knock on wood*, if you do get robbed, try not to let it affect your mood, remember everything is materialistic and all that matters is your safety. Happy travels!
[All images are my own]