Updated Jan. 23, 2017 Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim With fears now of terrorism, travelers may overlook the more likely possibility of property crimes and theft. The $10 million heist during Paris Fashion Week 2016 was a stark wake up call. However, while high profile celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, are targeted for their wealth and their visibility, few travelers will have such an experience. Tourists don’t tend to tour with 8 figures worth of gems that can attract thieves. More often, petty crimes can occur. I learned my lesson on a joint work and pleasure trip. Read on to learn how to dodge wily thieves, It is true that with some thought robberies abroad can be more easily avoided.
Having just returned from travel outside the US, I have some updated thoughts. (It is good to think how to use such tips at home. It is easy to be less wathcful in familiar places.)
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip One:
Always consider your safety when you pick your lodging. Bear in mind that large hotels and chains tend to have security while even chic, small hotels may not. Think about these questions:
- In home stays or short term lodging, look at the area not just the rental space.
- In group houses like beach resorts, are doors and windows left open in warm weather as people come and go?
- In hotels, are key cards required to use the elevator to guest floors?
- Is good transportation nearby?
- What dinner spots are there in a safe distance after dark?
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip Two:
Avoid flashy, faux bling. They can attract as much attention as the “real deal”. An undiscriminating thief in “training” may still think that “all that glitters is (in fact) gold!” With the smart copies now in shops, it is not hard to make yourself a target. Don’t forget this is not just jewelry. Chic luggage that sports top brands can be the same draw.
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip Three:
Be vigilant in train and subway stations. I found this out at high noon on a European trip. A quick gang of bandits dashed in and out. It was right before the train left. I had split my cash and cards into 3 places and used a money belt. However, they still did a good imitation of the “Heimlich Hug” and took a dive into my purse. That left me explaining through three countries why I had no ticket. As I looked out at the snow, I thought I might be thrown out in the cold.
Here in the US I was just last week left on a train platform alone at 10 PM. If a problem came up, the only way out was a tall staircase, escalator or elevator. If you find you have a long wait, stay in a well lighted area with other passengers. Don’t go down to the platform until a few minutes before.
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip Four:
When you use social media, try posting exact travel plans and identifying photos as you move on to a new spot not in real time. Why? You may come home to an empty house or apartment. While away, you may create a road map that leads straight to your door.
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip Five:
Hold on to your purse or wallet at lunch and dinner. Smash and grabs aren’t just for cars. If pickpockets and real bad guys can reach it, you may lose it. Even at home, purses have disappeared on floors and from chairs in even trendy, high end cafes.
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim, Tip Six:
Safeguard your electronic devices with passwords. Today’s Washington Post noted the risk of lost phones and “virtual kidnappings”. Loved ones get word that they must pay ransom. Cash changes hands right away. The one real hostage? The missing phone!
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim: Bonus Tip 8:
Pack light so you won’t be encumbered. In an emergency, if you can’t reach help, you need to be able to move away as fast as you can.
Travel safety-7 Tips on How to Avoid Being a Robbery Victim: Bottom line:
The best rule of thumb? Don’t take abroad what you can’t replace, and don’t make it easy for would be thieves. As Willie Sutton famously said, the simple reason he robbed banks was, that’s where the money was! So don’t make yourself look like a high value target!
For more safety tips, see our 10 Solo Travel Safety Tips.