Travel Tip Tuesday : Best Ways to Prevent Pickpocketing

You and Donna Summer both work hard for your money.  You are diligent about saving it in hopes of taking a nice vacation.  You deserve it after all, right?

Yeah, you do.  But nothing is worse than scrimping and saving just to be ripped-off and left penniless in the middle of a place far from home.

Many an unsuspecting traveler has fallen prey to pickpockets. They are quick, unobtrusive and well-trained.  This Travel Tip Tuesday, I offer you the best ways to prevent pickpockets.

  • Be aware. The best advice I can offer you is when traveling – be aware.  Aware of your surroundings, aware of large groups of people, aware of the guy that dropped his wallet on the floor next to you hoping that you will bend down to pick it up for him.  And when you do…Bam!  You’ve been pickpocketed!  So avoid all distractions and be aware.
  • Don’t talk to strangers. I know, I know, it’s not in your nature.  It goes against what your mother taught you.  You think it’s mean not to be friendly. But being friendly can also cost you.  Be wary of people who stop to ask directions or other general questions.  Not making eye contact in the first place is another good way to avoid being approached.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you.  I can’t believe I still need to explain this one, but as long as travelers continue to carry lots of cash, I’ll continue to harp on the fact that you shouldn’t.  Often travelers are afraid to leave cash behind in their hotel room or afraid to just use credit and ATM cards for purchases and instead opt to walk around with wads of bills in their pockets. Don’t give your life savings away – the less cash you have on your person, the better.
  • Wear a money belt.  They are ugly, sweaty, uncomfortable and annoying. Did I mention ugly?  But, simply put, they work.  Enough said.
  • Refuse to wear a money belt?  Secure cash another way. Guys who carry wallets should put them in their front pockets.  Ladies – leave the handled purse home and instead opt for a day pack.  Find something long enough to fit over your body, so that you can keep your hands free.  Something with zippers is best and keep it zipped closed at all times.  A bag with a flap that hides all the zippers is an added bonus. Keep your hands on the bag and hold it close to your body at all times.
  • Don’t make yourself an obvious target. Dressing like an out-of-towner, walking around looking like a lost soul and whipping out any sort of map are surefire ways to draw attention to yourself and scream, “Hey, pickpocket me!”  Could you make it any easier?  Instead, blend in, act like you belong, walk with a purpose and plan your route in advance – or at least not in the middle of a crowded city sidewalk.
  • Know before you go.  When you know where you’ll be traveling, do some research on the Internet. Check travel forums and on-line guidebooks for the latest up-to-date information on current pickpocket scams.  Take extra precautions in known pickpocket areas and read other travelers helpful suggestions on how to avoid the destination specific scams.  And double check your travel insurance to find out if you’ll be covered if you fall victim.

Have you fallen victim to a pickpocket? Do you have helpful suggestions for avoiding pickpockets?

Share in the comments!

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