So imagine this scenario: you’re sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome (or insert any other prominent European tourist attractions), enjoying your gelato and people-watching at the same time. A couple of Gypsys saunter over to peddle their knick knacks. After confirming your disinterest for the nth time, they finally move on to the next tourist. You’re ready to leave by now, but wait, what happened to your pouch beside you? The one with your passport, mobile phone and travel money? Buddy, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve just been the victim of pickpockets!
Travelling is fun but being a victim of pickpocketing can quickly put a dampener on your holiday mood. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to prevent this from happening. This quick guide will show you how.
1. Wear a money belt or a fanny pack for your important stuff
This is really important if you are travelling at night and alone even though it’s not that comfy. Put all your cash money in a money belt under your shirt when you’re sleeping. Make sure it’s safe and you would wake up instantly if somebody is trying to get it.
2. Make sure your bag has a zip and lock the zipper if needed
Crowded cities like Paris or Rome are a paradise for pickpockets. So when visiting the Eiffel Tower or the Spanish Stairs lock your zip so nobody can open it in the crowd. Believe it or not, you won’t notice it and even if you will never find the thief as he will be miles away already.
3. What you don’t carry can’t be stolen
It’s obvious isn’t it? If you go out at night for example – don’t carry your passport and credit card with you. Your phone, keys and some cash should be enough. You want to enjoy yourself not have to keep patting your person every few minutes! And girls, please, please, please, don’t wear valuable/sentimental jewellery on your trips. That engagement ring you can’t bear to take off? You probably should unless you want to be sobbing about it at the police station in a foreign country – with no hopes of actually getting it back.
4. Wear your bag or backpack in front of you
Especially so if you’re in crowded places like the metro or an elevator. Wearing your bag frontwise allows you to keep an eye on your bag, hold it tight and cover the zip with your fingers if necessary.
5. Keep your smartphones off the table
Smartphones are a hot item for pickpockets because of their high resale value and leaving it on the table is an open invitation most won’t be able to resist. Unless you’re actually using your phone, it’s best to leave it in your bag, lest you get distracted when your meal arrives and boom! Your smartphone is gone forever!
6. Dress like a local
Pickpockets will think twice before picking on a local who likely knows the ins and outs of the city streets, where to go and what to do. A foreigner on the other hand is easy prey. Dress to blend in with the locals. Dress down if you have to! You don’t want to attract thieves by looking like a fat cat tourist oozing with money.
7. Avoid carrying cloth bags
Why? Because they’re easy to cut and you know what happens when pickpockets have access to a gaping hole in your bag right?
8. Fan out your valuables
The saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket is very apt here. Try not to keep all your important stuff in one place. Disperse them accordingly so that if you indeed were to loose your belongings, you’ll have some cash elsewhere..
9. Disguise your valuables
Perhaps instead of carrying that cute Prada wallet that screams M-O-N-E-Y, you could actually put your cash into clean, unused sanitary pads. Yeah it’s unconventional but at least we know pickpockets won’t immediately target something as inconspicuous as sanitary pads. Also, try to personalize your valuables. You could add stickers to your laptop or mark your initials on it. That way it’s easily identifiable and a lot less appealing to thieves looking to resell stolen goods.
10. Don’t keep valuables in the pockets of your outermost coat
If you’re travelling during winter, chances are you’ll be bundled up in three to four layers which means you’ll hardly feel anything when a pickpocket inserts his hand to steal your stuff. Keep them in the pockets of your innermost layer if possible. It may be uncomfortable but it certainly is worth the hassle!