As much as vacations should be all about enjoying what the world has to offer while leaving the stress of work behind, there is one undeniable truth that should not be ignored. Even in relatively safer tourist destinations like Rome or Paris, travelers are prime targets for theft. Most commonly, this comes in the form of pickpocketing.
Theft of money or other valuables is certainly a quick way to ruin the enjoyment of a vacation, yet excessive preoccupation with the thought of it happening can also place a vibe-killing paranoia over the trip. Fortunately, there are many ways to make yourself unlikely to fall victim to pickpocketing, and none of them are complicated. Here is a list of precautions to allow a generally carefree travel experience even in cities notorious for pickpockets.
10 Follow Your Instincts
This one may seem obvious, but always keep in mind that gut instincts can often be a reliable alarm for evading threats. If you notice someone behaving strangely or appearing to be a little too interested in what you are doing and where you are going, it is best to play it safe and avoid them. Keeping a distance is key here. This can be done in discretely evasive ways, like simply crossing to the other side of the street or just making sure a few people stand between you and the suspicious stranger.
9 Money Belts
Money belts are an easy way to hide your valuables in a place where pickpockets could never reach. There are different styles of money belts. Some are exactly what it sounds like, with a similar appearance to a typical belt, but with a small slot that can hold some money or documents that is closed with a zipper. Some money belts are more so in the form of a pouch. These are not quite large or stylish enough to enter fanny pack territory, but they have room for more storage than the basic money belt.
8 Pickpocket-proof Clothing
As an alternative to depending on a money belt or for even further precaution, specialized pickpocket-proof clothing is easy to find online. There is a variety of options in this department, mostly consisting of shirts or pants with hidden or well-secured pockets that go for functionality while still looking reasonably fashionable. For the most security conscious, there are very intricate travel vests that are virtually impenetrable for pickpockets.
7 Keep Everything On Your Front Side
For those unwilling to invest in things like money belts or pickpocket-proof clothing, there are old, tried, and true methods that require no expense. The concept is simple: keep all valuables to the front where they can see at all times. Moving a wallet from a back pocket to the front significantly decreases the chances that someone can pull a fast one. Likewise, wearing backpacks towards the front side makes it impossible for pickpockets to stealthily reach a hand inside. This is especially common practice in crowded public transportation.
6 Leave valuables in your room when possible
An item that is not taken out in a pocket faces no risk of theft. Before leaving the room for the day, take a quick inventory of items and sort through what is truly needed and what is not essential. Passport theft is always a massive concern, and for this reason, most people choose to stow it away in a safe location back in their room. The best practice is to take a quick photo of it in case of the rare event that identification is requested.
5 Do Not Carry More Cash Than You Need
Next on the list follows the same line of logic that the less there is stuffed into pockets, the more difficult it is to be a pickpocketing target. A common rule of thumb for seasoned travelers is to never carry more cash than an estimated budget for one day. Not only does this decrease the likelihood of a thief being able to find it, but also, in the event of a theft, the loss will be minimized. Losing all the cash withdrawn for an entire trip budget to one pickpocket is painful to endure.
4 Do Not Fall For Tricks
A common tactic among thieves is to cause a distraction for the victim, which provides them with an opportunity to reach into pockets unnoticed. This happens in an endless variety of ways and often includes the cooperation of two people who have chosen a target. One widely reported method involves someone “accidentally” spilling a drink on the victim before their partner pretends to give a courteous helping hand to the tourist while reaching into their pockets. Be always overly vigilant of physical contact with strangers regardless of the context.
3 Keep Items And Bags Fastened To Your Body
This is another simple precaution that many people take for granted until it is too late. Keeping items like the straps of bags or a camera securely fastened to one’s body helps ensure that no one can quickly snatch it and run. Even when in a safe place, it is a good idea to maintain the habit of keeping valuables as physically attached to one’s body as possible instead of leaving bags, cameras, or other items freely sitting on a countertop or the floor. All a thief needs is one quick moment of vulnerability.
2 Do Not Show Off Valuables
The easiest way to become a viable pickpocketing target is to have valuables on display. Many tend to thoughtlessly wave their cell phones or other electronics around, count stacks of cash, and wear flashy jewelry in public. This not only broadcasts to thieves that a traveler has high-value items worth taking but also potentially tells them exactly which pocket to reach into to get it. Try to limit cell phone use when in public areas and never inadvertently show off all tons of cash.
1 Be Extremely Cautious In Large Crowds
Avoiding large crowds is often impossible when traveling, whether it be on public transportation, on the streets of a major city on closely gathered tours, or on vivacious nightlife. The best one can do about this is try to be very cautious of any physical contact with a stranger, no matter how minor a bump or brush with another may be. Pickpockets are aware that individuals in this setting are overstimulated and will take this as an opportunity to strike unnoticed. Persistently try to maintain an open bubble of personal space.