Having a theft-free vacation

Telling people you’re planning on travelling comes with all sorts of advice and warnings. One of the most persistent and scary is the threat of theft. Being away from home and having your ID, money, clothes, and/or belongings stolen is the opposite of fun.

The best way to avoid armed robbery or other extremely traumatic experiences is to talk to your travel agent and check advisories.

For smaller thefts, it seems that Pickpockets have gotten a near mystical reputation. Hollywood would have you believe that one bump and the thief will have your underwear. Thankfully they’re not quite that good.

Pickpockets are still a big issue, especially in big cities.

What can you do?

There are a few tips and tricks for you to keep your valuables safe.

1. Don’t carry everything.

A thief can’t pickpocket something you don’t have with you.

2. Don’t flaunt it.

Try to avoid traveling with unnecessary valuables. Try not to have too much cash.

If you have to have the valuables try not to flash them around like you’re a bigshot. Try to only take out a little bit of cash and not a whole wad.

3. Hide your stuff

Wear a money belt or some other form of hidden pocket. And don’t put everything at the same place. That way, if they do get one hiding spot, you still have something.

4. Zippers!

A zippered bag or purse is much more secure than one that has just an opening. One that has a lockable zipper is even better.

5. Watch your stuff

This seems obvious, but the easiest target is one that isn’t paying attention. If your bag isn’t attached to you or something solid, it’s an easy target. Same with one shouldered bags. Wear them crossbody to avoid a quick snatchings.

Don’t put your cell or laptop on the table after you’re done with it. It should stay in your hand, your secure bag, or your pocket.

6. Avoid distractions

The number one way to lose your stuff is to be distracted. This is the oldest trick in the book. Someone gets your attention and someone else frees your stuff. Still enjoy the busker, but make sure you keep an eye on your things.

Also don’t accept things from random strangers. I mean if it’s Mardi Gras or you’re landing in Hawaii then expect something, but otherwise be wary of gifts. They could be distractions or they could come with a hidden cost.

7. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger

At the risk of sounding like your parents; don’t get into a vehicle with a random stranger or follow them to less crowded areas.

If someone needs help, call the authorities or wave down someone who works in the area.

8. Don’t risk your life

If someone is robbing you and they have a weapon, it’s best to just give them what they want. Your things are not worth your life. Be safe.

9. Wear your bag on your front

If you are worried about people slashing or getting into your bag, wear it on your front and hug it. That way you’ll know if someone comes for it.

If you carry a cell or wallet, consider wearing in the front pocket of your pants. It’s a harder target.

10. Buy an antitheft bag

If after all this you’re still worried, go ahead and buy yourself an anti-theft bag.

There are all kinds out there from $30 on Amazon to $500. They all have different features and ways of preventing theft. You can also buy a mesh cage for your current travel bag.

The most important features are a slash proof bag, locked or hidden zippers, and hidden pockets.

The three best companies that I’ve found for bags are:

Great features of both the Nomatic and Bobby are that they are also crush-proof, meaning your laptop or tablet won’t get destroyed by over-zealous baggage handlers or if you sit on them.

What about RFID blocking?

RFID means Radio-frequency identification. You may know it as Tap or Interact Flash. Your credit cards, phones, bus passes, work passes, passports, and a ton of other things work with this technology.

A lot of people have been worried about RFID theft or cloning. There’s been demonstrations and hackers have shown that it is possible.

But according to The Identity Theft Centre: “There are far better behaviors you could adopt if you want to keep your information and your funds safe[.]”

There have been no known thefts from this method and it shouldn’t be on the top of your list of worries. It’s easier to steal the card than it is the RFID information and then use it. Even if they get your RFID data that doesn’t include your three digit security code on the back or your PIN.

As for your passport, all they can get from the RFID is your name and basic information. So unless you’re pretending to be someone else, you should be fine.

If it makes you feel better, however, there is no harm.

Any other safety precautions we missed?


Rick Steve’s Europe: Outsmarting Pickpockets and Thieves

USA Today: Lessons from the Louvre: How to avoid pickpockets

The Savvy Backpaker: How to avoid pickpockets in Europe — Tips for outsmarting the thieves

Wirecutter: Dear Wirecutter: Are RFID-Blocking Wallets Necessary?

Slate: The Skimming Scam

Global News: Reality check: You don’t need RFID protection in your wallet

Are you interested in travelling? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca