For the vast majority of travellers and holidaymakers, exciting trips to exotic locations are risk and trouble free. But unfortunately there are still those that are unlucky enough to be the victims of light fingers – and find their belongings missing, money stolen, credit card fraud – or something worse. In our travels around the world, we’ve certainly heard many stories of the troubles of fellow globetrotters, who have unwillingly become the target of some not very nice people and we’ve been scammed ourselves when in Bagan, Myanmar.
Here are a few top tips we put together to help keep you and your stuff safe – especially if you like to party!
#1 Lock it up
We know this might sound pretty obvious – but you’ll be surprised at just how many times you can walk into a hostel dorm room and there are four or five unattended electrical devices scattered about – screaming to be stolen. Some people think that security is putting their laptop under a pillow. Most thieves in hostels are opportunists – sometimes not actually aware they’re going to become a thief until presented with a chance too good to be true. Most decent hostels, hotels and other accommodation will have secure lockers you can use, so don’t give them that chance. And always make sure you carry your own padlock – some places charge for the privilege of borrowing one.
Additional note – make sure it’s a combination lock. It’ll save you the embarrassment of having to saw through the padlock when you lose the keys…
#2 Don’t use a wallet or purse
This might be a little controversial – as where else are you going to keep your stuff?! But this is especially true for people who like to go out partying. Wallets and purses are easy to steal and can fall out of pockets in a second, or be accidentally left on a table for someone to swipe away. Instead, keep these things locked up at your accommodation or in a belt with a hidden pocket – and only take out enough money to last you for the day/night/activity.
At the same time, always carry your cards, passport and money in separate pockets – never all together. You’re in real trouble if someone makes off with all of those. You have been warned.
#3 Safety in numbers
Travelling and partying go hand in hand, especially for students who just love going out to dance the night away and meet new people.
But it can get unsafe if you find yourself in a strange part of a strange town at 1 am and you’re all alone. You’re painting a very big “rob me” sign on your head. Stick with your travel buddies or friends you’ve made, and always let someone you trust know where you’re going. Ask locals or hotel/hostel staff where the safe nightspots are – and carry your accommodation’s business card. You’ll be so thankful when you can just hand it to a taxi driver and they’ll take you back to your nice warm bed!
#4 Watch your drinks
Alarmingly, people are still using date-rape drugs and sleeping pills to take advantage of partygoers, so it’s really a no-brainer to keep an eye on your drinks. This isn’t always easy to do (especially as a fun night wears on) so get your mates in on the act too and watch out for each other.
Don’t ever accept drinks from someone you don’t know, and if you begin to feel unwell or unusual in any way, immediately alert a friend or one of the bar staff. Use some common sense – and everyone will have a great night.
#5 Don’t get flashy
Flaunting the latest smartphone might get a kick out of some, but be aware what kind of unwanted attention you’re attracting. You never know who’s watching where you put that top-of-the-range DSLR camera or how many shots you’ve just bought everyone in the bar – twice over. Be a little more subtle and low key.
It’s difficult in some places where you stick out like a sore thumb, but doing your best to not look like a tourist can help sometimes too. And it’s a little more respectful. Nobody likes loud, obnoxious tourists – and you’re asking for trouble. Fade into the background and would-be robbers will hunt someone else.
#6 Take out travel insurance
Ummmm…do I? Don’t I? Is it worth it? We believe the answer is yes. You never know what is going to happen – especially when it comes to your health. A laptop can be replaced, but your life is much more important. There’s plenty of great backpacker and budget travel insurance out there for long term treks – and you never know when you’ll be thankful for it. Don’t shut the stable door after the horse has bolted!
We could go on and on and on here with travel safety tips, but these are just a few of the most important ones to get you started. Just keep a good head on your shoulders and look after your belongings and you’ll have a theft-free holiday. And don’t forget to have fun. That’s an order!