Top 5 Travel Safe Tips – Five essential travel hacks to keep you out of harm’s way
Don’t get caught unawares while travelling, and if you do, know how to deal with it.
If you’ve already read part 1, check out part 2
The following tips are the bread and butter of any savvy world traveler. Whether you are in the hustle and bustle of of London’s inner city or bartering for lunch in Morocco, there are certain travel tips and tricks you can employ to avoid being a victim of theft.
Now they may seem simple and obvious to some, but the top 5 travel tips below are essential to any backpacker or tourist.
safe travel tip #1: Don’t Flash your Cash!
A safe travel tip that still eludes even the most dedicated jetsetter.
NEVER keep all your cash on you, in the same place. Ideally, your accommodation will provide a safe to keep your valuables. Take out what you need for the day and leave the rest in the safe. Whilst out and about, don’t open your wallet and display your bills. Some people are like vultures and will see you as a target if you can’t handle your cash discretely.
Using a money belt is great but it isn’t always the easiest way to access cash quickly and discretely. Neck wallets are awesome for this as you can quickly get your cash and tuck the wallet under your clothes again.
Even when using a standard wallet, it’s important to keep the amount of money contained within to a minimum. If you are spending the whole day shopping with cash, wear a money belt underneath your clothes and “top up” your regular wallet at intervals during the day. Nothing says “Steal my wallet” like a thick pile of local currency spilling out of your pocket!
safe travel tip #2: Photocopy your travel documents
The second safety travel tip is something that takes minutes to prepare but could save you days and days of hassle. There is nothing worse than losing your passport while in a foreign country. Losing money and valuables is always tough but losing a passport or ID can severely restrict your movements and make it almost impossible to participate in a wide range of activities.
Any kind of official or authority figure in a foreign country is going to want to see your passport, particularly when reporting a crime. If you’ve lost it, you’re in a lot of trouble until you can contact your embassy for a new one. On top of this, most accommodation will require at the very least a copy of your passport. Many places will take your passport off you for the entirety of your stay.
By making several photocopies and stashing them throughout your luggage and on your person, you have a last resort form of ID. They even make belts that will easily fit folded paper inside so that your photocopies are out of sight and out of mind.
Photocopies are also fantastic to hand over when staying in a hostel, hotel, guesthouse etc. Anything is preferable to separating you from your passport. If the accommodation allows it, hand them the photocopy instead of the passport and you’re good to go!
*Protip: Take it to the next level and photocopy more than one form of ID and also prominent itinerary, flight and booking information
safe travel tip #3: Bring a back up Credit Card
I personally take all my cards with me on my travels. Luckily I only have a few! My every day card is a Mastercard Debit and I can use it as either a credit card or to withdraw cash. This is the card I keep in my passport wallet or money belt. My super secret stash card stays in a hidden compartment in my bag and is only used for emergencies.
Be careful choosing your back up credit card. Outside of the US, the UK and Australia many countries will not accept certain card types. Avoid American Express, Diners etc and stick to Mastercard and Visa. I personally use the 28 Degrees Master Card as it’s great for avoiding international conversion fees.
Take note – this is a card only used as a last resort, not to be used if you max out your other card whilst shopping for hand bags in Milan!
safe travel tip #4: Don’t wear your purses or wallets with a flimsy strap on the outside of your clothes
I’ve seen it a hundred times and I won’t be surprised if I see it a hundred more. Cities where pickpockets are prominent all have the same type of thief. Someone who will spot a potential target crossing the street, sitting down at a cafe or just enjoying the view. The target will be wearing something like this on the outside of his/her clothes.
All it takes is a quick, strong yank and the bag and it’s contents are gone. Most modern neck wallets come with sturdy straps with decent stitching. Even the best neck wallet will cause you problems in some cities however because if the strap doesn’t break, you will be dragged around until something gives. It’s a horrible tactic employed by thieves but it’s extremely effective, often ending with the thief speeding off in a car or scooter.
The solution: Don’t wear these style of purses or bags and if you do, keep them under your shirt at all times. I would recommend a money belt for more dangerous areas.
safe travel tip #5: Know where to hold your belongings
If you must bring a bag and you’re walking through busy streets or a market, keep it in front of you, especially at night. It’s a lot easier for a thief to walk behind you and very carefully unzip or unfasten a pocket and take the contents. Think hard about what you keep in your day bag as well. Do you really need your passport in there? Is that extra cash in a hard to reach place?
If you’re travelling with a wallet that fits in your pocket, keep it in your front pocket if possible. It’s a lot harder to steal a wallet from someones front pocket then their back. There’s also less chance it will accidentally slide out when standing up or sitting down.
Don’t keep loose cash in your pocket. I have a friend who did this for years and I would find his money all over my house! As handy as it was for me when I needed a few extra bucks for the pizza delivery, it was a nightmare for him. Once he bought his first Bellroy, he never went back (no joke, his first proper wallet was a Bellroy!). The same theory applies when travelling, keep your cash, cards and all your belongings organized. When everything goes back in the same compartment, it’s super easy to notice when something’s missing.
That’s it for now guys, I hope there is something in there for everyone. I’ve only scratched the surface and I’d love to hear any other tips, trips and hacks for keeping safe while on the road!
Comment below, reach me on twitter or facebook to let me know your favourite safe travel tips.