The warm air of a Parisian night cocoons you, and the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower enchants you. The sounds, smell, and feel of Paris surround you from all sides. You want to capture this moment to cherish it forever, so you reach for your purse to fish out your cellphone and finally put that high-resolution camera to use. However, your purse is not where it should be. In fact, it’s nowhere to be found!
Within the next 10 seconds, it all comes crashing down when you realize that you can neither find your phone nor your purse. The panic kicks in and you want to scream. As life would have it, you’re stuck in an unfamiliar city, in an unfamiliar country, with no phone, no money, and not even a supportive shoulder to cry on. What to do?
This sort of situation certainly isn’t limited to Paris. Tourists make easy targets for thieves and pickpockets all around the world, and the trip of your dreams can turn into a nightmare when they strike.
So, to dust a sprinkle of practicality onto your wanderlust, here are a few steps you can take to avoid getting robbed on your next international trip. And if you do become a victim, we’ve got you covered with the steps you should take next.
5 Simple Steps to Avoid Getting Robbed While Traveling
1. Don’t Carry Too Much Cash
While it’s true that “cash is king” during times of crisis, all the money in the world won’t do you much good if it’s gone.
The best preventive measure against theft is to avoid carrying the extra dollars on hand in the first place. Carry just enough cash to cover what you’ll need for the day, plus a little extra.
And the best way to carry money overseas is to split it up.
You should always divide the cash you’re carrying into different places. Keep some in your purse or fanny-pack, some in your wallet, and some in a money belt. This way, if one item is stolen, all of your money won’t be gone with it. In countries where they’re accepted, use international credit and debit cards. Better yet, use mobile payment apps whenever possible.
2. Lock it Up
How to protect your belongings while traveling? Well, first and foremost, you should be locking your bags.
There’s no such thing as too many locks when you’re traveling. The inconvenience of frequent unlocking will eventually prove its worth when it prevents theft. Invest in a small cable lock and use it. Lock your purse or bag to that park bench you’re sitting on, or your bus seat, the chair at that café, etc. Even a small lock can go a long way in preventing crimes of opportunity.
3. Take Out Your Earbuds
As tempting as it may be to cue up your favorite song while seeing the sights, or drowning out a talkative fellow traveler, earbuds and earphones can put you at greater risk of theft. You need to have all of your senses available to detect a potential threat, and earbuds block one of the most important of those senses out. So, save the earbuds for when you’re back at your hotel.
4. Carry a Dummy Wallet
As for how to avoid getting pickpocketed, we’ve got a brilliant solution for you—dummy wallets.
As absurd as the suggestion sounds, a dummy – or decoy – wallet can help in several ways. If you keep it in your back pocket where you normally carry your real wallet, potential pickpockets will only get away with useless junk, rather than your real cards, ID, and cash. Plus, if you find yourself getting mugged, handing over a dummy wallet can be a quick way to diffuse the situation with no material loss to you.
5. Knowledge is Power
When traveling to a foreign country, it’s natural to do plenty of research about what sights to see, places to eat, and hotels to stay in. You should do at least as much research on the safety of your destination. Look up crime statistics and the areas of town where crimes occur most frequently. Use this information to plan an itinerary that minimizes your risk.
BONUS TIP: Invest in Travel Insurance
Think of travel insurance as your financial safety net, in case you do get robbed (or lose your belongings).
It can reimburse you for the loss of your belongings (among other things). Of course, each plan is different and is priced based on how comprehensive its coverage is. Comparing prices and benefits is quick and easy at Insubuy.
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Too Late? Couldn’t Avoid Getting Robbed?
Here’s What to Do if You Get Robbed Inspite of it All
Step 1: Get Your Bearings
In the panic of the moment, it’s easy to forget this important step. Get yourself to a safe place, collect your bearings, do a personal inventory, and get help if necessary. This is a crucial step before you report the crime to the authorities, so you can file a correct report and relay the events as best as you remember them.
Step 2: Contact the Authorities
Once you’ve collected yourself and are ready to make a statement, contact the local police or law enforcement agency for the area. You will need to describe exactly what happened and provide as much information as possible about what was stolen. If you have photos available of any of the stolen items, as well as serial numbers, this would be the time to provide that information to the authorities.
Step 3: Contact Your Embassy
If you can, do this even before or while reporting to the authorities. Most embassies have a well-oiled system in place to handle such incidents. Most of all, seeing familiar people and hearing your native tongue can go a long way in calming your frazzled nerves. Apart from aid for theft/loss of passport and travel documents, many embassies also have provisions to provide temporary financial aid to their citizens for emergencies.
Step 4: Contact Your Bank
Before the panic and exhaustion set in, get your credit or debit cards frozen immediately. All banks have 24/7 emergency hotlines that you can call for this. You will want to ensure that whoever stole your cards will be unable to use them, and you’ll want to put the wheels in motion to get replacement cards issued as soon as possible.
Final Safety Tips
It’s quite normal to get caught up in the excitement and wonderment of visiting a new city or country. This can lead you to momentarily forget about your belongings and put you at greater risk of theft.
Try to remember to keep your belongings in-hand as much as possible. And be sure to utilize locks to secure your bags in every applicable situation to avoid getting robbed. If you are a victim of theft, just take a deep breath and follow the steps in this article. There are resources at your disposal that you can use to help get your holiday back on track.
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