1. Secret Pockets and Bras are the answer!
Whenever you are traveling make the most of the secret pockets. If you don’t have any, make them yourself or ask somebody for help. It is easier than it sounds, believes me. I suggest using very thin material and sew your pockets inside your pants, close to your crotch. There is a very small probability that robbers would search that area.
Secret pockets are amazing as they enable you to hide most of your cash & documents and leave only the necessary amount in your regular pockets. The idea behind it is that if somebody is trying to rob or simply pickpocket you, he is unlikely to get to the core of your cash.
Whenever you find yourself in a position where you need more money, simply go to the toilet and take it out from your secret pockets. In this way nobody will even suspect that you have them. If you are a woman you can also hide the money inside your bra, in the padding.
I’ve visited many places perceived to be quite dangerous, and trust me, when you are strolling along crowded streets full of pickpockets this approach gives you a priceless peace of mind. There is no better feeling than the awareness that nobody will get to your documents and cash. It makes it easier to focus on enjoying your trip. If you are still hesitating I will show you what happens when things go wrong.
READ MORE: WHAT IS SECRET POCKETS AND WHY WE NEED THEM?
2. Always have some change in your pockets
Even if you use secret pockets always keep some change in your normal pockets. The reason is that if somebody is trying to rob you and you have absolutely nothing, they may become aggressive. I know situations where people got punched by a frustrated robber who couldn’t find any money.
It is wise to have the equivalent of $10 or $15 in your regular pocket. If somebody is trying to rob you, you can take all that change and throw it on the ground. There is a big possibility that whoever is bothering you will stop and try to grab everything from the ground. This is your chance to run away (or punch them – I don’t officially endorse it though). If you don’t have any change the robbers are more likely to run after you (convinced that you are hiding something) or as I mentioned before, assault you physically. You don’t want to get into that situation.
3. Protect your Camera on the Beach with this Great Trick
The below technique works well when you want to let your creative spirit flow, but unfortunately the beach you chose is not the safest place in the world.
READ MORE my Experience: PROTECT YOUR CAMERA ON THE BEACH WITH THIS GREAT TRICK
Once you are done with pictures & videos, put your camera in the bag or simply wrap a towel around it and jog for a few minutes. While you are jogging look back from time to time to make sure that nobody is following you. In this way you will ensure that once you reach your new spot nobody will know that you have the camera on you. I used this technique in Rio de Janeiro and it worked perfectly well.
You may think: “nobody will steal from me”. Well, this may be true. However, if your equipment is expensive and beaches you plan to visit are perceived to be a bit more dangerous (e.g. Rio or Barcelona), then I encourage you to test my approach.
Unfortunately, I still see many situations around the world where people flash photos and make videos on the beach only to put the camera in the bag and lie down. At that point every thief on the beach knows that the camera is securely packed in that nice green bag resting next to the deckchair. It becomes an easy target for an expert and there are many of them.
I will never forget when I was in Copacabana and saw 2 guys flashing their iPhones and fancy cameras in front of everybody. On the top of that they had T-shirts with Norwegian flag. All of this was like a gigantic neon sign saying:
“Rob me please. I came from a rich country and brought some fancy things with me. Don’t worry, I will not fight for them”.
I really hope that these guys avoided the trouble. Nevertheless, showing your wealth is the last thing you want to do in certain places.
4. Scan your documents & don’t carry originals
Scan your passport, insurance and other important documents and make sure that you always have the copies with you. When you travel you can’t really predict when you will need your documents. On the other hand, the last thing you want to do is to carry the original copies wherever you go. The reason is that if you lose them you will have an insurmountable amount of stress to deal with. If it happened to you or you know somebody who experienced it you know what I mean. It is a predicament that can turn your trip into a disaster and you should do your best to avoid it. Learn from the mistakes of other people and scan your documents. It is better to be prepared than to be sorry. Also, if for some reason you need your real documents you can always keep them in your secret pockets.
5. Upload scans of your documents to CLOUD
Thanks to this approach you will be able to retrieve your documents from the internet no matter what happens. It’s an additional safety layer and you should definitely use it!
6. Always walk with the sense of direction & confidence
Walk in a confident way with a sense of direction and people will not try to stop you. They will simply assume that you know what you are doing and you are heading towards a specific destination. Therefore, you will not appear to be an easy victim.
I will share with you a great trick that will help you in potentially dangerous situations. When you are walking through any rough area on your own or when it is dark imagine that you need to go from point A to point B and you are already late. This will propel you to walk faster and it will appear that you know exactly where you want to go.
In addition, when you are walking on the street and can sense some danger imagine that your friend is waiting for you and you can already see him. You should smile, wave to your imaginary friend and start walking faster. If you are travelling with a basic mobile phone you may even pretend that you are calling him. In this case confidently say: “Hey, what’s up, I can see you guys!” (Of course, you don’t want to do it with a fancy iPhone).
If you take these steps whoever intended to rob/harass you will think at least twice before doing so. Why would they approach you if somebody is already waiting for you? After all, your friends could potentially join you or call the police straight away. Whoever planned to harass you will probably figure out that the potential trouble is not worth the potential gain. I used this technique when I got lost in a dangerous part of Rio at night and it served me well.
7. Avoid using Map on the Street
Unless you are in a safe area avoid using maps on the street. You have to be aware that the moment you open the map on the street you are also putting a big neon sign above your head stating:
“Hey, I’m a tourist and I have money. It will be easy to rob me as I am excited and distracted. I don’t know the place and most importantly I don’t even expect that anything can happen”.
Well, unless you are in a safe place you don’t want to do it. Instead, whenever you are in a high risk area like for example Las Ramblas in Barcelona or the center of Mexico City and need to use a map or ask for
directions, enter a hotel/restaurant/bar. The point is that you don’t want to do it on the street in front of hundreds of people.
8. Do your homework
This tip seems obvious, but interestingly many people forget about it. Do you research before you visit a new place. Spend a few hours digging out the info about your destination. Find out, which places are dangerous; which areas are safe, what is the most common crime etc. Even an hour of proper research will serve you well in your new destination and can save your belongings, sometimes even health. Too many times I have seen travellers lacking the basic knowledge about the place and getting themselves into all kinds of trouble.
9. Master “No thanks” to perfection
When you visit a place where your language is not spoken, make it your duty to master a few simple sentences like “No, thank you” in the local language. For example, if you go to Spain master saying, “No, Gracias!”, in Italy “No, Grazie!” etc. Put emphasis on proper pronunciation.
The reason is that whilst walking along the street, simply minding your own business, you may be intercepted by people seeking to improve their financial resources, and by all means prepared to get what they want at all cost. They usually begin by trying to initiate small talk on any conceivable topic. This in itself is not considered as dangerous, once there are other people in the vicinity. However, the outcome of such small talks can be painful if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So, the moment you say “No Thanks” in English, whoever approached you will figure out (and everybody around) that you are a tourist; you don’t know your way around and will leave the country soon, meaning that you are a very easy victim. However, if you say “No, thank you” in the local language and keep on walking with confidence, whoever approached you will assume that you are either a local, or a foreigner who has been residing there for some time, is familiar with the language, and knows his way around. Automatically, you become a less desirable target as there is a greater chance that you will know how to counteract such situations.
10. Ask Local People
Once you enter a city for the first time use the guidance of local people. My recommendation is to ask at least 4 or 5 locals about their safety tips. The truth is that you may be reading guides like this one, fathoming out city specific guide books, but the most reliable information will be provided by the local people. They live and breathe the place and have full awareness of the danger that awaits foreigners. They can pinpoint areas that are notorious for crime and violence.
For instance, when I relocated to Malaga in Spain to immerse myself in Spanish I needed to find an apartment. Even though Malaga is a fairly safe city, I asked a few local people for advice. They took my map, crossed off 40 % of it and said: “Don’t bother looking for a flat there”.
They explained the intricacies of the city’s underground world in a few minutes and I learnt something that no guide book could teach me.
11. Keep the card of your hostel/hotel in your pocket
At the back of the card put the emergency number of one of your travel buddies or a member of the family. In case something happens e.g. you get lost, you can show it to somebody (taxi driver, police officer…).
12. Educate Your Travel Buddies About Safety
I’m sure that you’ve learnt a lot from the above tips. They will definitely go a long way and make your trips safer. They will… as long as your travel companions don’t compromise your safety. Remember that it doesn’t matter how well prepared you are and what precautionary measures you take, because if people you travel with don’t follow similar standards, you may encounter problems.
I’ve seen it happening several times. You can be the embodiment of common sense, but if your new friend decides to wear a flashy Armani outfit for a street party in Copacabana you may be in trouble. When you travel you inevitably meet new people with whom you will most likely be interacting for some period of time. Educate them and make sure they adhere to the rules that will allow them to be safe and sound.