Bob Arno’s Travel Safety Intelligence
Countless hours, packed like sardines on sweltering buses, trams, and trains, armed with hidden cameras and foreign languages, Bob Arno and Bambi Vincent forfeit the sights but prowl the perimeters in the world’s great travel spots, tracking the thieves who prey on you. Who are these elusive bottom-feeders? What do they look like? How do we find them? Why do they talk to us? What do we learn, and what do we do with the intelligence we gather? All this is in our book, Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams, and you can see a summary of international theft methods on our Thievery Primer page.
Thoughts and Theory on Thwarting Thieves
You research the weather, attractions, and accommodations of your destination before traveling. Make a few travel safety and anti-theft plans too, so your trip is stress-free.
1. Luggage should suit your trip and the contents it must protect. Know airline size and weight requirements, including for carry-on, especially on foreign carriers. If you’re forced to surrender your carry-on to be checked, remove valuables.
2. Use Travel Sentry luggage locks, which airport security can open if necessary.
3. Strip your wallet. Remove store credit and membership cards, and every trace of your Social Security number.
4. Travel with three credit cards (three different accounts) but keep one in your hotel safe as a backup.
5. Give your itinerary to your credit card companies so they’ll authorize out-of-pattern charges, but not beyond your instructions.
6. Wear hidden pouches for cash and credit cards; use wide-strapped shoulder bags for bulkier items.
7. Jewelry: Your trip may include glamour, but you should limit the jewelry you wear to the beach, the flea market, and on city streets. Store what you’re not wearing in the hotel room safe or, if there isn’t a safe, locked inside your largest hard-sided luggage.
8. Know the foreign currency exchange rates you’ll need before you leave home. Visit http://www.xe.net/currency/table.htm to download a current list, or get and update an app for your smartphone.
9. Smartphones: do not leave them, or wallets or cameras, on café tables. Thieves whisk them away as deftly as magicians.
10. Information backup: Send an email to yourself with attached copies of all your travel documents, including flights, hotels, itinerary, the first page of your passport, and the phone numbers of your credit card companies. You might also include your travelers’ check numbers and other important phone numbers. If you lose your documents, vital information is as close as the nearest internet access point. Be sure not to delete the email message during your travels!