Pack a Smidge of Cynicism to Thwart Thieves
13 Tips for the Cynic
“Pappy’s got a sting laying in the bed.” Translation: that middle-aged male who’s a little wide around the middle and therefore has loose trouser pockets, has a wallet laying sideways in his back pocket. But that’s no challenge for the dip. He’ll just kick the poke — turn the wallet in a preliminary move. And no, the victim will not feel it.
Strategy for travel safety:
1. Don’t flash your cash. Use a credit card for most purchases. You’ll save on currency exchange commissions, too.
2. Travel with three credit cards (three different accounts) but keep one in your hotel safe.
3. Dress down. The thief doesn’t know the rocks in your ears are CZs; neither does he want them. But he’ll assume there’s wealth in your wallet and take an extra risk to get it.
4. Double-check that you have removed every trace of your Social Security number from your wallet.
5. Women: Keep your purse closed and in front of your body. Don’t hang it on your back, on the back of a chair, or put it on the floor.
6. Men: carry your wallet in your tightest pocket, or, better yet, carry cash and credit cards in a thin pouch that hangs from your belt inside your trousers. Wrapping a rubber band around the wallet makes it easier for the thief to grab, and compresses it so it slides out of the pocket without catching.
7. You are most vulnerable in crowded situations, like shopping in busy stores, getting on public transportation, and waiting to cross a congested intersection. In crowds, hold your purse securely, or keep your hand on your wallet.
8. Airports are more secure these days, but thieves still prey around baggage carousels, lifting luggage and picking pockets while distracted travelers heft their bags.
9. Be alert to the stranger who gets unnecessarily close. Protect your personal sphere.
10. Be kind to strangers, but keep a good grip on your valuables at the same time. Strategist thieves create devious scenarios to divert your attention or gain your confidence (hence: “con artist”).
11. Nurture your inner kernel of cynicism and tune in to your own alarm bells. Be wary of the unknown person who suddenly wants to be your friend — the stranger who wants your confidence.
12. Just in case: write down your credit card account numbers and the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost. Leave the information in your largest luggage, not in your purse or wallet.
13. As an ultimate emergency aid, send a pre-trip email to yourself with attached copies of all your travel documents, including the first two pages of your passport. Include your hotel information, 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!
- See Thoughts and Theory on Thwarting Thieves.
- See our country-specific theft methods and avoidance, and tips for women.
- Want more? Check out our book: Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams