I don’t give much thought to petty crime when I travel abroad. I’m well aware that it happens: I’ve been preaching about the importance of wearing a moneybelt for decades. And for decades — probably about a total of 4,000 days of travel — I’ve never been hit by a thief. Well, my happy streak finally ended: I was pickpocketed in Paris this summer.
It was my own fault: I wasn’t wearing my moneybelt — a small pouch worn at the waist under your clothes. I lost my driver’s license, credit cards, and some cash. I went back to my hotel, referred to the “in case of emergency” advice in my Paris guidebook, and set about canceling my credit cards. My experience just goes to show that, sooner or later, if you’re not on guard, wearing a moneybelt — or at least keeping everything properly zipped and buttoned — you’ll likely be a victim.
Thieves target tourists — not because the thieves are mean, but because they’re smart. We’re the ones with the good stuff in our purses and wallets. But don’t let the fear of groping grifters keep you from traveling. Besides wearing a moneybelt, here are some other tips for keeping your valuables safe:
Be prepared. Before you go, take steps to minimize your potential loss. Make copies or take photos of key documents, back up your digital data, and password-protect your devices. Consider getting theft insurance for expensive electronics (your homeowner’s insurance may already cover them). Leave your fancy bling at home. Luxurious luggage lures thieves: They’ll choose the most impressive suitcase in the pile — never mine.
Leave valuables behind. Expensive gear, such as your laptop, is much safer in your room than with you in a day bag on the streets. But don’t tempt sticky-fingered staff by leaving a camera or tablet in plain view — tuck your enticing items in a safe or at least well out of sight.
Limit access and stay vigilant. Thieves want to quickly separate you from your valuables, so even a minor obstacle can be an effective deterrent. If you’re sitting down to eat or rest, loop your day-bag strap around your arm, leg, or chair leg. A cable tie, paper clip, or key ring can help keep your bag zipped up tight. The…