In Part 1 of Low Budget Travel Tricks you learned to tame mother nature and battle armies of microscopic vampires, you, our nomadic hero. Though your path is still wroth with bandits and ruthless dragons who control the skies, yet still, you will overcome them. Leverage and luck on your side you’ll defeat these foes, allowing you to go on the offensive, but first to today’s battles.
Fight Off Attackers, Pickpockets, And Hotel Thieves
Prevention, awareness, and contingency are the basic steps to a robust security plan, whether you’re looking out for hackers or simply want to be prepared in case of a mugging. When it comes to your personal safety, knowing the streets or parts of town you might want to avoid (or just avoid at night) can go a long way in keeping you from assault. Hotels, hostels, and Tripadvisor are all good resources that can lessen your chances of ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Carry Only What You Need – I only carry a day pack if I’m hiking or looking for a cafe to get some work done. Otherwise, I leave my laptop and other valuables with wherever I’m staying. They’re safer there, no day pack often helps you blend in, plus it’s better for your back.
- Distribute Your Money On Your Person – A little bit of cash in your pockets, socks, underwear, bra, etc. means if someone picks your pocket, you’re not losing everything. A decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and an expired credit card can also protect you by fooling pickpockets.
- Catch The
BastardsCrooks – One of 4 ways to be shadier than a thief is to set a credit card trap:
“Keep this card (with no money in the account) in your decoy wallet. If it’s stolen call the credit card company or bank right away to let them know. In most countries the companies will keep close track to see where and if that card is used. If there happens to be a camera at the first place the pickpocket tries to use the card you may be in luck.”
The digital equivalent of a credit card trap is to use the free Project Prey on your laptop, mobile phone, and tablet.
Much like protecting the items on your person when you’re out and about – it’s a good idea to distribute your valuables. Make use of the safe in the room (no guarantee yet decent protection) but generally speaking, locking the zippers on your bags provides enough discouragement for opportunistic thieves. The first rule of security is that no security is absolute – you just need enough security to make a potential theft more risky than it’s worth to the thief.
- Create A Backpack Security Plan – Remember the layers of clothing that keep you warm and make your mom happy in Part 1 of this series? Well, layers will insulate your most valuable items against theft.
- Get Pacsafe Security Without A Pacsafe – That’s also much less conspicuous.
Overcome Physical Threats
Let’s start with an obvious one that’s easy to forget depending on where you’ve been traveling – keep your valuables out of sight. That means iPhones, which seem as common as grass these days, but don’t forget they’re a cool $600 that’s easily resold anywhere in the world. It’s tempting in taxis, buses, and while wandering the city streets to multi-task with a bit of texting or gloat to your friends (“I iz totally rockin Buenos Aires right now Jimmy”) but it’s not Jimmy that’s going to get jacked that way.
- Treat Your Gadgets Like Real Actors, Not Reality Stars – Meaning be picky about when they make an appearance.
- Uglify Your Things So They’re Not So Enticing – Wise Bread has an excellent guide on uglifying and some handy anecdotes from Brazil.
- Bring A Safety Whistle – This is one personal safety tip from Legal Nomads I can’t get enough of and Jodi’s got 3 good reasons to carry a whistle.
When it comes to personal safety though whether you’ve got formal training or not, these 3 insightful rules by Sam Harris could help you avoid being harmed physically.
Tomorrow in the third and final part of this series you’ll take down a frequent foe and battle your own demons to become the one to rule them all.
Anil, what an amazing article. There’s so much jam packed information in it about staying safe on the road that it will take me a long time to read it all, but I think I need to wade through every link!
Thank you Barbara; initially the series was going to be one long piece but now glad I broke it up into more digestible portions 🙂
Great safety travel advice! I’ve never experienced theft while abroad, but it’s pretty sad that your belongings aren’t 100% safe even in a hotel safe. I am very protective of my stuff, especially while out at bars or clubs. It’s also important to perhaps designate someone in your travel group to oversee purses, wallets etc, because partying can definitely make people more forgetful and careless with their belongings. Sometimes the solution you mentioned above of only bringing what you need doesn’t work, because travelers can’t always predict how much money they will need over the course of the night (i.e. taxi money, emergency money, change of plans).
True, but security can never be absolute. It is definitely a good idea if you’ll be in a group to have someone keep an eye out for you. When partying, the most sober person is usually the best choice 🙂
Over time though anticipating a good amount of money for an outing is a skill you tend to hone I suppose and varies depending on where specifically you’re going out.