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Category: Security

5 Pickpocket Tricks To Use Against Them When Traveling

aer travel pack 2

Part of any good security strategy is to learn from what the other side you’re trying to protect yourself from is doing. You can’t always avoid an elite pickpocket or completely prevent getting robbed at knife point – but what you can do though is minimize your losses by thinking like the criminal who wants to steal from you.

Your personal security plan needs to have many legs to stand on as well as distractions to keep your real valuables safe.

1. Distribute Your Money

Always distribute your valuables in several places when you travel. This include both on your person, in you bag, and your hostel or hotel room. Never keep all of your money in the same place. You can hide some emergency cash in deep in your socks, in the side of your underwear or in a bra and in your front pocket as well. While you may get robbed or pickpocketed you’ll have minimized your loses.

hotel room pakistan lahore falettis

For extreme circumstances do the same and have some money hidden in your hotel room too. Some in the safe if there is one and inside of a dirty sock in your laundry. Have kids? Their toys make great hiding spots.

2. Use A Decoy

Your wallet is the first target of any pickpocket so make it where you keep your least valuable stuff. Put in a small (but not tiny amount) of money along with some of those inactive (or expired) credit cards you get in the mail. If you don’t get any in the mail cancel your current card and request a new one from your bank – instant decoy. Include a student ID or some other photo identification with no personal information on it. A wallet without an ID might give you away.

trove wallet

Make sure your wallet doesn’t have sentimental value and never keep important things in a big purse – they are very easy targets.

3. Set a Trap

A decoy can be a way to potentially set a trap for a pickpocket. It won’t work in all places but if your bank offers a free checking account or credit card with no fees and is free open one up. 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.

ridge wallet

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.

4. Make Your Things Ugly

There are several techniques on how to make uglify your camera but the same premise goes for all of your valuable electronics. Get over the need to keep your things shiny since they won’t do you any good if they’re enticing and get stolen. Stickers, worn duct tape, and ugly carry bags work too.

red iphone 11

Oh, and that iPhone – be careful where you flash it. If you’re traveling in a place and worried about the area bring along the cheapest, oldest Nokia you can find and save the Twittering until you can get back to the hotel.

5. Set Up A Camera System

Hotel rooms can be vulnerable spots for your stuff and not all come with safes. You can though use an old smartphone as a security camera to monitor your things and get an alert if anything is disturbed. Also, while we’re at it, always use a “Do Not Disturb” sign and only have your room cleaned while you’re in it (and have packed away your valuables beforehand).

Be Creative and Add More Legs

There are plenty more ways to be shadier than thieves – be creative! Unique hiding spots, zipping your backpack like this, and other tricks are fun to come up with and there are almost an unlimited number of them. The important thing it to have more than one self-security plan and have your strategy stand on many legs so you always have a backup or two.

This is an updated version of a post I originally shared for a now-defunct travel blog in 2009.

Why The World Needs Tourism Back But Better This Time

seward alaska

Look, traveling won’t make you an enlightened person or justify long drawn out soliloquies on Instagram under a photo of your butt sticking out. Traveling in many ways is a narcissistic clout grab phenomena. But underneath it, tourism is a crusty glue between the table legs of international relations barely keeping it from completely tipping over.

Here’s why the world needs tourism, improved.

Pandemic Experiment

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many things. We’re destroying the natural world. Teleworking is feasible, preferable, and office life should die a quick death. We also got to see a year without travel. No, I don’t care about your tone deaf selfies in front of war memorials but rather want you to look at the globe. Take all those borders around the countries and you might as well make them walls.

Some have actually become walls. It turns out an interconnected planet might be keeping humanity from totally annihilating itself.

Civil Unrest On The Rise

According to the Global Peace Index, 2021 has been a year of civil unrest. Part of that is the stress the pandemic has put on governments. Yes, many of them suck at governing. Free flowing capital from tourism and commerce has highlighted why a social safety net paid with your taxes (but not these guys for some reason) is a good idea.

The pandemic has been a catalyst to some major problems. A world slowly cooking itself thanks to climate change, populist leaders helping themselves, refugees being used as human ammunition, the world is now in desperate need of tourism and the interaction understanding and connection is creates.

However small personally, economically, and ethically, the world needs tourism back in a new way.

Dictating Currencies

An economic crunch might be harming corrupt governments but it’s people who are feeling the pain. Aide to refugees and people in conflict zones has been severely hampered by the pandemic according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). This, in a year that’s seen refugee numbers increase by 4% and conflict in half or the world’s countries. Poaching of elephants in places like Sumatra has increased too as locals desperate for money are hunting the species into extinction. (They say trophy hunting brings in a lot of cash to Africa. In South Africa, it’s less than half of one percent. Let’s do away with it.)

empty national mall

Many travelers would be willing to pay to see these and other animals in their natural environment. Perhaps, in between selfies, a fraction of understanding is gained too. One that can be shared to others, even if by osmosis or inspiration. Maybe there is a better way to run this planet and see all its wonders.

It’s Humanizing

Speaking from experience when you’ve been to places like Yemen or Ukraine or anywhere for that matter they becomes less “they” and more that child who shyly asked to take a selfie with me. Whatever happened to them? Those people being pushed into barbed wire fences are people like me and you because you’ve met them.

The world gets smaller the more you travel. This should be the purpose of tourism. Not shopping in another country because it’s so much cheaper than home. That’s just dumping your money in another nation without having to live there and face whatever the government does or doesn’t do with it.

Traveling should facilitate understanding otherwise you’re just being the same old idiot somewhere else. But as governments open up for tourism, tourists should be more cognizant of where they’re going. Why it may be so cheap. And who the people are that live there. We’ve seen what a world without tourism is like and it’s certainly worse off but we don’t have to go back to the old way of doing things. We can, and should, travel smarter.

Use This Backpack Zipper Trick To Stop Pickpockets

Being out of your direct line of sight backpacks are often your most vulnerable accessory while typically are carrying our most valuable stuff. Fortunately there’s a simple zipper trick that relies on alignment that can seriously hamper the plans of most pickpockets.

Zip Up Top

The simple way to deter pickpockets from your backpack is to zip the zippers up at the top, not on the sides. Zipping up top helps deter pickpockets since access to the interior becomes much more awkward as someone would have to go up and over with their hands to get in… not exactly the most stealthy approach.

Why This Works

Pickpockets don’t want to be noticed either by your or the people around you. All it takes is one person sounding the alarm and that’s the end of a theft. Empty handed or not it could lead to them getting caught so typically pickpockets go to the easiest target in a group. (Think of a lion hunting the slowest wildebeest around.) Your backpack security system doesn’t have to be the best, just better that everyone who’s near you.

backpack zipper trick

Another reason having your zippers up top is ideal placement is because any movement of the zippers in this area will lead to movement of the shoulder straps. As you can see in the video here, your shoulders and lower back are the most sensitive places a backpack makes contact with your body. Because of this you’re much more likely to feel movement in those areas if a crook is fiddling with your bag.

Heavy On The Bottom

To further improve your backpack security structure place your more valuable items as low and close to your back as possible. It’s tempting to put your most frequently used items toward the top of your backpack for easy access (especially if you’re are zipping up top) but there are two reasons not to. First, assuming your zipped up top, if some daring thief does make an attempt they’ll could be hitting something expensive right away.

Second (as you may have guessed) your lower back is more sensitive to movement than the middle. Put in a few layers of bag pockets in between and now your camera, computer, dirty passports and everything else is a lot more secure.

Of course a backpack with durable YKK zippers like the Aer Travel Pack 2 or even stronger military grade GORUCK will further protect your bag from attacks on the zippers themselves.

How To Check For Hidden Cameras And Microphones In Your Vacation Rental, Hotel, Or Airbnb

Hidden cameras in hotel rooms and Airbnbs are much more common than we’d like to think but common enough that you should do a thorough surveillance sweep before settling in. Most people aren’t bug sweeping security experts though there are a number of lessons you can use from them to find concealed devices that could be recording you.

As you can see in the video above where I went through a rental that had devices hidden in it, knowing what to look for is as important as where.

The Threats

We tend to think of cameras first but hidden microphones can be trickier to detect since they don’t need a line of sight. A simple pen could be a microphone in disguise so don’t easily dismiss many common items. Another favorite for Airbnb owners are USB ports that plug into a wall. Those wall chargers can charge your phone but come with a hidden camera that can be very difficult to notice if you’re not looking for it.

Your own mind is working against you so be familiar with the common threats but don’t assume they’re the only ones. (Stuffed animals, alarm clocks, smoke detectors… there are many possibilities.) To be a good bug sweeper, you have to think creatively.

Visual Inspection

Hidden cameras need a line of sight to get footage. Start with the places someone might want to film, the bedroom, bathroom, and common areas. Look at the angles a lens would need to be placed to film the larger parts of rooms or sensitive areas (near a shower). Walk around, making a careful inspection before you unpack your bags.

airbnb rental

Take a note of shelves, vents, or any cracks in wood panels or otherwise dark hiding places that have a line of sight.

Scan The Network

Once you’ve completed your visual inspection, logon to the rental’s wifi network with your phone. Using Net Analyzer scan to see how many other devices are connecting to the network. Minus you phone and any obvious devices like a smart TV, be wary if there are many more devices than you can account for.

Also note any networks that have a very similar name, for example RentalWifi1 and RentalWifiPrivate. Separate wifi networks could be used to hide surveillance devices from the network you happen to be on and common names could be a clue more than one network is in use.

Now that you’ve narrowed things down visually and wirelessly, the next step is to use a bug sweeper.

Sweep Like A Pro

I’ve written about a consumer grade bug sweeper you can use and how to properly scan with one. Those of you who watched the video above know that these devices do work in real-world situations if used properly and with a careful eye.

Remember to check the policies of the rental you’re staying in and the service you’re using since many allow for common areas to be recorded. (Though they hardly advertise that fact.) Still if you end up finding any surveillance device, get in touch with the company and get as much evidence as you can through photos of your own.

As for your legal options, it’s still a grey area in many districts so be wary of any temporary accommodation, especially before you do a bug sweep.

Asking Demonstrators Why They Attended The Million MAGA March

The Million MAGA “Make America Great Again” March didn’t draw a million people to Washington D.C. but it did bring with it thousands who show the divide in the United States. Compared to the widespread party D.C. turned into after the election was called for Joe Biden, MAGA marchers were a demonstration of the ideological contrast in the nation.

I walked through the crowds, asking why people were attending the MAGA March – you can hear their replies in the video above. Since I published that video the reactions have been as divisive as the march itself. Some were upset that I didn’t counter the claims or add an opposing opinion.

I may go more in depth into the controversy on an upcoming foXoMad Podcast episode but these are pro-Trump supporters in their own words. They speak for themselves but depending on who’s listening it’s either disturbing or encouraging; a division which ultimately surprised me. It’s worth noting the demonstrators were more diverse than I expected, defiant, and as the evening wore on some turned to violence.

Some of you may have rather I not have made this video. Despite what many in the crowd think, on January 20th Donald Trump will no longer be president yet the march is a reminder that 72 million voted for him. A significant percentage of whom believe were it not for an election conspiracy Trump would have won a second term.

What It’s Like Visiting A Gun Show In America

There are over 60 gun shows in the United States over a given weekend and I attended one that takes place right outside of Washington D.C. The Nation’s Gun Show is a large expo where people can purchase firearms but there’s a lot more than just weapons which keeps bringing people back.

You can see my experience in the video above or read on.

Pandemic Interest

Gun sales have surged since the coronavirus pandemic and every state can regulate gun shows based on their individual mandates. In Virginia, where The Nation’s Gun Show takes place, masks were mandatory indoors and most in line outside were wearing them. Signs reminding people to social distance were conspicuous as were those saying “Enter At Your Own Risk” due to Covid-19.

the nation's gun show

The large halls inside the Dulles Expo Center gave people plenty of space when walking around – the show was busy but not crowded – but most of the congregating was around the gun vendor tables. In particular, around the semi-automatic gun vendor tables.

Looking Around

None of the guns were loaded – vendors or otherwise; there were signs stating not to bring loaded firearms inside – but a few visitors wearing bulletproof vests with rifles strapped to their backs. A bit unnerving at first if you’re not used to being around so many guns but after a short while that feeling wears off. Vendors (notably younger ones) taking apart guns for assembly demonstrations, answering questions about ranges, use, gun quarks… all of what you might expect at a gun show.

the nation's gun show

Surrounding that though were booths explaining the gun laws in various states, as well the regulations for Washington D.C. Cards were handed out in line explaining the gun laws in Virginia, where you can carry a gun, open-carry, concealed, what those terms mean.

Gun Culture

Looking back at you around the gun show are soldiers from the paintings of Civil War battles, America’s Founding Fathers with quotes about freedom and liberty underneath their portraits. As you move around the show floor with the crackle of tasers being demonstrated in the background, vendors come up and ask if you’re registered to vote.

The Republican banners around the voter registration booths, not to mention plentiful Donald Trump banners around, make it obvious who most of the vendors are supporting in any given election. After registering to vote, you can vote for whoever you want in an election, but the idea is to get as many people voting as possible. At The Nation’s Gun Show though, the biggest barrier to voting in the U.S. – registration – is made easy and extremely likely to mean a vote for a Republican candidate.

Revisiting The Show

The Nation’s Gun Show is a large 3 day event but it’s not all gun sales keeping it from recurring once a month on average. There’s a lot more than weapons on a sale here, it’s a community not too unlike other forms of fandom. Guns might get you through the door the first time but everything surrounding them back over and over again.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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