10 Keys to avoid robberies while traveling

We all know the excitement that comes with a trip, as well as the great effort and dedication it requires. It takes a whole year of hard work to save up and enjoy the trip of our dreams during our long-awaited vacation. However, despite planning every last detail, if we become victims of a robbery, our entire vacation can be ruined. Imagine being in a foreign country and falling prey to a theft. This would mean:

  1. Lost hours spent filing a report and urgently obtaining provisional documents from the consulate or embassy to at least return home.
  2. Financial loss from stolen cash and belongings, as well as possible unauthorized charges on your credit card.
  3. Having to cancel all your cards and request duplicates of all your documents.
  4. Loss of information and data stored on your mobile phone and computer, including personal photos and documents.
  5. No means of contact or ability to seek help if our phone is stolen.
  6. Not having spare clothes to change into.

All of this can lead to a shift from a good mood to a state of absolute sadness and worry. Undoubtedly, our vacation will be ruined, and even if we still have days and money left for our trip, those who have experienced such situations admit that it is impossible to enjoy anything and, in some cases, it’s best to return home.

But there’s no need to worry because by applying a series of preventive habits and behaviors, we can minimize the risk of being robbed and enjoy our perfect vacation. Here are the 10 keys to achieving this:


1. Anti-theft suitcases and garments

Let’s face it, no matter how cautious we are, it’s impossible to constantly be vigilant of our pockets and belongings. While we should exercise caution, common sense, and preventive behavior, if a professional pickpocket wants to rob us, rest assured they will find their opportunity. Moreover, during a trip, we are on vacation, and we shouldn’t have to constantly worry about being robbed. After all, we want to relax and enjoy ourselves. Therefore, the best way to virtually eliminate the possibility of being robbed is to avoid giving them the opportunity by using anti-theft suitcases and garments. Here are some examples:

Anti-theft suitcases and backpacks: There are currently suitcases on the market with all their zippers hidden on the back (facing our backs). This means that as long as we have the backpack on, it will be impossible for anyone to steal from us because the zippers are not visible to others, and even if they knew their location, they wouldn’t be able to open them as they are inaccessible. In this link, we present an innovative and reasonably priced anti-theft backpack for men and women. It is also waterproof and has a built-in USB charger, allowing you to charge your phone anywhere by connecting it to a power bank you have, without needing to stay close to an outlet, which is very useful for traveling!

Therefore, we can feel safe and at ease while carrying our backpack with us. When we need something, we simply take it out and access it through the zippers, which will always be visible to us for as long as we want to extract something. Afterward, we just put it back on.

The only risk would be when sitting in a restaurant or café, but by applying a minimum amount of common sense and caution, we won’t have any problems. Simply leave the suitcase or backpack in an inaccessible corner or out of sight, upside down so that the zippers are hidden and inaccessible. This will be enough to prevent any surprises.

Finally, it’s worth noting the wide range of products available for these types of suitcases and backpacks, offering various designs and functionalities: colors, options for both men and women, different textures, waterproofing, emergency electrical charging, etc.

Hidden interior pockets: For storing wallets and phones, it may be inconvenient to use an anti-theft backpack that we have to take off and put back on all the time. In that case, it’s better to use garments with hidden interior pockets that are not visible and inaccessible to others, such as jackets, coats, vests, etc.

Anti-theft belts: Especially during summer, it may be challenging to find garments with hidden interior pockets since they are typically found in coats and jackets. Therefore, our best option is an anti-theft belt. These belts are lightweight, won’t bother or make us feel hot, and have some elasticity that allows us to access the interior through a hidden zipper, which will remain inaccessible to others while wearing the belt. If you’re interested in purchasing one, you can find a high-quality anti-theft belt at an unbeatable price in the following link.

Fanny packs: Traditional waist packs are a good solution because when worn in front of our waist, preferably hidden under our shirt, it’s highly unlikely that someone can steal from us. In the rare event of an attempted theft, it would be hard not to notice it.


2. Keep your wallet well-guarded

Always keep your wallet in a hidden and inaccessible place. Use the anti-theft backpacks and clothing mentioned earlier, and you won’t have any problems.

Never leave your wallet on the table in a restaurant or café, even if you’re sitting right next to it and only for a moment to pay. Remember that someone could be observing you from afar, waiting for the opportunity to snatch it and run. So, when paying, take out your wallet and keep it in your hand at all times.


3. Protect your mobile phone and camera

When using your mobile phone, keep it in your hand, and when you’re not using it, store it in a hidden and hard-to-reach pocket. Never leave it on the table, even if you’re present, as there are organized groups that take advantage of these moments to steal your phone. No matter how quick you are, the surprise and the fact that you’re seated will make it impossible to catch them. Additionally, exercise extra caution when visiting crowded places, especially in queues and public transportation. Never use your phone when standing near the opening doors of public transportation, as thieves take advantage of the moment the doors are closing to snatch it, leaving you trapped inside without any chance of retrieving your phone.

As for cameras, use the security straps that come with them. They serve their purpose! In highly crowded tourist areas, be extremely cautious.


4. Avoid looking like a tourist

The first step to avoid being targeted is to not make it obvious that you have money or valuable possessions such as a mobile phone. If it’s clear that you’re a tourist, it’s evident that you’re carrying a phone and money. Follow these tips:

  • Don’t carry a map in your hand: Use your mobile phone instead. It’s more convenient and won’t attract attention.
  • Avoid wearing souvenir clothing or eccentric costumes: For example, residents in Barcelona won’t be wearing a shirt that says “I love Barcelona” or a Mexican sombrero. It’s obvious that someone wearing such items is a tourist.
  • Don’t speak loudly: If you’re speaking a foreign language and you speak loudly, it will become apparent that you’re a tourist based on the context of the situation (being cheerful, accompanied, not dressed for work, etc.).


5. Know where you’re going

When traveling to a foreign country, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the place you’re visiting. Not all countries are the same, nor are their cities or neighborhoods. Follow these guidelines to adapt your behavior accordingly and maximize your safety:

  • Research the situation in foreign countries. Some countries have high levels of kidnappings, requiring special precautions and constant companionship. Not to mention countries with a terrorist presence or high levels of criminal gangs, where your own embassy may advise against traveling under any circumstances.
  • For exotic countries compared to your own, gather as much information as possible about their culture, especially if you’re a woman. Unfortunately, there is widespread misogyny nowadays, but some countries are particularly dangerous for women, and it is advisable to travel in groups and take certain precautions. Even during daylight, there have been cases of harassment, unauthorized photography, and, in extreme cases, sexual assault.
  • In any city you visit, there are highly troubled and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Avoid passing through them or at least gather information to take precautions if you must go.
  • Regrettably, at all tourist destinations worldwide, there are professional pickpockets ready to ruin your vacation. They represent a minuscule percentage of the local population, but in densely populated areas, especially in large cities, there are many criminals. Therefore, find out about the hotspots with high robbery rates and exercise extreme caution when passing through them.


6. Packing and locking your checked luggage

In no way do we intend to denigrate the profession of baggage handlers at airports. The reality is that it is a hard job, not very well paid, and the vast majority of professionals in this field are honest. However, we have to be realistic and admit the evidence: there are people in this profession who frequently steal from luggage; this is the reality, confirmed by statistics.

Therefore, try to carry all your luggage as carry-on and avoid checking any bags. This will save you the cost of your ticket and potential troubles. However, if you have a long journey ahead and have no other option but to check a bag, follow these guidelines:

  • It is recommended to use locks on your luggage to mitigate this risk or simply use a suitcase with a built-in lock, as shown in the following link. When potential thieves see it, they will give up their attempt and wait for another opportunity. Also, make sure to use a lock on your carry-on luggage. Even though you have it under your control, it could be tampered with when boarding the plane, and you may lose sight of it.
  • If you are traveling to a country with high levels of corruption where you have received third-party information about theft from checked luggage, consider using luggage wrapping services. For a low cost, you can have your bag wrapped in such a way that it becomes impossible for anyone to tamper with it. If anyone were to manipulate it, it would be completely evident, and you could file a claim upon arrival at your destination airport.
  • Try to carry your most valuable items in your carry-on luggage, as long as they are allowed through security checkpoints.


7. Avoid scams and fraud

You must be aware that as a tourist, you are a direct target for scammers and fraudsters, as you possess two essential characteristics:

  • You have money: As a tourist, you will have to make payments for hotels, restaurants, activities, museums, etc. It is evident that you have money.
  • You are unaware of the veracity of any information given to you: For example, if someone claims to represent a prominent local NGO and asks for money, you won’t know if it’s real or not since it will be the first time you encounter it.

To avoid these scams, in general, you can protect yourself by being well-informed about your destination and activities, and by applying common sense and caution. To familiarize yourself with potential scams and avoid falling into traps, here are some of the most common scams targeting tourists:

  • Offers to take your photo: If someone you don’t know suddenly appears and offers to take your photo while you’re taking a selfie, decline their assistance. Once you hand over your mobile phone or camera, they will run away with your belongings.
  • Fake taxi drivers with inflated prices and unnecessary detours: Research beforehand to know the average taxi fares and the actual distance of your routes, so you can estimate a fair price. If you notice that the driver is trying to overcharge you, suggest having a police officer verify the situation, and you’ll see how quickly the story changes. Also, try to appear familiar with the country or city and convey that it’s not your first visit.
  • Closed or inaccessible accommodation: The person responsible for taking you to your accommodation may inform you that it is closed, there are construction works, or any other excuse to offer you alternative accommodation where they receive a commission. Decline such offers and, if they refuse to take you to your original accommodation, find another driver.
  • Free gifts: Do not accept anything offered as a gift, as they will likely ask for a tip in return or attempt to steal from you while giving it to you.
  • Ticket resale scams: Purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid queues, and if that’s not possible, always buy them directly from the ticket office, never from a stranger on the street, as they are likely to be fake or charge you a significantly higher price.
  • Incorrect change: Familiarize yourself with the currency of the country you’re visiting and, when making payments, be clear about the price and the correct change you should receive. Scammers may intentionally give you less change than you are owed.
  • False customs fees: In countries with high corruption levels, it is common for authorities themselves to attempt to charge you false and illegal fees. Before traveling to a foreign country, gather information about the actual customs fees, if they exist at all.
  • Currency exchange scams: You may be offered very favorable exchange rates, but then hidden commissions, counterfeit bills, incorrect amounts, etc., may come into play. It is recommended to exchange a small amount of cash in your home country for emergencies and pay the rest of your expenses with a credit card, as it is safer and more economical. If you have no choice but to exchange money because you need cash, compare the offered rate with the official exchange rate, considering additional fees. A good exchange rate should have a margin of 3%-5%, an acceptable rate between 5%-10%, and a poor rate between 10%-15%. Anything higher is an abuse, so try to exchange money elsewhere, preferably at a bank.
  • Menu without prices: Never agree to order anything without a menu with prices, as they can later charge you whatever they want.
  • Counterfeit products: Be suspicious of great bargains in bazaars and street stalls, as they are likely to be counterfeit.
  • Fake police officers: Be extremely cautious of fines for errors in your passport, checks of your cash for counterfeit money (they will obviously run away after you hand it over), or any other absurd situations. To avoid falling for these scams, pay attention to the official uniform of the police officers to avoid being deceived. In any case, apply common sense, and if you have doubts, you can always request to speak with their superior at a police station.
  • Requests for help: Someone unexpectedly asks for your help, for example, a woman hands you her baby for a moment. Seconds later, the person takes the baby back, and minutes later, you realize that your pockets are empty: accomplices have stolen from you while you were holding the baby. For this reason, exercise caution when a stranger approaches you with any excuse.
  • Fake NGOs: If you want to make a donation, ask for the website, and verify the legitimacy of the NGO from your home before making a transfer to their actual account.


8. Preventing credit card fraud

Regarding debit or credit cards, you can basically encounter two types of fraud:

  • Card skimming: It is possible that when you make a payment, someone takes your card to the counter or back room to process the payment. Refuse this and insist on paying with the card in sight at the point of sale terminal (POS). If you notice that they are not following this practice, it is better to pay in cash to avoid risks. This way, you prevent them from duplicating your card or copying the card details for online purchases.
  • Double charges or higher prices: When you are being charged, the cashier may intentionally or mistakenly duplicate the charge or change a digit. Pay attention to the POS receipt and verify that the amount matches the price you should pay. Additionally, utilize the mobile alert services that many banks offer for free. Whenever a transaction is made on your card, you will receive an SMS with the amount charged immediately. This way, if there is an error or deception, you can notice it and report it right away. Otherwise, you may only realize it when you return to your country and review your account, making it more difficult to dispute the transaction.


9. Luggage storage service

If you don’t have accommodation until a specific time or if you have to check out from your accommodation but your flight is much later, it’s not advisable to carry all your luggage around the city. This increases the risk of having a suitcase stolen and can be extremely inconvenient. It’s recommended to use a luggage storage service. In moderately large cities, you can find multiple establishments that offer secure luggage storage for a very low price. This way, you can travel comfortably without risking possible theft.


10. Safe in your hotel or apartment

Some accommodations offer a safe in the room for free. Take advantage of this service and use it to store your most valuable belongings, documents you don’t need to carry with you, money you won’t be spending that day, etc.


Final advice to prevent theft and robbery

While Traveling: By following all the previously mentioned tips, the risk of theft will be minimal or practically nonexistent. However, you can take the following measures to minimize losses and problems in case you become a victim of theft or robbery:

  • Distribute your money: If you’re traveling with someone, each person should carry a portion of the money, preferably stored in different places (preferably hidden and inaccessible pockets). In case of theft, you will only lose a portion of the money instead of everything.
  • Emergency phone numbers: Depending on the country you’re visiting, have emergency contact numbers with you, such as emergency services, police, your accommodation, your embassy, your tour operator, etc.
  • Keep your documents as safe as possible: Your documents ensure your timely return to your country. Otherwise, you may encounter serious problems when trying to obtain temporary documents urgently. Always keep your documents in the safest place possible. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have photocopies of them. In case of theft, these copies may be accepted under certain circumstances, such as for currency exchange or when requesting accommodation at a hotel.
  • Travel with what you need: It’s good to carry a bit more than necessary in case of emergencies, but use common sense. If you plan to spend $1,000, there’s no need to carry $2,000. If you only need a credit card to rent a car for 300 dollars, there’s no need to carry a gold card with a limit of 6,000 dollars.
  • Consider travel insurance recommendations: If you are traveling for an extended period to a country with a high risk of foodborne illnesses, inadequate emergency medical services, or an extremely high robbery rate, it may be a good idea to purchase travel insurance. For a low cost, you will have extensive coverage and be able to travel with security and peace of mind.