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Safety When Traveling: Protection Against Theft and Robbery

JalanJalanMen! - On our trip around the world and during our vacations, we have already traveled to many countries and have never been mugged or robbed. Although we were also traveling in critical countries in terms of safety, such as Brazil or Mexico, everything always went well. Before our trip around the world in 2017, we dealt very intensively with the topic of safety when traveling and bought some useful travel gadgets. We have also developed our own travel safety rules while travelling. We always try to stick to it, because we believe that it can significantly reduce the risk of mugging, theft or robbery when traveling. Since we have always been on the right track with these safety rules, we would like to share them with you. 

Safety When Traveling: Protection Against Theft and Robbery

1. Avoid critical neighborhoods or regions

You can now easily find out from travel blogs, travel vlogs or the Foreign Office which parts of the city or regions you should avoid in certain cities or countries. Just stick to it strictly to reduce the risk of mugging, robbery or theft. Critical districts are often considered dangerous even during the day. Just try to avoid these regions completely so you don't take any risks.

2. Avoid going out after dark

Never go out after dark in countries or cities with high crime rates. Or approach it slowly, which means that you can look at the situation during the day or at dusk over several days. Then you will find out pretty quickly whether you would have a good feeling walking along here in the dark or not.

In cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City or Delhi, we strictly adhered to being back at our accommodation after dark. In Rio, for example, after a few days we had an absolutely good gut feeling, so that we were out and about on the Copacabana in the dark, even in the evening. But only there, because there are a lot of tourists here, it is well lit and generally very lively and lively. 

Unfortunately we had a negative experience in Delhi. We had planned far too little time to be back in the accommodation before dark. So we were still sitting in an Uber car when it was already getting dark. On the outskirts of Delhi, the Uber driver suddenly stopped and claimed that his car was broken and asked us to get out because he couldn't take us any further. It was already pitch black outside and the area we were standing in was very poor and didn't look very inviting or safe. In addition, our mobile phone battery was almost empty and there was no bus stop or metro access to be seen far and wide. With the last percent of the cell phone battery, we still managed to order another Uber car and negotiated with our driver,

The new Uber driver was super nice, very trustworthy and told us that this is often a scam by drivers who don't want to drive too far away because then they won't get any new trips. Luckily, the situation didn't end well, but it was clearly our own fault, since we should have allowed for much more time and should have made our way home much earlier.

3. Book flights, trains or buses so that you always arrive in daylight

When you travel from one place or country to the next, you always have all your luggage and valuables with you. Logically, people see that. So they know that theoretically everything could be picked up, because even a backpacker who only travels with a rucksack will certainly have a credit card, a cell phone and possibly an expensive camera, an I Pad or even a laptop with him.

We know there is a temptation to travel at night, as you can often save a lot of money by catching a flight or train late at night. However, you are definitely saving in the wrong place here, namely at the expense of your security.

In so-called "first-world-countries", such as the USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc., you can consider traveling at night. However, you should strictly avoid it in dangerous or poor countries or when you travel alone.

We had such an experience in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. We thought the city was relatively safe and modern, so after midnight we walked from the bus terminal to our accommodation with all our luggage. During the day, Kuala Lumpur also makes a completely safe and modern impression. At night, however, the city is deserted, there is absolutely no life on the streets and you only meet very creepy, weird people. At that moment we felt really weird and we were annoyed that we didn't follow our rules about safety when traveling. 

4. Always lock your valuables away

It doesn't matter whether you stay in a hotel, hostel, shared room or AirBnB. Always secure your valuables. Even if no safe or locker is available, there is always the possibility to secure your valuables with the Pascafe*. The Pacsafe* is one of our favorite travel gadgets and we really use it on every trip. We even used it in the car when we went to the beach but didn't want to take our valuables with us. Speaking of valuables…

5. Leave your valuables at the accommodation

Heed this point especially if you are traveling in "dangerous" cities or countries such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, etc. Here, too, you should approach it slowly. On the first day you should absolutely not take any valuables with you in such cities. Put as much money as you need in your trouser pockets, take a mobile phone with you (not necessarily the new iPhone) and leave everything else in the accommodation (eg in the Pacsafe*). If you have a good gut feeling and think you can assess the situation well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your camera with you the next day, for example. Nevertheless, you should not show your valuables openly. In critical cities, pack your camera in a bag or jute bag, for example.Never go out with that fat camera bag. 

We saw a tourist walking along the beach at Copacabana in Rio with two fat SLR cameras around his neck. Sorry folks, but if someone likes that gets mugged... it's your own fault! 

Of course, one should also differentiate from city to city and country to country. Of course, there are also numerous places in the world where you can easily walk along the beach with your camera around your neck. 

6. Use Uber

Uber is one of the safest modes of transportation that you can use when traveling. We have to admit that when we first met Uber a few years ago, we were totally skeptical because you get into strangers' cars. Pretty crazy, right? Because that's exactly what you're warned about throughout your childhood.

Ultimately, however, it is very safe, because the drivers are registered with their data and your route is tracked precisely using the app, which is not the case when driving a taxi, for example. Additionally, you can share your ride with your friends so they know where you are. In addition, Uber has the great advantage that you cannot be ripped off, since the fare is fixed in advance. 

7. Take less cash with you and go to the ATM more often

Get a credit card that doesn't charge you any fees and withdraw small amounts from the ATM more often before you end up with too much cash.

8. Secure your luggage with a combination lock

On long bus or train journeys, or especially on night journeys where you will most likely sleep, it is a good idea to secure your luggage with a small combination lock*. Your valuables, such as credit cards, passport, etc. are best kept close to your body (eg in this fanny pack*), while you probably stow your camera, iPad or laptop in your carry-on backpack. You should secure your valuables with a combination lock* so that no stranger can gain access to them quietly. 

We also recommend doing this with the backpack between your legs. Because we have heard stories where the person behind has reached under the seat to get to the backpack to get to the valuables stored in it. Something like this certainly doesn't happen on every bus ride, but it's safer than sorry and with this safety measure you will definitely be able to sleep more relaxed.

Many backpackers even secure the large rucksack with a combination lock*, which is stowed in the luggage compartment at the bottom, for example on bus trips. Certainly also a good way to protect your belongings, but we always ask ourselves whether it doesn't attract thieves even more when there is a lock on the backpack? And to be honest, you hardly have any valuables in a big backpack anyway, right? We can live with having a pair of socks or flip flops stolen from us. :-) 

9. Don't draw attention

Walk around as inconspicuously as possible. That means leave your jewelry, expensive clothes, fat camera bags, etc. in the accommodation. Also try to attract attention as little as possible with expensive items, such as your camera. It's best to only take out the camera when you want to take a picture and pack it away again immediately afterwards. Avoid walking halfway through the city with your smartphone in hand and Google Maps. You can hardly present yourself more obviously and vulnerable than the classic tourist who wanders aimlessly through the city and doesn't know his way around. 

Of course, this mainly applies to critical areas or cities. However, it never hurts to worry about such situations, because even in western modern cities such as Barcelona, ​​such a security measure makes sense.

10. Save important numbers in your cell phone

If it should actually happen that you are robbed or robbed, you will certainly be in shock at first and don't know what to do now. So that you are not completely lost and aimless, because the situation is already overwhelming anyway, it makes a lot of sense to save important contact numbers in your cell phone. It is even better to remember the most important numbers, such as the blocking hotline for credit cards, or to write them down somewhere else, for example in your backpack, as it could well be that the mobile phone was stolen. 

For example, we left a note with our parents with all the important numbers and information, because you always know the landline number at home in an emergency. 

11. Never resist

Another very important point that you should heed in case of a raid is this. never resist If the perpetrator demands money or valuables from you, give him everything. What is more important to you? Your money or your life?

In most cases you get off lightly, because the perpetrators probably have no intention of killing someone directly on the street. Most of the time they really just want money and valuables. 

12. Get yourself a fake wallet

Many travelers swear by this tip and buy a so-called fake wallet in which they only have some cash and expired or worthless credit cards. In the event of a robbery, you can hand over this wallet instead of your "real" wallet. Certainly an idea to minimize the risk of theft, but we are personally skeptical about this tip.  

Our tip, which we also used on our road trip through Mexico, for example, is: Only keep the bare minimum of cash in your wallet and stow the rest, large bills or credit cards, for example in your bra. In this way you could obviously show that you don't have any more cash with you in the event of a corrupt police rip-off. 

13. Travel with the right mindset

A very underestimated but valuable tip is to approach the matter with the right attitude. Be aware of the dangers and use the tips above to prepare yourself for possible critical situations, but don't have too many negative thoughts, fears or worries. If you focus too much on it or even panic, you only attract your (un)happiness. Try to stay positive and radiate self-confidence, because ultimately the statistical chance of a robbery from scratch is rather low and if you also observe all the rules, you can significantly increase your safety when traveling.

Then we would like to introduce you to our travel gadgets on the subject of safety when travelling:

  • fannypack
  • combination lock
  • RFID protection sleeves for credit cards and passports
  • Pacsafe 12l (space for two 13-inch MacBooks, camera and passports)
  • Pacsafe 85l (eg to secure the entire backpack)
  • Fake wallet

Of course, there is never a 100% guarantee or unequivocal protection when it comes to travel safety. But we believe that by following certain rules, common sense and listening to your gut, you can significantly reduce the risk of being mugged or stolen. 

Rudolfus Kikkert
Rudolfus Kikkert Interest In City Tourism

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