How to avoid being pickpocketed when you travel

“Do not leave your baggage unattended” seems like a pretty simple and effective rule to abide by, but in practice, preventing your bags and money from being stolen at the airport or hotel when you travel implies far more than just that. In this post, we will revise key recommendations that might help you avoid the misfortune of being pickpocketed while navigating your way through international terminals, commuting to your hotel or enjoying your holiday trip. Continue reading to learn more about how to become a cautious traveller.

Staying safe in airports

Generally, when we are at the airport we are carrying many valuable things with us: our passport and documents, money, credit cards and even medication. In this part of the journey we do not have much choice as we need to have them handy while in transit to go across borders, pay for travel services or because there is no place where we can leave them during this interval. This is precisely why we should stay more alert than ever at the public departures zones and the arrivals hall of an airport -both of them areas that can be accessed by anyone-, but also in the departures concourses after security, where we tend to be more relaxed and are more prone to distractions.

How to avoid being stolen at the airport

A departing traveller is usually worrying about the possible long queues, or that they might have to pay for excess baggage, or whether they will be able to clear security and get to their gate in time for boarding. For many, this is a stressful experience and so they easily lose sight of their precious belongings, which brings us to the main commandment of the cautious traveller: be it that you are talking to the check-in agent, saying goodbye to a relative or shopping at the duty free, your bag must be in front of you and within sight at all times.

The zips and pockets should ideally be against your body and never at the back or where other people can access them faster than you. It would also be wise not to keep all your cash in just one purse, but to distribute it between different compartments of your hand luggage, and even better if you can come up with places where nobody would ever check.

Travellers tend to be eager to meet new people, yet we should bear in mind that –unfortunately- not every approach is made with good intentions. Be extra careful when a stranger asks you for help in the public zone of an international airport; sometimes they make you focus your attention on something so that a third party can rob you without your noticing. The same applies when something striking happens in front of you out of the blue: it might be staged for the sole purpose of pickpocketing.

Do not give away unnecessary information

The time you spend in transit is definitely not the occasion to boast about your luxury clothing or expensive jewellery, since this will attract the attention of robbers, who will immediately identify you as a target. Instead, when you are preparing for your trip, make sure you store every item that may reveal a higher socioeconomic status –even those that are simply deceiving because they are actually replicas- in a secure place inside your checked or carry-on luggage.

At the car rental counter, when you hire private shuttle services and on your commute towards the hotel, you should only provide the personal information that is strictly necessary to get you to your place to the staff and/or driver, with special emphasis on the exact address where you will be staying, for how long or the times of the day when you will be away. The less everybody knows, the better.

How to avoid having your things stolen at the hotel

In order to explore a new city or attend business appointments during our trip, often times we leave the money we won’t use that day and other valuable belongings inside our hotel room, as we tend to consider it a secure place. However, even when the hotel chain is a widely trusted one, their staff might not always be as professional as they should.

Under no circumstance should you put credit cards or jewellery inside the bags that you will leave in the hotel room during the day, and as for the in-room safe, use common sense: is it bolted to the cupboard or can it be taken away? Can you set your own security code? Sadly, in-room safety deposit boxes have proven to be relatively easy to open in spite of that, so in this case you are advised to get a portable safe lock for greater peace of mind.

If you resolve to carry your money and cards with you while out in the city or at the beach, put the recommendations above into practice and enjoy your trip. Remember that there is no need for you to travel in constant fear of being robbed or get obsessed about it; on the contrary, if you develop the skill to be able to stay alert and enjoy at the same time, a nice feeling of safety and self-confidence will become part of every journey.