Travel is all about freedom and adventure. It is about having fun and experiencing things unknown or unavailable at home. Planning a trip can be lengthy and taxing, especially when obsessing over every detail. As a result, when you arrive at your destination, the left side of the brain will want to close for maintenance and let the right brain take over. It’s important to remember, however, that there is danger and people with ill-intentions everywhere in the world. So even though the left brain is tired, it should not be shut down completely. Logic, rationalization and analyzation are all skills you’ll need to employ in order to remain safe and keep your belongings from belonging to someone else. Coupled with good old-fashioned common sense, the suggestions below will help ensure you don’t end up a victim of theft while abroad.
• Stay Alert. Be cognizant of your surroundings. If en route, know where you are, and the address of where you are headed. Keep a watchful eye on your personal items. Keep [hand]bags closed and as close to you as you would a newborn baby. Stay sharp. Use a buddy system when necessary, and rely on your intuition to know when things are not right.
• Don’t be flashy. If you look like you have more than the average (and by average, I mean average local), you will become a target, and an easy one at that. For example, while traveling in Central America, I was wearing a pair of sunglasses that weren’t flashy per se, but they were definitely conspicuous. Suffice it to say, the moment I let my guard down, someone snatched them up so quickly and stealthily, I didn’t realize they were gone until some time later. This was an easily avoidable casualty.
• Don’t be overly cautious. We as people tend to wear our emotions on our sleeves. We’re all familiar with the expression, written all over your face: thieves are experts at reading faces and sensing fear and apprehension. So be cognizant of your body language and carry yourself with confidence, especially when lost or unsure of something. When I’m abroad, I walk the streets as if I have a build in GPS, even if I haven’t the slightest idea where I am going.
• Make photocopies of important documents. Passport; State-issued ID; Birth Certificate. Items like these are worth money on the black market. As was said in the interview we conducted with traveler, Jasmin: You want to have numerous copies of each in case of a robbery, so as to prevent identity theft. Important telephone numbers/addresses; Credit Card information; Flight information. It is good to keep extra copies of these too, for obvious reasons.
• Don’t pursue… make noise. If, by chance, you find yourself being victimized, instead of trying to fight off or run after your assailant, let out a loud noise. This will draw attention to and likely diffuse the situation.
These things might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised what’s forgotten so easily in the moment. Stay mindful and remember these five tips, and you’ll go unburglarized! Safe travels! —VJ