Thieves love tourists. It’s nothing personal. They’re just looking for an easy target – someone who’s carrying cash and credit cards, tablets and cameras, passports and other identification, all while being distracted by the new sights and sounds all around them.
So how do you take it all in without allowing a thief to take off with your money, identity and other valuables? These five travel tips should help:
1. Stay aware of your surroundings. This applies to all situations, from your hotel room to crowded public spaces. If a stranger bumps you, check your belongings immediately, even if it seemed accidental. Also use caution if you notice a public disturbance or other commotion – thieves appreciate a good distraction.
2. Watch out for digital thieves, too. If you use public wi-fi, only visit secure sites (addresses starting with “https”), and log out of accounts after each session. Need cash from an ATM? Paying for gas at the pump? Watch for “skimmer” devices designed to steal your information. They can be hard to detect, so look for card readers that don’t seem to match the rest of the machine.
3. Lock up your devices. Make sure your smartphone, computer and tablet all require secure passwords for access. Otherwise, a thief who makes off with your electronics could also make off with your personal information. Leaving devices behind at the hotel? Store them in your hotel room safe.
4. Always have some cash. There are situations where cash is just better than credit. If a merchant or barista just doesn’t seem trustworthy, use cash. Credit cards are best when you know the location is secure, such as at an airport or chain store, or when you want the purchase protection your card offers for a big-ticket item.
5. Think about home. Don’t let burglars ruin your return from vacation. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery, put some lights on timers and make your home looks occupied. Just in case someone does get in, keep your documents and valuables in a secure area.
Remember, travel is supposed to be fun! Taking just a few common sense precautions will help make sure you’re free to wander without worry.