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21 Ways to Outsmart Pickpockets and Thieves

How to Protect your valuables when travelling

18 Ways to Outsmart a Thief

A few months ago, a friend posted a video on my Facebook profile about how your luggage can be tampered with out you noticing. Insert ballpoint pen into zipper and run the rails to open. Then use the zipper to zip it close.  Mortifying. Thieves are continually coming up with new ways to outsmart innocent people to pull their heists.

How can a traveler outsmart a thief?

I was in Morocco traveling with a girlfriend, when the airlines lost our luggage. As an travel experience, it proved to be a fun adventure, buying local clothes and products to get through the basics of our travels.  By the last day of our time there, our luggage was finally returned to us.  My luggage was fine, but my girlfriend had lost a significant amount.  One thing missing was a diamond engagement ring!

Of course, we’re probably all thinking the same thing.  Why the hell bring an engagement ring if you won’t wear it, but everyone has reasons for packing things that lead to mistakes.  Some other items of hers were stolen too, like a digital camera, some necklaces.  With the juggle of travel, unpacking and repacking between locations, we can make some pretty idiotic mistakes (And yes, she was kicking herself. She was actually a more experienced traveler than me at the time!).

The answer is~ we can try our best to not look like or be prime targets of naivete and vulnerability. How?

18 Ways to Outsmart Pickpockets and Thieves

1. Don’t bring valuables

Minimize the valuables you travel with.  Unless you’re jet-setting to the Riviera, frolicking with a posh crowd or staying at a cousin’s house, there’s no reason to bring expensive jewelry.  Theft can happen in transit as well as, hotel rooms and if you’re constantly on the move, it’s also something you can easy leave behind by accident.

These days many of us travel tech-heavy with DSLRs, video cameras and mobile phones. As a blogger I also bring a laptop!  These create added stress in protecting, but if you really need them (as I do), then try your best not to flash them around.  I only bring out my DSLR when I have to and when I do, I either tuck it under my arm to conceal it or hold it strapped around me like a professional photographer.  The way I wear it lets others know that its my priority weapon and won’t part with it easily, unlike someone who disregards it as recreational use.  Also, I follow up with the next tip…

2. Disguise your valuables.

Find a way to make it look a little trashy and personalized. That way, it’s easily identifiable and not an item thieves will target to resell.  I intentionally add stickers or mark things up in ways that make thieves know straight off that reselling it will be hard.

One of my latest techniques for disguising my laptop (photo below) was a hacking tip that Spanish travel blogger, Nelson Mochilero of Mochileros.org contributed to a travel hacking post I did.  During my recent trip to Europe (and Athens, where I hear pickpocketing is bad) it seemed to work great. Folks seemed surprised when a nice Mac Airbook emerged from that rugged-looking padded DHL envelope.

laptop holder, travel hacks for laptops, travel hacking, laptop holders

My new laptop holder. Well padded and UPS gives them away for free. The gaffer tape design is to make it look extra trashy

3. Hide money in multiple spots in your bag.

I split up all my valuables and have dedicated places to hide them in my bag. I choose 2-3 dedicated places in my bag. If one spot is discovered, that’s usually enough to satisfy a thief and I’ll have two other places to go to.

4. Be creative

I’ve seen innovations using emptied sunscreen bottles and chapstick holders. I always stash some money in a designated sanitary pad (clean, of course) that I stuff close to the top of my pack for quick and easy access.

Tip: Always remember where you put it. I accidentally mailed my cash home, when I decided to use my sanitary pads as padding for a souvenir box I was shipping home.  It didn’t arrive for months!

5. Buy backpacks with hidden pockets.

 Both, my backpack (a Northface Terra 35) and day pack (a hiking day pack I bought in Korea) have dark pockets that are flush inside the lining of my pack and against my back.  To get into them is a tight squeeze and noticeable.  The dark color camouflages them also.  These are places I might place a copy of my passport and information too.

Northface terra 35

northface terra 35

6. Ditch the purse.

Many will disagree with this advice, claiming a backpack makes you look more like a tourist. What’s more important is where you travel and how you’re dressed.

 Call me crazy but when I look at purse-toting tourists, my Xray eyes see only four worldly things that fit in it– credit cards, an I.D., a mobile phone and money! Who did you think you were fooling?  But if its something you feel comfortable with, then make it work. Purse straps are too easy to cut and snatch. Drape your hand over it to let offenders know you’re aware of your possessions.

Watch my video on safety tips for solo travelers.

Messenger bags look and tend to be bulky and they certainly hold more… but the straps are sturdier and tends towards a rugged look. I like them because they are camouflaging. They carry gym clothes, work papers, shoes, DLSR’s… it’s the mysterious black hole of personal storage.

When carrying expensive cameras (I carry two!)  and gadgetry, I recently bought an Ape Case Messenger Bag, which I’ve been traveling with an love for all it’s hidden pockets and quick access.

Ape Case Messenger Bag

Ape Case Messenger Bag

Some could argue that only backpacks don’t blend and that makes you stand out as a tourist. I disagree. As a backpack wearer carrying a load of expensive media in my bag (I’m a travel blogger and vlogger, so technology is the tool of my trade!), I’ve analyzed my situation amongst locals. Did you know college students and laborers wear backpacks too?  Also, it takes effort to steal a backpack; you can’t easily rip it off someone’s back.

Sling bags are part purse, part backpack.  I like them a lot and use them for home, travel and work on television sets.  My favorite is the Ameribag healthy back sling bag.   I actually have two of these!  If you’re a pocket maniac like me, who likes having separate compartments to organize your things, this is it.  In fact, there’s so outside pockets, secret pockets and pockets within pockets in this that a thief wouldn’t know which pocket to look in.  The only drawback with this bag is, with all the options, you might just forget where you’ve put things!  Another travel safety bag brand is  Travelon Anti-Theft Travel Bags. While pricy, they have a decent selection of bags that are slash proof to deter pickpocketing!

Ameribag Distressed Sling bag, ameribag healthy back bag

Ameribag Healthy Back Distressed Bag

 

7.  Dress like a local

Dress neat and to blend with the culture.  Avoid standing out or looking like a fat cat tourist with wads of cash socked away in your wallet.  As a solo traveler, I dress down… a lot.  I don’t want to attract too much attention to the fact I’m a lone female traveler or that I’ve got money.  I carry a day pack filled with expensive equipment and because of that, I dress down even moreoso.  I want to appear as unsuspecting as I can. Locals, vendors, thieves, all size you up the moment you stand in front of them.

8.  Always have some of your valuables on or near you.

I carry an obscene amount of digital technology on me, when I travel. Unless I find a safe locker I feel I can trust, I store it all in my day pack and it seldom leaves my sight or back.  I’ve made this my religion. When flying, I pack a sweater and extra underwear and toiletries should my luggage get lost.

But I also like to change things up, so that all my eggs aren’t in one basket.  If I”m robbed, I like to know I have a backup plan of cash in my luggage, which i’ve conveniently hidden in tricky places.

9. Clothes with smart pockets

I’ve seen running shirts with side zippers but usually I like to have them in front of me.  One brand I’ve tried which I like is the Clever Travel Companion, a line of clothing (shirts, underwear, long johns) with built-in pockets created specifically to stash valuables.  Read my review here.

clever travel companion underwear review

Clever Travel Companion Underwear

clever travel companion t-shirt giveaway

clever travel companion t-shirt giveaway

10.  A money belt

Money belts have been handy for a long time and many travelers feel comfortable with them. Generally, I equate them with the Rick Steves type of travel nerd, which tends to be smart, cautious but still curious.  I actually still take one with me, but I use it as an organizer more than something to wear on me.

Money belt, outsmart pickpockets, travel pickpockets, travel tips for pickpockets,

Money belt

11. Hidden pockets : Spibelts & PortaPocket

SpiBelts are something I occasionally use for jogging and hiking but at the waist, they can be discreet and worn directly in the front without calling attention to yourself.

spibelt

Spibelts

Likewise, PortaPocket strap on pockets are an inventive way to conceal your money, credit cards and small valuables.  You can wear them outside or  underneath your clothing, around your waist, thigh or upper arm.   They come small enough to fit your credit cards or large enough to fit your passport, with an 18″ velcro strap.  I personally like the smaller size, which you barely feel on you.

portapocket

Portapocket

12.  Wrist wallets

This one stumps folks all the time! Initially made for joggers, these wrist wallets come in handy for travel.  Today, due to mobile phones, they store iPhones to credit cards and money. I’ve been using Sprigs’ Bangees Wrist Wallets for years. They camoflague well as jogger sweat bands or fashion bracelets. I use these as my market purse, because I can fit just enough to money in it for shopping. Often I find locals are continually surprised when I bring money out of them and yes, someone would need to cut off my hand to get to it. I try not to think about it.

I’ve loved my Bangees wrist wallets to the point of disintegration. Recently, I bought a grey but I’m not sure what I was thinking; the designed ones just look more fashion-ready. Oh well.

sprigs wallets, banjees wallets, outsmart pickpockets, travel pickpockets, travel tips for pickpockets,

Sprigs wrist wallets

 


Watch how I use mine for travel and going to the beach!

13.  A hotel safe or lock box

Valuables are only safe outside your belonging if you trust the source storing it. I’ve never used a hotel safe in my life, but I imagine they must be safe.  But I still avoid storing my valuables separate from my belongings for the simple reason that when I’m in a rush (which I normally am),  I might forget it.

>> See my travel guide to hotels & my hotel routine here.

If you’re the type of person that will remember if you’ve left your money in a safe or anywhere else in your room. Let me know how that works for you.

14. Don’t store valuables in luggage storage rooms.

I occasionally leave my luggage in hostel and hotel storage rooms, even with tour agencies. But I don’t keep my money or valuables in them. They aren’t guaranteed to be safe and often, it’s open to travelers and staff. I’ve known travelers to still get items stolen from them, as some places don’t monitor who enters the room. Many storage facilities allow travelers to enter to get their own luggage.

15. Bring your own lock.

Some hostels give you your own personal locker for your bag and belongings. These are great but I’d bring my own lock.  If you don’t bring your own lock, then only put valuables in them when you’re in the room.

16. Don’t leave valuables out and unattended in your hotel room

When staying at hotels, there’s my laziness always tempts me to leave my laptop open on my desk.  I have to remind myself to put it away. Not all hotel staff want to steal your belongings. No one wants to lose their job. But I don’t like to take chances. Every bit of valuables or technology left out, exposes me as someone whose got something to steal. Pack it up before going out.

 17. Don’t wear clothes that make you look like you have money

People like to shop for new clothes and accessories before going on their trip. I say, don’t.  Use what you have and in some cases, I’d take old clothes or your less than nice purse.  You don’t want to attract thieves by looking as if you have money.

18. Traveler’s Insurance

In the case you do get something stolen, traveler’s insurance takes a load off your stress factor and softens the loss.  Of course, getting ripped off is going to feel like a punch in the stomach. Traveler’s insurance  softens that blow.  In order to qualify for it, keep accurate records. Sometimes, I go as far as writing down my serial numbers and keeping receipts.  What is necessary: If you’ve been stolen from, report the crime to the police.  If your baggage has been lost, get a report from lost luggage baggage at the airport.  Whatever you do, file a report as that will be necessary for you reporting your loss to your travel insurance company. In the past, I’ve used World Nomad’s Travel Insurance (they offer the lowest but best coverage if you ask me!).  I also have an American Express card that automatically insures my trips if I use my card to book my flights.

19. Swivel that bag or backpack to your frontside.

I’m not a big fan of wearing my day pack in front of me. Still, I do it and I walk with my hand over it.  It doesn’t flatter my figure nor show off the fact, I’m feeling particularly hot in my clothes that day. And it probably signals that I definitely am a tourist. Still, I wear that pack in front of me . I do it to let pickpockets know I’m not going to be an easy target.  A thief will have to physically move my arm to get through me. When choosing between me and someone who looks distracted about their personal belongings, there will be no contest who they’ll choose.

20.  Walk with your bag facing away from the road

I hear a lot about techniques where thieves snatch your bags off you from a motorbike. As such, I generally swivel my messenger bag over to the inside of the street and place one hand over my bag and the over the strap.  Basically, I suggest

21. Be aware of your belongings at all times (and look aware)

I actually make this rule my number one focus, when I travel.  I don’t want to have anything stolen and so I pump my guard on high and I make this my travel religion. When someone nudges me in a weird way, my hand immediately goes to my backpack zippers to see if any were tampered with. I always drape my arm over my belongings and if I have a DSLR out, I always hold onto it (sometimes, with both hands). The more value I have on me, the more I’m conscious about protecting it. I never sling my bags or packs over a chair when eating. it’s always in my lap, so I know where it is. It’s the same as if you were protecting your child. Treat your belongings like your child.

To conclude this post: As a traveler, you will probably always look like a tourist, no mater how much you dress yourself up or down. What you can alter in this tourist formula however, is to avoid looking like an easy target.  Theft starts from looking easy, distracted, confused. So don’t look it.

Of these techniques, try what works for you.  I’ve actually used all of them and employ several of these techniques at the same time to ensure I’m well-guarded.

For more tricks and ways to outsmart pickpockets and thieves, read or watch my video on travel safety tips and on how to deal with travel scams.

What are some techniques you’ve used for travel theft protection?  Which of these ways of outsmarting pickpockets and thieves resonates with you?

.

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72 Comments

  1. Baron Yamamoto says:

    Hi Christine. I recently came across the PACSAFE line of travel accessories. They carry RFID passport holders and wallets and backpacks and sling packs constructed with slash proof materials. Their zipper designs on each pack make it extremely difficult for pickpockets. Their products look very interesting and look very secure.

    • I’m familiar with PacSafe Baron. I don’t use them because they can feel just a little heavier at times (and I carry a lot of electronics) b/c they’re heavy duty. But great idea. I’m sure someone here will like them! Especially RFID holders. I don’t use them but I’m sure I should start.

    • Btw Baron– are you still running outdoor activities in Hawaii?

  2. Janey Reed says:

    Such good info. I sew hidden pockets in everything. Just ran across a hidden pocket that attaches to your bra. I make a money belt out of one inch web and a regular zipper. 24 inch zipper will hold about $600. Back packed through Africa 30 years ago and never had to use the $600. But it was there if all else failed. I always carry a purse as a decoy.

  3. I put my atm, credit cards, ID, passport and cash in my money belt that I wear between my jeans and my undies. I also keep my train pass and sometmies money in my bra. You have to be a particularly skilled pervo pickpocket to get my goodies.

  4. I’m short, blonde, blue eyed, and chubby so I look “American”. MOST of the people I see on the daily train are wearing a backpack because of the convenience of leaving your hands free to grab stair cases, grab bars, coffee, etc. So don’t worry about wearing one. I assume that the folks I see casually dressed in jeans and polor or with kids to be tourists. I wouldn’t recommend leaving your kids home.

  5. I never carry a wallet and money cards and such goes in front pocket

  6. Marcel says:

    A Credit Card-/Cash holding belt buckle does the trick for me.

  7. EASYTRAVELER says:

    On our last trip through Europe I made some more discoveries about packing light and basic security. All the stuff you use daily at home is only the stuff you should take!
    Toilet items you use everyday. Usually you wear one set of clothes everyday. You charge your phone. You take medicines. All those things work exactly the same away from home. Take only those things! Sure, pack a spare set of underthings for when your other hand wash clothes are drying but just one! You can get by wearing one pair of sturdy pants! Blue jeans are a common sight in Europe now. Wash your jeans once a week and tour tour tour! My travel ensemble is those jeans, a short sleeve under shirt, underwear, socks, a long sleeve dress shirt, a nylon hooded pullover and a plain ball cap. My sustainment messenger bag weighs eight US pounds! There are no other checked bags, nothing else to carry or mess with.

    Leave your expensive toys and jewels at home. Why burden yourself with the weight and worry? I wear a money belt. Some 20 Dollar Notes neatly folded and tucked inside. $400 US Dollars and nobody but me knew it was there! An ankle wallet and belt pouches carried a Passport, credit cards and Euros.

    Pack light. Travel well. Enjoy the trip.

  8. Mary says:

    I carry my phone in my bra on one side and ID & 1 credit card in a RFID holder on the other side of my bra. Never have had a problem 🙂

  9. Mark M says:

    Thanks for the tips, Christine. For travel and every day use, I am never without my PacSafe wallet. The cash compartment zips shut and the wallet has a sturdy chain attached to a lockable clip. I wrap the chain around my belt and clip it back to itself. Your commenters are right about Paris; for that trip, I prepared myself for all the types of scams and thievery and got to see it all tried on me (unsuccessfully) and on others. I was 30 seconds away from going up the Eiffel Tower when it was shut down, as the gangs of thieves were threatening the staff with slashing gestures across their throats, and police refused to go up to help. Paris is a wonderful city, yes, but beware that you are also swimming in a shark tank! The police are more concerned about bigger things, like terrorism. I also keep my valuables in a Travelon slash-proof messenger bag with lockable zippers. It has a handy loop at the back, and I use a large, lockable carabiner to clip the loop to my belt also, so snatching the bag is all that much harder to do. Just about everyone I know who has been to Paris, has been stolen from. it’s a thieves paradise. Sad.

  10. Thanks for sharing. After traveling worldwide for over 30 years, I finally fell victim to a pickpocket in Paris last year. Here are my tips to TRY and avoid pickpockets:
    – They are very good at what they do, so never think “It won’t happen to me.” It can happen to anybody.
    – As mentioned in the blog-post above, divide your valuables. Don’t keep all your money & credit cards in one spot/wallet/pocket. That way, WHEN you do get pick pocketed, they won’t get everything.
    – Don’t go to Paris. Once again… WHEN you do get pick-pocketed, the police there won’t help you and don’t care. It happens thousands of times every day.

    • KV says:

      I went to Rome a little while ago. While it’s always been a little sketchy there, it is much worse now. I’ve traveled the world and never had an issue, but got to the point where I basically stopped carrying anything around there, since it became clear something WAS going to be taken. There were some real pros working – even getting into other peoples rolling luggage…as they were walking with it.

      • Christine Kaaloa says:

        @KV I went to Rome several years ago and luckily, I was too oblivious to know about the aggressive gypsy problem. Today, I don’t know if I’d ever want to go there for fear of all the camera equipment I carry. Did you get anything stolen?

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Kevin: Thanks for sharing~ good tips! No Paris huh? =/

  11. Annette says:

    So informative…thanks for the post!

  12. Best thing I have found is (if it is cold and you need more than one layer) to have a shoulder purse and have it under your jacket. (best if it’s unzipped so you can access it easily) It isn’t too inconvenient and there is a layer that is hiding it! I feel so much safer when I have a jacket or sweater between my purse and possible pick pockets. Also lanyards with a few extra pouches are ideal for wearing under clothes around your neck if you need to store passport or cash anywhere.

  13. Emma says:

    Thank you for the tips. I just wanted to comment and let you know that as you say that you’re a professional blogger, it would be wise for you to more thoroughly proofread your work. This article was riddled with typos and grammatical errors. In my opinion, this lowers the credibility of the information but can be easily remedied.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Thanks for your feedback Emma. I am a professional blogger but I don’t claim to be a professional writer. As a solo travel blogger & YouTuber, I alone juggle written blog posts, a YouTube channel, photographs, social media, website tech/design and all the content you see at GRRLTRAVELER. My hard work is to provide FREE information to travelers, like yourself. But the truth is, I gain my lifestyle income by juggling outside jobs so I can afford to work for GRRRLTRAVELER.

      If you would like to support higher quality work, GRRRLTRAVELER has a PayPal account you can donate to. =) I also have an ongoing Patreon campaign at http://patreon.com/grrrltraveler . If I gained an income from all this work I do (a 60 hour/week job), I would be able to concentrate my time on every task or even hire assistants to quality check my work.

  14. Gail says:

    I’ve taken the zippered passport holder that has loops to go around your belt and have cut the loops off. Then I use three safety pins to attach the pouch to the inside back of my pants with the zipper facing in. I like this position for two reasons – I don’t feel it because that portion of your back is flat and has no moving parts, and it is comfortable therefore you don’t project its whereabouts with your body language. To take my passport/money/credit cards out, I discreetly move my back towards a wall in an out-of-the-way spot and flip the pouch out where I can then unzip it and remove any contents. Since the zipper is facing the inside of the pants, one cannot get to the contents without this move. I’ve gone on month’s long trips with considerable cash this way and have had absolutely no trouble. I will keep some cash and perhaps one credit card that I might need for the day in a purse with metal cording in the straps and mesh in the body. I’ll keep my phone and camera in there as well.

  15. Marc says:

    Great tips and I am sure these are very useful for seasoned and novice travelers. Once I got my bag stolen and I lost all my valuable including an engagement ring. I learned the lesson painfully and now I am all about being safe and being ultra careful with my stuff and ready not to repeat the same errors I have done in the past.

  16. Sandy Gillis says:

    Re the room safe in hotels, one place in New Zealand had a safe that was great, until you left the room and took your room key out of the electronic wall holder that you put it in to put the lights on. It sprung open the safe which we didn’t realise until it was open every time we came back. Luckily, no one took anything but the hotel didn’t care. Weird idea of “safe”. So now, if I use them I check first that the safe door won’t spring open without power.

  17. tonimomof4 says:

    Just read this article,great tips!!!
    One thing I’ve always done when traveling is to wear another shirt over my clothes and cross body bag…you can do a flannel,jean,or hoodie or sweater,even if it’s hot you can do a sleeveless one. That way the thieves can’t get to your purse straps or the purse itself

  18. Peggy says:

    On the hotel safe. I use the hotel safe every year on vacation. I take cash and put it in the safe along with my passport and return plane tickets. Every morning I take out only enough cash I think I will need for the day. That way if it is stolen on me, I am only out that days cash. At the end of the trip, I empty the safe as I am packing my bags to go to the airport. Can’t forget what’s in the safe if you check for your plane tickets!

    • Teknomom says:

      I watched a TV show about protecting yourself while traveling & they demonstrated how a hotel safe can be easily opened with just a wire coat hanger. Yikes!

  19. Bonnie Anne says:

    Really enjoyed these tips. I have a Travelon North/South messenger bag that I love. I was squashed like a sardine on the Paris metro for New Year’s Eve and I never felt unsafe or at risk for pickpockets with that bag. PacSafe also makes terrific theft-proof purses, bags, luggage and backpacks with slashproof straps and slashproof mesh in the body of the bag. PacSafe also makes several travel safes (slashproof mesh with a cable lock) in sizes small enough for a camera or tablet, up to large enough to cover luggage or a backpack. I’m a big fan of both companies, and you can find their oroducts on Amazon. I’ve never heard of a wrist wallet… I think I could get a little obsessed over those! Off to check them out… thanks for your post!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Hi Bonnie! I’ve only recently become more familiar with Travelon, so good to know they have messenger bags. I’m definitely familiar with PacSafe. I love their concept and think they’re great for the safety they provide!

  20. Fantastic advice, thanks for sharing this.

  21. My friend takes a huge wad of cash because she doesn’t like to pay the surcharge on her credit card. However I can’t handle the stress of carrying that much cash and I take two credit cards – one in wallet and one in suitcase. I carry a bag which is about 40cm (15 inches?) deep. I leave all my jewellery at home. I don’t like wearing “fanny packs” (We call them bum bags because ‘fanny’ is inappropriate here)

  22. How do you travel w cash? I read the article but i dont want to be going into my tshirt or underwear to get cash when im shopping. Also i have found the atm fees are huge in southeast asia and better to just bring dollars. But i struggle w where to hide them

  23. Our short answer is…don’t travel with valuables!

  24. Kari Mendoza says:

    I LOVE Nomad Traveler’s insurance 🙂 very easy to work with and the one time I had a claim they were very responsive and uncomplicated!

  25. Fortunately I carry a hidden waist pouch inside my pants and keep some cash in my pants pocket.

  26. Lake lassie says:

    Travelsmith has a great infinity scarf, dark colors, soft, that has a big 5″ zipped pocket in it. Nice place to keep valuables and what thief would look there?

    I have traveled alone for years, love it. My tip is to stay at an upscale hotel, with room service and several restaurants. No need to walk around looking for something to eat at night. I also get excellent service staying in the hotel’s business wings, often there is buffet breakfast offered, a cocktail hour, and snacks during day. Business equipment is there for use, printers etc. also, staff monitored the business wing, so it was extremely safe.

    If you want to go out at night, organized city tours are available, often with hotel pickup. Meet people, see city at night, and be very safe.

    • Teknomom says:

      I used an infinity scarf with a hidden zippered compartment on my last trip & love it! Athough it’s large enough to hold a passport, it is very obvious it is there, plus the weight makes the scarf slide so that the pouch is always at the bottom front center. Instead I carried my plastic passport card along with a credit card, my hotel key card & some cash. I also used a broach pin to secure it so that the pocket was always half way between my neck & the bottom, making it difficult to see the pocket or contents.

  27. ivettte says:

    yes those shirts:))

  28. Tom says:

    Hotel safes are great and you will never forget something in there is you put eg one of your socks or shoes in it or anything that you would naturally check you have it on you before you leave (this is for me: wallet, wrist watch, phone).

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Great to hear you’ve had good experiences with the hotel safe, Tom! =)

  29. Sadie says:

    I like your post! However, the share buttons on the left make it very difficult to read. Perhaps consider moving them so your article can be more enjoyable for more people. Thanks for the great information!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Thanks for your feedback Sadie! Glad you got something out of this post.

  30. Shiela says:

    Love your blog! I’m heading to Singapore next week for a month before traveling to Seoul for 2 weeks. I’m traveling by myself and am 18. I watched your videos and have been binge-reading your blog like I’ve honestly read like um like at minimum 20 or so blog posts so far haha. Especially love all the ones where you talk about Seoul <3 You're amaaazing! Don't know where I'd be without this blog!!!

    Just wondering if you have some advice about traveling to Seoul. How safe is it? I watched your video on how to stay safe while traveling as a woman. Is it a pretty safe place for young women to be traveling?

    I don't speak Korean either.. do a lot of the vendors when I want to buy skincare products or go shopping speak Korean or do they speak English as well? And we can still haggle for better prices, right?

    And I haven't booked my hotel for Seoul yet and was wondering which areas in the city are probably the safest.

  31. EASY TRAVELER says:

    Gossamer Gear is having a sale! Their Rukus Backpack is now $48.75. A well made lightweight pack that weighs about 11 ounces. Unstructured sack type pack. Curls up under the seat ahead of you on the plane just so. Through Monday December 1, 2014.

    Sarch for 052P2 Smart Phone Pouch. This is the big one. These hold cash, credit cards, blister kits, Tylenol and with a hefty rubber band cut from a bicycle tube THEY ARE PICKPOCKET PROOF! ANY bike tube that fits 1.75 to 2.25 inch tire will work. Cut bands about 1/2 to 5/8 inch wide. Take extra bands too. They have many other uses.

    On canes, look for the aluminum type that telescopes down to a short length. These are light weight and very strong..Cheap too. Target. Walmart. Walgreens. CVS.

    I make my own light weight clothes hangers. I use PEX 1/2 inch tubing cut to 15 inch lengths. I drill a 3/16″ hole at 7.5 inch on the tube and thread 550 cord through a small stainless steel washer and the tube then knot it so it won’t pull through. Use about 18 inches of cord so you can form a loop in the other end. I use simple shower curtain hooks as an additional hanging option. Very light weight. Very strong. Compact. Works!

    I use gallon size baggies to corral chargers, toilet items and hand laundry items. The baggies are nearly weightless. They have many other uses. I take extra baggies too. I use the big “jumbo” size baggies to compress clothes for packing. Cheap. Light weight. They work as good as any of the other compressors out there!
    Slide your folded clothes in, sit on it all and seal.

    I ordered a Travel Companion T-shirt! Very impressive product. Great idea!

    Packed all my stuff weighs about 10 pounds. Everything I need and nothing I don’t need.

    Thank you for your time!

  32. That writs wallet looks cool! Checking it out now!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Glamourous Traveller: I’ve even used it occasionally on this last trip. Sometimes, I feel a little dorky with it (depending on my wardrobe of the day) But it works well! No one ever suspects it.

  33. EASY TRAVELER says:

    On Bed Bugs: Think about this: Your hotel or hostel bed and room has had hundreds if not thousands of guests! The chances that ONE of them carried bedbugs or their eggs are very good!

    Go online and familiarize yourself with the way bedbugs and their eggs look. Eggs are small and white and very numerous!

    BEFORE you accept any room feel free to look under chairs and mattresses. Use a bright flashlight and LOOK! I also carry a UV light to check bedding for stains.

    From past experience with the awful beasts, the only way you can get totally rid of them is to discard everything in the room and treat with SEVIN dust! Eggs will hatch in 7-10 days and they’ll be back! Retreat with SEVIN dust and wait for a kill of the hatch BEFORE you re-occupy the room. Vacuum the room thoroughly and discard or clean vacuum bags and the machine. Do you think that your Hotel will do this??

    As another precaution, leave your luggage and the clothes you are wearing in your garage or something and shower immediately when you get back home! Wash clothes in HOT water and dry HOT.

    Check your luggage and contents with a strong light! Discard or treat infected items.

    Beware Tea Tree oil. It’s toxic to cats and it has other side effects you may not like.
    IT DOES NOT KILL BEDBUGS!

    Thank you for your time!

  34. EASY TRAVELER says:

    This tip may not be useful unless you are handy with and have tools.

    I made a camera strap from small gauge galvanized cable, some 1/4 inch copper tubing, silver solder and plastic tubing.

    Cut an ample length of cable and thread it through two short segments [1/2 inch] of copper tubing to form loops and enough of the plastic tubing to adequately cover the cable. Crimp the tubing and cable together at the ends then silver solder with a gas torch

    As I said probably beyond the talents of most folks BUT you should see the raised eyebrows when the strap slashers see it! CUT PROOF camera strap!

    There may be a commercial version available. Google and see.

    Most street security is just common sense and anticipating the worst. Of course be extra vigilant at night. A woman should travel with a trusted companion ALWAYS!

    When riding transit exit with the crowd and avoid the less used exits. Don’t come out in a strange part of town! Look for Transit Police and gravitate toward them as much as possible. Most times thieves are well known to Police!

    My cane is carried so that it protrudes behind me when on escalators and stairs. Then it’s a deterrent and a detector for pickpockets. This a place when you play RUDE! Maintain that space around you! The chances are very good that there’s one behind you!

    If you are a “hard target” pickpockets move on to an easier mark. They quickly size you up and decide if you are worth their time and effort. Think like a thief!

    Thank you for your time!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Easy TRaveler: As a senior traveler, I think you’ve been smart to go over and beyond in your techniques to ensure safety and you have some good tips for travelers of all ages. The cane trick to keep folks at a good distance is a great trick.

  35. EASY TRAVELER says:

    I have actually seen some tips here that I’ll use! I hope that my tips prove useful too.

    I have tested my ten pound bag on several trips and it just works so good! With re-supply of toilet items and hand laundry soaps I can stay out indefinitely!

    It’s so easy to get on and off and into and out of transportation! I don’t have to frantically search for “left luggage” storage nor leave my pack at a Hotel waiting for check in time. Those mad dashes through airports are easier too.

    I like ideas that take inexpensive items out if the pack and stores them in clothing! Socks. Guide books. Maps. Hand cleaner. A safe place for a Passport…

    I try to use dry versions of toilet items and insect repellent so as to avoid the “311 baggie”!
    Check out railriders they sell tough durable travel clothing! Also have a look at zpacks they make insanely light weight packs!

  36. EASY TRAVELER says:

    Carry. A. Cane. Canes can be used to establish a safe zone around and in back of you. Canes can be used to whack a thief too!

    Carry extra cash in plastic wrap [cut off baggie] in your shoes under the insoles. I use belt pouches whose flaps are secured with heavy rubber bands I cut from bicycle inner tubes! I have and use a money belt. I NEVER put anything in a pocket.

    Pick a backpack that has no zippers! Pack. Light. Struggling with heavy luggage marks you as a rich tourist! Limit your stuff to ten pounds max.

    Do dress down. Excellent advice! Old ragggedy clothes are easy to care for and are “expendable”. Theives are looking for juicy rich targets. Look poor! An old pair of jeans with holes in them. A t-shirt faded and tattered. Frayed cap. Scuffed comfy shoes.

    When you are walking through city streets, stop often and do a 180 degree scan. Really look at your surroundings and other people. Better yet sit down some place and rest and OBSERVE. Things and people pop out you just don’t other wise see!

    I can not stress enough the admonition to travel light! You can pack everything you brought and easily carry it when you leave the Hotel room. A small backpack or messenger is easy to defend on a train or bus!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Easy Traveler: Nice list there! As for the cane… that might be a little difficult for folks who don’t need one. But I recently took a selfie stick with me and that was a great whacking weapon. (too bad I lost it too!) Money in the shoes is a awesome too. Just don’t leave it out when you go to temples. 😉

      • EASY TRAVELER says:

        Even though I’m 67 and sorta need one now, I would still travel with a cane. It’s a useful tool with many uses. Worth it’s trouble and weight. Through five European countries and nine ports it was always with me. Once you get the hang of it you can use it as a rest prop to good effect! I never had any trouble boarding planes with it nor any trouble going through security.

        I had to take my shoes off in The Blue Mosque [ Istanbul ] but I still carried my shoes with me.

        Some people in my group lost money to pickpockets but I did not. I felt them probing me many times and I saw a lot of goofy looks on their faces too! I didn’t lose a single Euro!

        I like to carry things that do more than one thing or have more than just one use. This reduces weight and makes me more versatile.

        The one big mistake I made on that trip was packing too heavy!
        Lesson learned. Never again. Ten pounds and no more!

        Thank you for your time!

  37. runawaybrit says:

    I agree that a large number of thefts on tourists are opportunistic, so reducing the tourist look helps tremendously. In South America I saw 4 Aussies reporting a theft. They were all wearing Thai beer branded t-shirts, board shorts and flip-flops. In Colombia. Have you ever seen a Colombian man dressed that way?!!

    You have offered great tips and advice here, especially about being aware of your belongings. I also sit with my bag in my lap at restaurants, walk with my hand over the zipper on my bag, and try to down-play my valuables. In some of the more unsavoury parts of S. America I put my camera in a plastic bag from a local supermarket, covered it with a grubby looking sweater and maybe put a bottle of water or bar of chocolate in there. I took my SD card out of my camera wherever I went, so that if the camera did get stolen they wouldn’t have my pictures.

    Good tips about personalising your laptop, if nothing else it would make it easier to identify. I shall get something for my Macbook.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @runawaybrit: You’ve got it. It’s doing whatever to detract from the moneyfied look we, as tourists/foreigners have! For my recent trip, I had thought many times of removing my SD card from my camera in shady places. For travelers, it’s a good advice. For us travel bloggers, it’s even better advice. Our media- photos and videos- can feel like currency, especially if something is sponsored.

  38. When I traveled through Morocco I had my backpack stolen and with it a new digital camera. Luckily, I uglified it with masking tape and other ugliness and the thieves left it, along with my other uglified gear. I was able to chase them down and they ended up only making off with my cash, my survival knife and small binoculars. Thankfully!

    Nice advice here!
    Aloha!
    Charlie

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Charlie: ha ha glad your uglified camera got left behind. In those cases it’s whether you’ve won the battle or the war. Saving a digital camera sure feels like a war to me! =D

  39. I like Scottevest. I have their Chloe hoodie and it’s not possible to be pickpocketed with it. As long as I use the inner pockets that is.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Melissa: Thanks for your tip! I’ll have to check that out. I’m always into new travel safe gadgets. =)

      • leila820 says:

        Your suggestions/hints are great. Many that I do use!!! Regarding the …Scottvest…. as one that is very weight concerned, it was HEAVY empty. Yes, I returned it. A bonus i that I can sew and have made many a security pocket, even my underwear. As nothing like putting serious cash, yes cash, against your front lower stomach, go to the loo/bathroom and just as you turn to see the water flush, glad that $$$$$ stuck to the TOP of the bowl. Security is not there any longer. Cheers!

  40. Tanya Harry says:

    Great post Christine! So many useful tips here! Many thanks!

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