On our recent trip to Europe, I was almost robbed.
But, no, I wasn’t gabbing on my cell phone – I was lugging my suitcase up the metro steps. Fortunately, I felt and heard something; and, when I turned to look, saw two men behind me and realized that they had already partially unzipped the outside pocket of my carry-on bag. Being a 100 lb “heavyweight,” I of course felt no fear (amazing what adrenaline does); instead I looked at the men and let out a loud “HEY!!!” This of course filled my would-be-pickpocketers with immense fear – or something like that – and they walked away nonchalantly. I was furious, and a few minutes later…
shaking with fright.
Although I didn’t lose anything in the pick-pocket attempt (there was nothing of value in that outside pocket), things could have been a lot worse. Stashed in a money belt under my clothes were my passport, credit cards, dollars, and Euros! I’d never worn a money belt before, but decided to use one on this trip. If you’re looking for a slim profile, yet strong money belt, I highly recommend this one from Eagle Creek. (Here I am earlier on the day of the attempted robbery. As you can see, the money belt is virtually undetectable.)
In addition to wearing my money belt when we were travelling (yes, I even wore it on the overseas plane rides!), I took some additional precautions on this trip. Here’s my…
SAVVY TRAVELER CHECKLIST
- Learn from the pros…check out travel tips from seasoned travelers like Rick Steves
- Take only the essential credit cards you’ll need on your trip.
- Alert your credit card companies regarding your travel dates/destinations
- Make a color scan copy of your passport and give a copy to a trusted friend/relative at home. Email a scan of the passport to yourself so that you can access it easily if your passport gets stolen
- Email yourself the Collect Call to USA numbers for the credit cards you’ll be carrying so that you can act quickly in the event that the cards are stolen
- Redact all identifying information on the paper travel documents you carry (i.e. if you are travelling with printouts of your hotel accommodations, black out your credit card and address information)
- Carry your cash, credit cards and passport in a money belt
- Leave your valuable jewelry at home
- Cover the keypad when you are withdrawing money from ATMs
- Have a friend keep on “look out” when you withdraw money
- Make as few ATM withdrawals as possible, but try to make most of your purchases in cash
- Be wary of being approached by strangers – especially pairs of people
- Be alert and vigilant in crowed trams, buses, trains, and subways
- Take a cab or an airport shuttle if you are travelling with your luggage. Be vigilant if you choose to travel with your luggage on public transportation.
- For Women: Take a purse with a strap long enough to be carried cross-body in front (interior zippered compartments are essential!)
- For Men: Carry your wallet in a front pocket, or use a money belt or hidden money wallet
- Take twisties (or even small locks) to “lock” zipper tabs together
- Read up-to-date guide books on your destination for safety tips
- Once at your destination keep your passport and credit cards locked up in the hotel safe. (Take out only the amount of cash/credit you’ll need for that day)
- When you need to make a phone call/check GPS, stand with your back against a wall and be aware of your surroundings (have a friend keep watch)
Be aware, be smart and be safe!