Travelling makes you less materialistic, but still,.. it’s better to just not lose your good stuff.
Losing things, getting robbed, being pick-pocketed or ripped off.. it’s all part of the best deal in the world: travelling.
Having experienced almost all of the above, let me share some tips with you on how to minimize the risk of any of the above becoming one of your travel anecdotes.
Spread your valuables.
It’s natural to all of us to keep all our valuables together. It’s easy to have everything at hand, but you can also lose everything at once when it’s not your lucky day.
What (not) to keep in your ‘real’ wallet.
Key – To many of us the most logical place to store the key of our backpack’s/suitcase’s padlock and the key to a locker is in our wallet. It makes sense, if you think of your wallet as the asset you hold onto best. It stops making sense though when you realise it’s one of the most wanted items for others as well. And what you don’t want – trust me, I’ve been there – is to find yourself back in your hostel after a robbery and not being able to access your luggage. It’s certainly an experience, sawing open your own locker, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So: keep your key in a different place, preferably somewhere on your body.
All your credit / debit cards – carry just one card and a small amount of cash in your wallet so you can buy whatever groceries or souvenirs your like. That will ensure you always have a backup in case you lose it.
How to spread valuables?
Money belt 1 – the money belt isn’t the most fashionable accessory to complete your travel outfit, but it’s incredibly practical and comes in different forms. The type I’m referring to here is one that looks like a regular belt but has a zipper inside that opens up to a hidden pocket where you can hide some money – and perhaps your padlock key. These belts are available in different types: robust canvas belts with a metal squeeze buckle or a more elegant leather belt you could even wear to your office job.
Money belt 2 – our most needed document to travel the world is the booklet in which you collect stamps that make you smile every time you flick through it while waiting in line to board a plane – your passport. When my partner and I were robbed in Chile, these guys just ripped off my entire shoulder bag so it wouldn’t have mattered in which pocket inside of this bag I would’ve stored our passports. Lucky for us, precisely that day we had decided to leave them in the locker at the hostel. Knowing that things get stolen from hostels too, this wouldn’t precisely be my recommendation to you unless your budget allows a (hotel) room with digit code locker. The best thing you can do – although not so comfy – is to wear a money belt under your clothes. Either around your waist or dangling from your neck, it’s the last place anyone would try and steal from you. And that makes it the perfect place to keep your back up debit or credit card secure as well.
Special tip for the female travellers out there – one of the easiest places to keep some extra cash hidden if you’re a woman, is your bra. Not always quite secure though, as money may fall out during sports activities, but there’s a solution for that! This common women’s practice has inspired some companies to produce a small pocket that you can just string on to your bra strap securing your money. And if you can’t find it, you can of course – just as easily? – make it yourself.
Carry a fake wallet.
Bring along an old but small wallet with you that’s still lingering around somewhere in your house (or buy a cheap new one) and fill it up with some expired debit-, insurance- or student card, or any other card that looks credible. You might want to throw in a few coins and a small note and there you are: your very own fake wallet to present in case anyone tries to threaten you for money. A small note: obviously this will not work if you keep it in your (hand)bag as no criminal will be patient enough to wait while you search your bag. Keep this one in your pocket so you can hand it over right away.
Want to be prepared just in case things go wrong despite your preparations? Read my post on how to get your lost or stolen items back.