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Traveller in New York, the United States

Keeping Your Belongings Safe

When you’re travelling, the last thing you want is to lose something or have your belongings stolen. It can turn a dream trip into a nightmare. As long as you are wary and follow common sense, you shouldn’t have a problem, but it is good to think ahead and plan how you will keep your stuff safe while you are abroad. Tips for keeping your stuff safe include:

Try not to look like a tourist

The less you stand out as a tourist, the less likely it is you will be targeted as one. This is key to keeping your stuff safe. Don't wear jewellery or expensive looking watches or carry around expensive equipment. Avoid reading a map in public: plan your route before you leave and walk with confidence. Try to blend in and avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself.

Keep an eye out

Opportunist theft can happen anywhere. However, the most likely places are in busy areas such as markets, bus and train stations, on transport, border crossings and at ATMs. Be extra vigilant with your belongings when in these areas.

Be wary of scam artists

Scams are a common way that thieves try to get hold of your valuable belongings. Being aware of common scams is a good way to keep your stuff safe while travelling. Below are some that have occurred regularly:

  • Distraction. Be wary of strangers who bump into you or stop to ask you a question. They may be distracting you while another thief attempts to pick-pocket you.
  • Bogus Tourist Police. Be wary of non-uniformed 'police' asking to see your ID, cash, etc. If in doubt, say that you will present your papers at the local police station.
  • Taxis. A taxi driver might claim that the hotel or attraction you want to visit has closed down, and offer to take you to an alternative (often owned by their family). Be firm and insist on being taken.

Your bag should be visible to you at all times

If you do have to put it down (and only do so if you are confident it will be safe), keep an eye on it, especially when you sit down at restaurants, cafes, bars and Internet cafes. Ideally, keep it on your lap or loop your bag strap through the table or chair leg as well as through your leg to prevent someone from grabbing it.

Remember to take a padlock with you

A padlock is an essential tool for keeping your stuff safe. Some hostels have lockers in which you can safely store your valuables. Combination padlocks are great because you don't need to worry about keeping a key on you. Just don't forget your combination code!

Make two photocopies of important documents

While trying to keep your stuff safe, you should also prepare for the worst. Take two copies of documents such as your passport, insurance policy and flight tickets. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave a copy with someone at home. It is also sensible to scan your documents and email them to yourself; that way you can always access them easily.

Call the police

If you do have items stolen, remember to report it to the police immediately or at the very least as soon as you can. This is important, as you will need to have a police report if you wish to make a claim on your travel insurance.

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