8 Simple Ways to Avoid Pickpockets When Travelling

8 Simple Ways to Avoid Pickpockets When Travelling

Not sure how to avoid pickpockets when travelling? These 8 simple tips will keep thieves away and your valuables safe.

Cases of pickpocketing are rampant all over the world, particularly in cities like Paris, Athens and Barcelona. While there is little you can do to stop pickpockets from stealing, there are certainly numerous ways you can avoid being the next victim. If you are aware that your next travel destination is a city notorious for pickpockets, take extra precautions and follow these tips.

1. Forget trying to “not look like a tourist”

Image credits: thousandflavors

Even if you have a closet full of Norwegian clothes and are a gifted chameleon, you will not look Norwegian. Face it, the moment you open your mouth and speak with that foreign accent, you’re basically screaming “I’m a tourist!”. In fact, pickpockets who regularly encounter tourists would certainly know a foreigner when they see them, so forget trying too hard to “not look like a tourist”.

Instead, try not to look like a clueless and naive tourist. No wearing “I love France” t-shirts because, other than the fact that it is not cool to be wearing that when you’re in France, everyone will know that you’re a newbie traveller. It also does not hurt to avoid wearing bright colours that call attention to you. Instead, while you might inevitably stick out in a foreign destination, be sure to look alert and purposeful at all times.

2. Be cautious of certain types of people

Local children: In certain areas, children are known to make a living out of pickpocketing. These pickpocket extraordinaires come around with their adorable faces but they’re skilled in the art of grabbing your wallet.

Suspicious women: Some women know exactly how to get what they want. She’ll pretend to fall or have gotten mugged and then when you try to help her, poof, your wallet disappears and so does the beautiful woman.

The innocent bystander: He “witnessed” the person who just tripped you and has come to help. But he’s only helping himself to your wallet!

Of course, not everybody is out to get your wallet. Simply be cautions and try your best to avoid being in close contact with strangers. When you are, make sure that your wallet is out of their reach.

3. Avoid the back pocket

Avoid keeping your valuables in your back pocket. In fact, to be completely safe, store money and passports in a money belt. Wear this around your waist and under your shirt; the only way anybody can get to your money is to mug you! Basically, owning a money belt makes it much less convenient for the regular pickpocket to steal from you. It doesn’t hurt to carry an extra wallet with only the amount required to sustain you for the day. Everything else should go into your money belt. Separating money is sometimes the best option to keep it safe.

4. Shorten all straps

Image credits: Karyn Valino

Don’t allow your bags and purses to dangle below your waist. Adjust the strap so that it comes above your elbow. Even better, get a bag with a metal strap. It can never be cut! Also make sure the purse you bring opens up with a zip. This way things cannot easily slip out.

5. Be careful in crowds

Let’s face it, you will never be able to completely avoid crowded places, but you can be extra careful when walking through crowds. Keep your bag close to your body. Also, if you’re carrying a backpack or rucksack, wear it in front.

6. Don’t fiddle about

Image credits: LEE WOOD

Fiddling with your pockets only tells the pickpockets where exactly you store your valuables. It’s also important to count all your money at your hotel. Never do this in public, you’re just advertising your wallet.

7. Keep credit cards safe

When you’re purchasing items with your credit card, put it back immediately once the clerk passes it back. Leaving it on the table will only lure beady eyes and agile hands. Technically, you shouldn’t be leaving anything valuable unattended for even a few minutes. Be very vigilant and alert in public.

8. Mugger’s wallet

Image credits: Glen P

Finally, what better way to escape the pickpocket than by out-fooling him! Make a duplicate wallet, stuff it with receipts, outdated credit cards and a few dollar coins, and keep it in your pocket. Your real wallet will be hidden in a concealed pocket. You get to cheat the cheater!

Also read: 10 Useful Tips for Staying Fit While Travelling

About Author

Anisha Charan

Swimming through deep waters or scaling down the side of a cliff, Anisha has an adventurous spirit that ignites her love for travelling. A girl in love with nature, she is passionate about protecting the environment and saving endangered species. She hopes to retire in a Scottish castle one day with a large pile of fictional books and some lovely hot chocolate.


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