You’ve finally settled into your dream destination. So far, everything has been a blur. The city is bustling with people and you’re still trying to get your bearings straight in the unfamiliar chaos of it all. You eventually decide to get a cup of coffee, and when you reach into your pocket to pay your barista your wallet is nowhere to be found.
From New York to Paris, there is one resounding problem for tourists. Pick pocketing is the age old grift that can put a serious damper on your travels. This story can go much worse, pick pockets can steal your identification you need to travel back home or worse. Long story short, nobody wants their pockets picked especially when they’re in an unfamiliar area.
So, how can you keep your cash safe while you travel through the world’s greatest cities? Here’s how the traveling pros avoid falling victim to pick pockets.
Choosing the Right Bag
Pickpockets have been around for centuries. Pickpockets actually predate the common use of sewn-in pockets, in the seventeenth century people would attach their wallets to their person with a chain or string. During this time, pickpockets were known as “cut-purses” because they would slash the wallet chains off of people in the street. Thus, choosing the right bag and protecting your purse has been an integral aspect of pickpocket protection for generations.
What should you avoid in a bag? Anything bulky, anything with unsealed pockets, and anything that can’t stay close to your body. That means that big tote bags and floppy purses should be left at home. We know that you want to be prepared for every situation while you’re on your trip, but a Mary Poppins bag will hold you back and make you the easiest target for pickpockets and thieves.
Your travel purse should be organized, compact and fit close to your body. If you want to be extra secure, consider getting a slash proof bag. Crossbodies and fanny packs should be at the top of your travel bag list.
When You Don’t Carry A Bag
We know what some of you are thinking. What if I don’t like to carry a bag? Not carrying a purse doesn’t exempt you from becoming potential pickpocket prey. Here’s what you can do instead.
Always carry your wallet in your front pocket. Pickpockets are more likely to steal from your back pockets because you are less likely to feel it. Keep your wallet close and personal throughout the duration of your trip.
If that’s not enough for you, you can look for pants with extra pocket zippers for added protection. If the weather is right, keep your wallet in a hidden picket within your coat, just be sure to keep track of your outerwear at all times.
If you’re hitting up the foreign money exchange before your trip, you’re bound to be traveling with some serious cash. It may be your impulse to keep it all in your wallet. I mean, that’s where money goes, right? Wrong.
If you’re stolen from, you don’t want to be left without any cash. In general, you shouldn’t carry more than $300 cash at any given time. If you take more than that on your trip, keep it in your hotel safe so you aren’t walking around with heavy pockets.
Look for suitcases with combination locks to use in the event that your hotel room doesn’t have a safe. If you’re worried about leaving your valuables unattended in any capacity, leave the do not disturb sign on your door whenever you leave for the day.
Look, there’s no shame in being a tourist. You should have fun! Feel free to explore and be curious about your surroundings. Just make sure you’re being a smart tourist.
This mostly bottles down to being aware of your surroundings. We know that traveling can be overwhelming but read the room, everyone. Don’t adjust your bag in busy areas, don’t wander int alleyways alone, and don’t flash your cash. Most of all, don’t trust just anyone you meet on the street. Some people are professional grifters, and they can be pretty charming even when they have the worst intentions for you and your wallet.
Do your research about the city you’re visiting and how people behave there, do what you can to fit into the crowd when you have to. If you blend into the local crowd when you have to, you’ll pose a lower risk of being pick pocketed. If you can’t blend into the crowd, keep a hand on your bag to protect your valuables.
The Bottom Line
While grifting and pickpocketing is a very real fact life in cities across the world, you shouldn’t spend your trip in fear of being robbed. Chances are, it won’t happen to you. Before you leave for your trip, do your research and get the right bag. Once you’re there, have fun and enjoy exploring a new city.