6 Tips to avoid travel theft

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6 Tips to avoid travel theft

Have you ever had something stolen from you while you were travelling? Once a thief broken into the New Zealand condo I was staying at with my parents, and made off with the contents of our wallets. I was living in Japan at the time, where bank machines weren’t open on evenings and weekends (I hope that’s changed!). I can’t remember how I made it back to my village in Japan with no cash and no bus pass, but somehow I did. The theft put a major downer on the rest of our holiday. The Divine Destination Collection, Canada’s curator of unique luxury travel adventures has recently polled their inner circle of highly experienced travellers and come up with a few tips to avoid travel theft. Here are their findings (plus my unsolicited advice).

6 Tips to avoid travel theft

1. Go native

Is anyone still sporting a maple leaf sewn on their backpack? If you are, I hate to break it to you, but the 90s are over. Canadian flag clothing and luggage tags can be a clear tip-off you’re from a first world country and likely have valuables in your luggage and on your person. Worse, thieves might make the assumption you’re a paranoid American.

2.Give your luggage a twist

Since we can no longer use luggage locks (not that they were all that secure, anyway), twist ties are an inexpensive way to secure your luggage, while allowing security access if needed. This clever twist adds significantly more time for would-be thieves to get into your luggage and may keep them from targeting your bags in the first place.

suitcase zippers

3.Upgrade your travel tech

One traveler writer I know feels more secure using a travel safe purse with a ‘slash proof’ strap. Slashing the strap of a bag is a quick way for thieves to make off with your belongings. Some of these handbags also sport anti-scan pockets for credit cards. If you’re super uptight, you might also consider purchasing an anti-scan wallet.

4. Make the call

Calling your credit card company to let them know you’re traveling could stop fraud before it starts. I always call Visa the week before I travel, to give them a list of the countries I’m visiting. Once when I didn’t do this, my credit card was denied in London because Visa flagged it. They thought the recent charges (clothes, clothes and more clothes) were unusual and potentially fraudulent. Um, OK. I also have my credit card company’s number programmed into my phone, so I can call collect if needed from the road.

traveller waiting

5. Keep ‘Tommy Tourist’ on a tether

Does your travel companion have “Tommy Tourist written on their forehead? If so, consider commandeering their documents and money, only doling out what’s needed when it’s needed. 

Tommy tourist

6. Bling is the thing!

I never travel with my best jewelry. Not so much because I’m worried about it getting stollen (though 17% believe it can make you a target for thieves), but because I’m apt to leave it at the hotel. There’s nothing worse than having to repurchase your anniversary present because you “misplaced” the original at a hotel.

packing luggage

I also travel with inferior luggage, as do 27% of survey respondents. Unless you’re flying on a private jet, I don’t see the point of toting designer suitcases. You know luggage gets banged up and filthy, so why would you invest in a depreciating asset that’s a potential target? I’ve had my luggage taken by other travellers four times and lost for three days in Bahrain. I do what I can to make it look different enough, so other’s don’t accidentally grab the wrong bag, but it still happens from time to time.

Have you ever had anything stolen on your travels? What tips to do you take to avoid travel theft?

P.S. You also might enjoy reading Best travel apps and How to breeze through airport security.

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About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

12 Comments

  1. Heather 01.06.2015 at 12:44 - Reply

    Awesome tips! I always worry about losing things too. Love the twist tie idea.

  2. Sonia 01.06.2015 at 15:13 - Reply

    When leaving my hotel room, and I see the maid in the hallway,,,
    I pretend there’s someone else in the room and I turn back too have a short conversation with the imaginary person in the room, telling them I would probably be back in about forty five minutes and hope they would be ready then….
    It makes me feel better that the maid then thinks there’s someone in there while I’m gone…
    Sonia

    • Jody 01.06.2015 at 15:18 - Reply

      Such a great idea! I do that whenever I leave my house, but never thought to do it in a hotel room.

  3. I once had my credit cards stolen in a hostel in Bangkok. That wasn’t fun; good thing she only managed to charge $350 before my bank denied the transactions (the bank still made me pay though. Sucks). Now, I’m more careful about my stuff, making sure I lock them up even if I just have to go to the toilet. I certainly learned my lesson the hard way.

  4. Corinne 03.06.2015 at 20:57 - Reply

    Had my wallet stolen with EVERYTHING in it on the first night of a six week solo jaunt through Europe. Lesson learned: don’t leave bag hanging off a chair in a crowded pub.

    • Jody 04.06.2015 at 22:06 - Reply

      Even though it was a great lesson, what a hard one to learn! My friend had her purse stolen at a pub, too. From now on we keep our purses on our laps or I hook my leg through the straps.

  5. Cathy Sweeney 04.06.2015 at 14:43 - Reply

    Knock on wood, I haven’t had anything stolen during my travels yet and take all advice about how to keep that from happening in the future. Interesting about the luggage twists – I think I’ll give that a try.

    • Jody 04.06.2015 at 22:05 - Reply

      Hope it works for you!

  6. Colleen Lanin 04.06.2015 at 17:48 - Reply

    Great tips! I haven’t had anything stolen since my purse was nabbed in Paris when I was 15 years old. Will keep these in mind to keep my good streak going!

  7. Meg Jerrard 04.06.2015 at 20:12 - Reply

    Fantastic tips here – I especially love the point about the zip ties, my father taught me that one at a young age, so I’ve sworn by it ever since! Very easy way to know if your bag has been tampered with!

    • Jody 04.06.2015 at 22:07 - Reply

      How lucky for you, your Dad is also a savvy traveller!

  8. Allison 05.06.2015 at 20:06 - Reply

    Twist ties are such a simple solution. Love it!

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