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How to avoid getting robbed while traveling – locally & overseas


Before we launch ourselves on how you can avoid getting robbed while on a holiday, let us assure you that most of the travelers get back home after a pleasant holiday with lots of memories.

Nobody wants their holiday to be a bad experience but that’s exactly what happens when you get robbed while traveling overseas.

You may be on a holiday with your family or you may be traveling alone but the moment someone picks your pocket or runs off with a bag of yours, your vacation ends.

Material loss is manageable, but if your documents such as passports etc are stolen your holiday plans can go for a toss.

You may be traveling in a developing country such as India, Myanmar, Kenya etc or you may be traveling through Europe but the fear of thieves exists everywhere.

Pickpockets, bag grabbers, petty criminals exist everywhere just that in a mainstream tourist location your chances of being robbed are low.

Your chances are being robbed in Europe may be lesser than being robbed while holidaying in South America, Asia, or Africa but why increase your chances by not taking anti-theft precautions.

If you are traveling for the first time, check out our travel tips for first time travelers.

Do remember that folks in all continents and countries can cheat, fool you with fraud schemes, burgle, or swindle you – if you give them an opportunity.

The trick is in keeping yourself safe from such undesirable elements by following some simple precautions.

If you follow our safety tips for peaceful holidays, you can even travel to offbeat locations without fear of being burgled.

You can travel to Peru or Sudan or Somaliland with the same flair as you would visit Berlin or Paris.

Learn from the locals

Connect with locals to avoid getting robbed
If you mingle with the locals you will get inside information on how you can avoid getting robbed. They know where to go and where not to go. They know when to step out and when to remain inside. Once they become your friend, they will make sure you are safe. Image: Essentialtravel.co.uk

Before traveling to your holiday destination you would have anyway done your research on how safe the place is but we also recommend checking with the locals.

Ask a young local and ask an elderly local so that you get a better picture of the safety situation in your place of travel.

Also observe how they hold their bags, how they move around their things – watching the locals can give you a good idea of what you should do with your things.

Appear confident

This applies to women and men travelers alike – be confident and walk with your head held high.

Don’t be unsure of where you going, or what you doing because that yet again is an invitation to the thieves.

Robbers don’t come after travelers who are sure of themselves and appear strong.

Don’t show off your material belongings

Avoid getting robbed - Don't show off possessions
There is no point in tempting fate by displaying your material possessions all the time. Agreed, you have to take out your costly camera to take a photo but do remember to keep it back inside once the photograph has been taken. Same applies to your costly mobile and other accessories. By exposing your material possessions, you are only attracting undue attention of a thief. Image: Thatbackpacker.com

We all carry costly material things such as mobiles and cameras while traveling.

To avoid being robbed while traveling the simplest thing you can do is not let the whole world know that you have costly items.

If the place is crowded, or if the place doesn’t have many people we recommend that you be careful about taking out your costly material belongings.

If you must, take out your mobile take a photo and quickly keep it in your pocket.

Walking with your mobile or camera in your hand is a strict no.

While in a restaurant or waiting in the lobby of a hotel many of us have the habit of leaving all our things on the table – this also is a sure shot invitation for trouble.

Be on the lookout for followers

A thief or a robber will follow you, watch you closely for some time before striking.

That’s how they ensure easy targets.

Be watchful and be alert and if you realize that you are being followed, shake them off.

This is easier said than done, but is worth a shot. One of the easy ways to shake off a stalker is to step into a café and spend a few hours.

Wear suitable clothes

Wear clothes where you can feel when something is being taken.

Most of us wear lose clothes while on a holiday and this makes the life of the pickpockets easy – they can get away with your wallet without you even knowing about it.

Clothes that fit can help you feel the touch when someone picks your pocket.

We also strongly recommend that you buy appropriate traveling clothes with secret pockets and compartments, which can help you protect your material belongings.

Leave your valuables at your hotel

Some of you won’t agree to this, but in our experience, most theft happens while you are out on the street.

Hotels are relatively safer than the streets you roam.

Therefore, you should pack your valuables in your bag and leave it behind in the hotel.

Some hotels have safety lockers at the reception which you can use.

However, if you are planning to leave money in a safety locker make sure you put them in an envelope and close it – so that if someone steals some, you will know.

Be alert while waiting or resting

Be alert and don't get robbed
A tourist is most vulnerable when he or she is waiting or resting. Since you are not on the move, the robber gets enough time to plan his (or her) move and make an escape. The only way you can avoid getting robbed while waiting or resting is by being alert. Image: Videvo.net

We tend to lower our guard while in a restaurant waiting for our food, or while sitting under a tree resting.

The trick is not to lower our guard.

Never hang your bag on the back of a chair or leave it on the floor next to your chair.

Unless of course, you put your chair’s leg over the strap.

While in a restaurant, don’t accept any food provided by other customers.

If you are waiting for your train or bus and have many bags, please pass a piece of cord through the handles of the bags to secure them.

We also tend to lower our guard when we feel sick.

Be extra vigilant while traveling at night

We are all adults and hence don’t need company but when it is night time and you are in a foreign land, try not to be alone.

Traveling alone at night is an open invitation for thieves, robbers, and petty criminals.

If you are landing at your destination late at night take a taxi to your hotel.

If you are getting back to your hotel after a late-night party, see if some local can drop you.

Avoid walking alone in places where anti-social elements can hide and surprise you – places such as overpasses of highways, back alleys etc.

Recommended Reading: Convince your spouse to travel with you

Protect yourself in your hotel at night

If you are staying in budget hotels or hostel, take extra precaution at night.

We recommend you bring a rubber wedge to keep your door closed at night.

In case your window doesn’t have a latch, we recommend you place something made of metal on the sill.

This will ensure, enough noise to wake you up if your window is opened at night.

Carry cash carefully

To avoid getting robbed, carry less cash
Robbers prefer stealing cash. No ATM pins to remember, no selling of goods to convert them into cash, no explaining to the buyer of stolen goods…nothing. They can just walk away with your cash and start spending. Don’t make it easy on the thief by carrying lots of cash. Image: Mashable.com

We all need cash while traveling – even backpackers carrying their supply of cash for the duration of their travel with them.

To ensure your cash is safe, carry it in a money belt, neck pouch or a deep pocket.

If you are wearing loose trousers, ensure you have zipped pockets -pickpockets and thieves hate zipped pockets.

We also recommend that you keep a small amount of money in your wallet which you can give away when threatened.

Divide your money and cards and keep them multiple places.

Keep copies of your documents

Keep at least three copies of your documents with you. We suggest one photocopy always be in your hotel room, second copy can be in your trouser pocket and the originals can be in the backpack you are carrying.

While the pickpocket is not after your documents, they become unintentional victims of a theft and you end up suffering.

What to do when robbed?

Got robbed? Visit tourist police
Most major tourist destinations have Tourist Police. If despite all your precautions if you still get robbed, look for the nearest Tourist Police station. If there is none nearby, visit the nearest regular police station and file a complain. Image: Huahintoday.com

Despite all these precautions, you may still get robbed of your valuables while on a holiday abroad.

Don’t panic and don’t go into a shell.

First evaluate what all was stolen, and what the damage is.

Next, ask a local for the exact address of the place where your things were taken from you and finally head to the nearest police station.

File a report with the station head, mentioned all details of the items stolen, and the exact location of the incident.

Once the station head confirms that the report has been filed and they will try their best…request for a copy of the report. You will need it for your insurance claims.

Recommended Reading
1. Places in Asia for solo travelers on a budget
2. How to save money while traveling

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

1 thought on “How to avoid getting robbed while traveling – locally & overseas”

  1. Another tip: don’t sleep on the streets after all your money is taken out of your wallet in your AirBNB and you’re female. Because then you’ll add being raped to the laundry list of what all went wrong.


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