Elsewhere on Faremax.com you’ll find advice on what to do if
something goes wrong on your vacation, including tips with how to deal with
theft and other crime. The intention of this article is to describe some of the
tactics you can use to make sure you’re not the victim of crime while you’re
enjoying your trip overseas – prevention, after all, is better than cure!
First things first: you really don’t have very much to worry
about. The chances of you being the victim of a serious crime while you’re on
vacation are tiny – in fact, probably a little less than they are at home. In
some parts of the world, however, you will be something of a target for low
level thieves and petty criminals. These guys are usually opportunists who will
not try to steal your stuff if you make it too much of a challenge for them.
So what steps can you take to make the petty thief’s life
Try not stand out from the crowd too much. If you walk around
the streets of a relatively poor city wearing a Rolex, designer clothes and
lots of gold jewellery you’re practically asking to be robbed. It’s also the
kind of behavior that rubs the noses of the locals in the fact of their poverty
and your comparative wealth. For the sake of your security, and the good name
of western tourists abroad, keep things low key.
There are plenty of secure ways of keeping money about your
person. Probably the most common types of petty criminals in tourist areas are
pickpockets and bag snatchers. The former are foiled by secure moneybelts, and
the latter won’t even try to snatch a bag that’s held over both shoulders by a
secure strap. Women are more likely to fall victim to this type of crime than
men – most western men, owing to their better diet, are beefier than their
third world counterparts.
Don’t worry too much about theft of valuables from your hotel
room, especially if you’re staying with a major international chain. In other
hotels you room might contain a safe. It’s a good idea to use this – if only to
ensure that temptation isn’t put in the way of service staff. Many travelers
take their own padlock with them wherever they go to further secure room safes
and eliminate the risk of rogue staff members having copied keys from the
These days, with the prevalence of international ATMs, the
problems of carrying large amounts of cash have generally faded – providing
you’re in an area with ready access to banks. Remember, above all things, to
keep your credit cards in a secure place. Remember, too, that you might be
charged for taking out cash on your credit card – so it could be a good idea to
take some travelers’ checks along with you just in case.
On the subject of credit cards – probably one of the least
secure ways of using card is what they were originally designed for: handing
over to someone in a shop or restaurant. It’s relatively easy these days for
crooked restaurant owners to steal your details, wait for a short time until
you’re safely out of the country, and begin spending your money! If you’re
unsure, it’s probably a good idea to pay for meals in cash. In stores, where
you can see your card being swiped, this is less of a problem. The difficulties
can arise in places like restaurants where the accepted practice is to send the
waiter off with your card at the end of meal.
One way of limiting the problems that may occur if you credit
card details get stolen is to take a pre-paid card on vacation – these are
easily available in all the major marks (Visa, MasterCard and so on), and are
“topped up” before you go with the amount you want – you could take two or
three, each with a couple of hundred dollars.
A great – and cheap – way of keeping your money safe overseas
is to wire it to yourself before you travel. There are far more wire transfer
outlets – in banks, travel agents, small shops and post offices – around the
world than there are ATMs. Before you leave send yourself a number of small
amounts of cash through Western Union or MoneyGram. Take the transfer reference
number with you, and, when you need some cash, drop into your nearest transfer
outlet to pull it down from the system. This is a great way of keeping your
Prevention is better than cure – if you use common sense and
caution while you’re on vacation, there’ no reason why you should have any
major problems with your security.