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Staying Secure

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 difficult?

  • 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 management.
  • 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 cash secure.

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.

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