Twelve Ways to Trick Thieves As You Travel

by | Jan 9, 2018

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Last updated on April 4th, 2020

Protecting your valuables on the road

Avoid becoming a prime target for thieves. Choose your travel wardrobe carefully, eliminating bright colors and fancy jewelry. The smart woman traveller wants to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

  1. Be vigilant at airport check-ins and at train and bus stations. Always keep your luggage in front of you where you can see it at all times.
  2. Carrying a computer? Don’t send it through x-ray security check until you’re ready to go through yourself. Scam artists work in teams. The man in front of you holds the line up by deliberately leaving change in his pocket and setting off the metal detector. While you’re waiting to go through, his partner is picking “your” computer off the conveyor belt.
  3. Always carry a light scarf in your bag. It’s perfect for tying your camera bag or your computer to your luggage cart. Imagine a thief’s surprise when he tries to “snatch and run.”
  4. The ideal travel handbag has an inner zippered compartment and is only big enough to carry a bit of money and a few essentials. It should also have a long shoulder strap that’s thick enough not to be easily cut. Wear the strap across your body with the purse in front, against your stomach. Get used to keeping a hand on your bag at all times. With that kind of body language, pickpockets will not even bother to come near you!
  5. However, if someone tries to mug you, avoid harm by giving your purse up immediately. Because…you’ll be carrying your real valuables– your extra cash, credit cards, travellers cheques and bank cards under your clothes, next to your body in a cotton money belt.
  6. And, if you’re uncomfortable with a money belt, consider a women’s unique half slip called “Hidden Assets” which has three secret pockets sewn into the hem. It’s ideal for carrying your valuables!
  7. Always double lock your hotel room door. And, if you can’t do this where you’re staying, then never leave your valuables unattended. It’s no effort to bring your purse or money belt into the bathroom when you’re showering. This way you know they’re safe.
  8. Keep your alcohol consumption down when you’re out and about. If you don’t have your wits about you, you become a vulnerable target or… you might even leave your credit card behind at a restaurant and not know it’s gone until you’re in the next town.
  9. Ninety-nine per cent of the people who offer a traveller food or drink are simply being kind. Be very wary of the remaining 1%. Drugging is always a possibility and you could wake up to find all your money and credit cards gone.
  10. Never, never count your money in public. This is an open invitation to be robbed.
  11. Want to fool thieves completely? At your destination, buy something at the local grocers. Then use their plastic bag to carry your wallet and your camera. No one will never guess that you’re toting money and a Kodak rather than milk and cucumbers!

Help! my cards are gone!

Ms.Sam Bachand is the Royal Bank’s Manager of Retail Foreign Exchange Services. Journeywoman asked what she would do if her credit card and bank card were stolen in a small town in Italy at 11 o’clock in the evening.

Sam writes…if I’ve prepared properly, this theft would only be a terrible inconvenience, not a huge calamity. Here are a few of my know-before-you-go hints…

1) Diversify your money! Take travellers cheques, credit cards, bank cards as well as cash (U.S. cash is best because it’s recognized in most places). Never carry everything in the same place.

2) Be prepared! Before you leave home, record (in triplicate) the numbers on your travellers cheques, credit cards and bank cards. The same applies to all the 800 numbers you might need to report a theft. Leave one list with someone at home, one goes into your money belt and one stays in your suitcase.

3) Be creative! Hide your emergency money in strange places — a vitamin pill bottle with a few pills in it is great. The bottle isn’t see-thru and thieves are generally not interested in your Vitamin C.

4) Be very sure to check the restrictions on your credit cards. Did you know that some cards are not replaceable internationally if they’re stolen?

5) Ask your bank for an extra client card. If the first is taken, you still have the second one to withdraw cash with.

A JourneyWoman Bonus Tip

When other travellers ask you what you do for a living and you’re not sure if they can be trusted, tell them you’re a policewoman on holiday. I do it all the time just to be on the safe side.

(Source: Evelyn Hannon, Editor Journeywoman)

Automated Bank Machines

Do’s & Taboos of Withdrawing Cash

  • Check your surroundings — if the ABM is in a poorly lit or hidden area, use another one.
  • Have your card ready — don’t wait until the last minute to go through your purse to find it.
  • Use your body to hide the transaction so that anyone behind can’t see you entering your PIN number.
  • Never leave your receipt behind — always take it with you for your records.
  • Suspicious about anything? Cancel your transaction and leave immediately!

Beware Tourist Con Games

In Brazil, bag slicers are common. Your pocket, knapsack or soft-sided suitcase is slit open with a concealed razor, often you don’t even feel it, nor suspect the innocent-looking child or smiling lady standing quietly beside you. Beware tourist con games!
(Resource: Sandy Huff, Travel Writer, Safety Harbor, Florida)

Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, and unknowingly became the world's first female travel blogger. She inspired a sisterhood of women, a grassroots movement, to inspire women to travel safely and well, and to connect women travellers around the world. She passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on.

1 Comment

  1. Auds

    Carry an easily accessible wallet with a small amount of money and dummy credit cards. If you’re in a situation where someone has confronted you demanding your wallet, throw it away rather than handing it over. They are usually after your valuables and will move to retrieve your wallet giving you the opportunity to run.


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