When travelling, it is always safer to expect the unexpected. Inconveniences such as getting pickpocketed, scammed or losing belongings can seriously ruin an otherwise enjoyable trip. Taking necessary precautions can make vacation trips much smoother, and habituating these into your travelling routine allows you to focus more on what matters most – having fun.
1) Forgetting or losing things.
When travelling, you can be your own worst enemy. As such, you are more likely to forget or lose your things than to have someone steal it from you.
Out of the many countries I’ve visited, I have never had anything stolen from me. However, I have lost important things twice. The first time was when I dropped my passport on an aircraft – fortunately, the airline staff returned it to me. The second time was when I got off an intercity coach and forgot to retrieve my luggage. Luckily, I also managed to get that back. While I’ll never forget these misadventures, it’s best not to stray off the path of rest and relaxation when on holiday.
Therefore, it is a must to practice good habits like checking your hotel room or your transport throughly before leaving. Moreover, before leaving any counter, make sure your travel documents and credit cards are on your person.
2) Losing your travelling companions
I once lost a travelling companion in an Indian airport – we were separated in the queue and had no idea if he was delayed in the immigration queue, exiting the airport, or deported! Fortunately, after a few hours of searching, we found him waiting in a café outside.
On another occasion, I lost a friend while on a mountain. However, we found him again after a few hours. In both situations, precious time that could have been used to sightsee instead went into re-grouping.
Hence, to avoid situations like these, stick close to your travelling companions. Additionally, always agree on meeting points in advance. Even more so, if possible, ensure that everyone travelling in your party has a local SIM card or data roaming, which should not be too expensive to obtain in most countries.
Falling victim to a pickpocket is a common fear, and it has hindered travellers from visiting cities like Barcelona, Rome, and Paris.
However, these thieves are not unbeatable. Online advice often suggests using a money belt, and splitting up cash between your luggage, day pack and the money belt. One tactic I personally use in cities infested with pickpockets is to not carry a wallet at all. This is because a pocketed wallet can easily be seen from afar by experienced pickpockets.
So, I simply slide bills into my breast pocket or a jacket pocket, and put coins into my trouser pocket. Overall, this trick has been effective so far, as I have never been pickpocketed.
4) Snatch thieves
Once, while one of my friends was about to put away his change from a street vendor in Paris, a thief had snatched the notes from his hand. It happened faster than we could blink. To avoid this, always have a good situational awareness. This will make you a less attractive target. Try not to be the tourist multiple luggages while fumbling with change.
Additionally, beware of thieves trying to grab your change when you buy train tickets at railway stations. Thus, it is better to slip your notes into a breast pocket or jacket pocket, which is also more difficult for thieves to get into than your trouser pockets.
As travelers, we may think that we are smart enough to avoid getting scammed or ripped off. But, the truth is, it happens to the best of us. Therefore, it is important to know what kind of scams exist, and what to do should the situation arise.
In short, read up online about common scams in the area you are travelling to. From being ridiculously overcharged on cab rides to unknowingly revealing credit card information, travel scams are plentiful. However, the abundance of shared knowledge, personal experience and stories on the web will help you counter them easily.
Written by Steve Teo