Let’s face it, nobody wants to get mugged (let alone on holiday!), but sadly it is a common occurrence. When you’re in unfamiliar territory, unsure of the safety risks of your location and have a handbag full of potential valuables, you’re an attractive option for opportunists. Here are ten tips on how not to get mugged when you travel.
1. Leave the jewels at home
If you’re going from your hotel to a limo to the opera and back, you’ll probably be safe popping the diamond earrings in, but if you’re considering a trip into the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, you’ll need to think again. Jewellery is both a sign of wealth and a good reason to mug a person. Even costume jewellery can be perceived as valuable (the thief doesn’t know if you’re wearing glass or diamond) so the best advice is to leave anything that can be considered valuable at home.
2. Keep your camera incognito
Slinging your SLR around your neck might feel convenient, but it not only screams ‘tourist’, it shouts ‘rob me’. The vast majority of people I have heard about being mugged while they travel were doing something very obvious with a large, expensive camera. Keep your camera in your bag and, ideally, in an incognito casing (a sock works well).
3. Re-consider your handbag
Designer or expensive handbags are undoubtedly beautiful but as well as highlighting your financial position they are usually highly impractical for preventing robbers. An across the body satchel is harder to snatch than an over the shoulder leather version. Even better, a reusable shopping bag or beach bag is casual enough to be less attractive to thieves.
4. Use a money belt with caution
Money belts can be both your friend and enemy. First, most thieves are aware that they exist, although most opportunists will give them a miss for being too difficult to access. However, standing at a cash machine shuffling wads of cash in and out of your money belt is even more risky than simply slipping it into your purse.
5. Play on the safe side of the street
Wander into the seedy side of a neighbourhood (most places have them) and you are instantly putting yourself at risk of robbery or worse. Ask at your hotel about places to avoid and keep them off your travel itinerary. If you choose to visit for interest reasons, take nothing of value with you other than a small amount of money.
6. Don’t get in cars with strangers
You’ll remember this advice from being a child and it extends into adult travelling life, too – if you don’t know the credentials of your taxi driver i.e. he or she is not licensed in the relevant city then do not get into a car with them. Once inside and moving at speed you have very few escape options.
7. Don’t get drunk
One of the first things to leave you when you are inebriated is your wits. That’s not to say don’t go out and enjoy yourself, just make sure you carry few valuables on you, have a plan to get home (in a licensed taxi) and know the safety of the area you’re visiting before you go.
8. Never look lost
Being lost and looking lost are two entirely different things. A person who doesn’t know where they are is much more likely to be targeted by a mugger. When your mind is focused on getting to your destination from your unknown location, you’re less focused on your belongings.
9. Be aware and be confident
Walking tall, with a confidence that shows you are aware of your surroundings sends a very different message to a potential mugger compared to a person who has their head down, earphones in and is walking like they’re scared of their own shadow. Pay attention to the people around you and be confident, even if it’s an act.
10. Have a ‘getting mugged’ plan
Whether you carry an expired credit card in a fake wallet or a roll of $1 bills (US currency is valued and understood in most places around the world) , it’s a good idea to have something to hand over if you do get mugged. It’s not a pleasant thing to plan for, but you’ll be grateful if the worst happens.
Do you have any other tips for how not to get mugged when you travel?