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Generally speaking, traveling is a wonderful experience but occasionally things such as theft do happen. Read one traveler’s story on how her purse was stolen in broad daylight and the steps she wishes she had taken to prevent the incident from occurring.
Travel Safety Tips
Written by: Annie Jarvis
During my 5-month solo adventure in Southeast Asia, my bag was snatched in broad daylight by a passing motorbike.
While I had taken a number of precautions to ensure this didn’t happen, there was definitely more that could have been done. Traveling solo can be a rewarding and exciting challenge, but it can also be rather daunting. Read these four travel safety tips and how they could’ve helped me avoid having my bag stolen:
Locking My Passport
My passport was my most important and valuable possession during my travels and while I was devastated by the loss of everything else I was unbelievably grateful to myself for not carrying it around with me. If I’d been carrying my passport on me the day I was mugged, it would be long gone with my other possessions.
Luckily, I’d followed the advice of a number of travelers – including Travel Fashion Girl – and had locked my passport in the hostel locker.
Although it isn’t always necessary to lock everything away (if you go on a day trip you may want your phone and camera), I know that I could have spent a little more time ensuring I only had the bare necessities on me when leaving the hostel.
Because your passport is one of your biggest valuables, I’d consider this to be the most important of these travel safety tips.
Read this post to learn how to keep your passport safe while traveling.
Compass Rose RFID Secret Bra Wallet
One of the biggest things I have learnt from my experience is to separate my valuable items and keep those I do not need locked away.
Unfortunately the purse that was stolen was carrying both my credit card and my debit card (the only two cards I had on my trip). This meant that I had absolutely no way of taking money out of the bank and created the hassle of having to constantly visit Western Union.
From now on I know to separate my cards and leave one with my passport (along with emergency cash), ensuring I am able to access money even if the worst should happen.
Read this post to learn about anti-theft travel accessories, like a bra stash and neck pouch.
As well as packing more appropriately one of the most important lessons I have learnt is to not get lazy. No matter how hung-over you are or how comfortable you feel if you start to act careless with your possessions someone will notice.
On the day I was mugged I had my handbag hanging over the shoulder closest to the road. This made me an easy target, which is why my possessions were taken and no one else’s.
From that point on I ensured that my bag was fastened securely with the strap across my body and I walked with my purse away from the road.
For extra precaution, try using anti-theft travel bags like these.
The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that everything is replaceable.
I came out feeling stronger; knowing I’d learned a few valuable lessons and also that I could carry on traveling once everything was sorted.
However, had I taken a few extra precautions and followed these travel safety tips, I may well have prevented myself from being robbed. If I follow this advice in the future I know that should the worst happen, it will make moving forward that little bit easier.
The secret to traveling light is to create a functional but minimalist capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
In addition to the safety tips shared above such as carrying your bag away from the road and splitting up your valuables, some female travelers also like using anti-theft bags to deter pick pockets. These are the most popular styles:
The 5 Best Anti-Theft Travel Bags for Women
1st Column: Travelon Classic Messenger Bag / Travelon Bucket Bag
2nd Column: Travelon Black Crossbody Bag Best Seller!
3rd Column: Pacsafe Green 200 Gii Shoulder Bag / Pacsafe Blue 200G ii Handbag
An anti-theft purse is a purse with built-in safety features. It’s designed to help you avoid becoming a victim of theft at home or abroad. Pick pockets tend to target busy tourist areas in large cities all over the world; some female travelers feel safer with an anti-theft purse vs a regular purse.
While they are optional and not always a necessity, anti-theft travel bags can help protect your belongings by making it more difficult for thieves to slash through your bag or cut the strap.
To learn more about anti-theft purses, please read this article for more information.
Watch the video above for more tips on how to keep your stuff safe while traveling.
Whether you choose to travel with one of these anti-theft travel bags for women or a regular purse, follow these precautions:
- Choose a cross body purse and always wear the strap across your body; don’t wear the strap hung over one shoulder.
- Avoid carrying all your valuables (including your passport) in your travel purse in busy tourist areas or when attending markets or festivals.
- Use additional anti-theft products like a bra pouch or money belt to hide the majority of your cash. Only carry the money in your wallet that you’ll need for the day. See a full listing of anti-theft products here!
- Have your bag positioned towards the front, not against your back side when walking.
- Hold your purse close to you when in crowded trains or public transportation.
- Avoid walking next to the street where your travel purse could be yanked from your arm by a motorbike or vehicle.
- Look up scams and thefts in your travel destination. For example, search topics like “Bali scams” or “Tourist theft risks in London”.
Watch my video on TPSY TV for a few more anti-theft products.
Items featured in video (in order as shown)
Please note: These travel safety tips and anti-theft products are meant to encourage cautious travel but cannot guarantee that theft won’t occur.
Editor’s Note: These stories are not meant to scare you. That’s the last thing we want you to feel — the world is a much safer place than we give it credit for. It’s good to be well-informed and cautious, but please don’t feel paranoid.
Fortunately, in over nine years of full time travel I’ve never had my travel bags, purse, or any other belongings stolen (so far). So, while theft does occur, it shouldn’t deter you from enjoying your travels.
While theft isn’t 100% avoidable, you can take smart precautions to avoid it as and stay safe at home and abroad.
Do you have any travel safety tips to share? Please comment below!
For more travel tips, please read:
- The Best Anti-theft Travel Purses
- Will these Safe Travel Essentials Protect You?
- Most Recommended Anti-theft Products
- Keeping Your Valuables Safe Abroad
We hope you liked these travel safety tips. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio: Annie Jarvis is relatively new to the traveling world and has just completed a five month journey around South East Asia, India and the US. She loves diving, skiing, cooking and hiking and in particular she loves to write about her adventures on her Refreshing the Page blog.
Usually when I am out and about traveling I have an over shirt or light jacket in case it gets cold. I also use me overshirt/ jacket to prevent purse theft.
When in a busy and touristy area, I put my cross body bag on first, then put my over shirt or jacket over my purse and strap– keeping the bag on my front side. This prevents people from being able to cut the strap! Usually they can’t tell you have a bag at all!
Thank you for sharing your safety tips with us Emily! Safe and stylish travels 🥰
I just got back from a trip to Paris where my bag was stolen 2 days before my flight home. Needless to say those last 2 days were ruined. I am just back home & still picking up the pieces. In my bag was my wallet, month-old iphoneX, and lots of personal effects, ie makeup, pocket calendar, my rosaries, pens, etc. My biggest mistake I can see right away was not going through my wallet before leaving. I took it as is, plus euros! My medicare card with my ss#! That scares me the most. Drivers license, Credit cards for US stores. Health insurance cards, 2 gift cards for US stores. A check someone gave me that I didn’t cash. All these things should have been weeded out & left behind. I just wan’t thinking…I’m an awful creature of habit and had a special pocket in my bag where I keep my senior NYC metro card. I remember saying-I should leave this at home. It’s a pain to replace. I was more worried about losing something that being robbed.
My thinking is completely changed! I have been through hell replacing, reporting, Am Embassy, bank, cash advance from Western Union, calling credit cards, and I’m not done yet. I will never take more than the one credit card I use for travel, and cash. And my bag will never leave my body. The one thingI did right was leave my passport in my hotel room.
I do think it was largely my fault for leaving my bag on the seat next to me in an outdoor cafe. I feel like an idiot. Hope I can be smarter now. I was great to hear all TFG’s tips & strategies for being robbery proof.
Hi Chris, I am so sorry to hear that but thank you for sharing your experiences. Thank you so much for your feedback!
I recently had my”prada” sunnies stolen from the side pocket of my backpack, skillfully lifted I’m pretty sure as they could not have fallen out. I am more carefull with items of value, camera wallet etc, but I guess they were good fakes and looked worth stealing. Now I’m squinting and trying to find replacements that I like whilst on the road ?
That absolutely sucks… so sorry you went through this on your trip. Having anything stolen from you is absolutely frustrating, but when you are in a different country without a single credit card or cash… it can be even
more aggravating. I always leave my passport in the hotel safe and IF i’m bringing any valuables, I carry them with in either in my carry on or handbag. I usually bring my handbags and sunglasses in my carry on as well because I don’t trust putting them in my checked bags. I hope you don’t have to experience this ever again!
I wouldn’t put my passport or credit cards/cash in a bag. I always have them on my body. I bought a ScotteVest that has over 40 pockets and RFID protection. It looks good and you can fit a full sized tablet and a water bottle in it too. It is really easy just to take that sightseeing without a bag. A breeze through security too. I just take the whole thing off and put it on the conveyor belt. It was not cheap though. Over $100, but it is well made and will last for years.
Other than that, be watchful of your surroundings! It amazes me to see tourists walking around, not paying attention. Be a bit discreet when handling cash. Don’t take a big wad out and then remove a small bill to pay for something. Also if you are with someone travelling, you can trade credit and debit cards so each one has one of each other’s cards. If one of you is robbed, you still have your card that your partner was carrying.
These are great tips Diana 🙂 Thanks for sharing them!
My personal routine to try to keep myself and my things safe are (1) I keep my apartment key in my pants pockets so I can always get back “home” and behind locked doors if robbed (and I hate carrying things in my pockets); (2) always divided cards, ID and money and carry only the minimum, travel days are tough, but still try to keep something separate in case my purse is taken; (3) use a small change purse where I put my money and possibly 1 credit card to use for that day and keep ID and credit card in a separate location in my purse so if I’m robbed, I can give them the change purse that they likely saw me take out at the restaurant/store; (4) always carry my bag cross-body and towards the front. I swear by Pacsafe bags!
That’s a well-thought out plan Clariza! It’s always good to have a safety routine at home and on the road too
I’d suggest trying not to carry cash or a credit card in a bag if you are in a strange place. Locking up your passport and extra cash and cards is a great idea, but if you need some money or a credit card you could put it inside your clothes in a small pouch or even keep it in your bra.
Hi Susan, great tip!
So sorry this happened to you!
About 6 months ago, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I was carrying my wristlet and taking photos with my small camera. I started walking and someone on a motorcycle came up in back of me and grabbed the wristlet bag out of my hand and started down the road. Fortunately, since the strap was around my wrist, I could hold that and gave a good strong yank – the nylon bag slid right out of the mugger’s hand, and I was able to grab my bag back as the driver and passenger zoomed off down the road.
And yes, after that, I walked on the inside edge of the sidewalk, as far as I could from the road.
After living in Koh Samui where bag snatching was prevalent I actually stopped using a purse and got used to it so now I hardly ever do.
We have found the most dangerous time is when you are travelling to your next destination. We were fully loaded up with all our bags when my husband was unknowingly robbed on a crowded train. Although we take more precautions now it is still a time when you have your passport, cards and cash with you and it is easy to be distracted.
Sorry to hear that happened to you. I agree. Travel days really are the biggest risk. During those times I prefer to keep valuables like cards and passports on my body using theftproof items like these: https://travelfashiongirl.com/best-money-belts-and-anti-theft-travel-accessories/
I always wear my bag across my body, but I have never even thought about wearing it away from the road. I also always consider leaving one of my cards back in the hotel, but I usually don’t. I need to start doing it. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be stuck somewhere with no access to money. Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for sharing Sarah!
I also got robbed in Milan a few years ago. And although the thief just stole the money and throw away my wallet with my ID and a few other cards it was pretty much all the money I had left on my trip. It happened to me while shopping at some ZARA store while I was distracted by picking clothes, but the thing is, I wasn’t the only one robbed that day in the same store. So my advice would be to be careful not just in the street, but also keep your bag and belongings always safe, cause you never know where this could happen to you.
Sorry that also happened to you. Thank you for the good advice!