While you are enjoying your travel experiences with your travel companion(s), as discussed in my last blog post, often overlooked is a sense of awareness around you. Because we are on vacation, sometimes we let our guards down and don’t take proper security measures to ensure that our belongings (and ourselves) are safe and sound. No, this does not mean you should stop living in the moment and enjoy your travels, rather having a sense of your surroundings enhances your travel experiences.
When it comes to being pick-pocketed or being caught in the wrong area of town, people often think, ‘it’s not going to happen to me.’ However, this type of thinking can be misleading and is often when it is most likely to happen in travel if you aren’t careful. This same type of ‘it won’t happen to me’ thinking occurs in everyday life, but at least in this case you are in a familiar area.
The need for self-awareness and mindfulness of your surroundings is heightened during travel. In travel, there’s always the potential you could be in danger or the target for theft since you are in a new and unknown environment and/or the people around you might not have good intentions. Often in life, we want to think the best of people, but in reality, this isn’t always the case.
In travel, we see the world often through rose coloured glasses and can become distracted with getting to a destination or enjoying the views (like taking in the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) pictured below) rather than being cognizant of your surroundings (did you also notice how busy it is in the square, or were you too busy looking at the Duomo?).
A great example of this is when my boyfriend and I were walking from a metro station together to get to our Airbnb in Milan, Italy. I was walking a few steps behind my boyfriend carrying my purse across the front of my body. This was a strategic decision as it would be harder to steal this way. I was dragging my carry-on rollaway bag behind me when my boyfriend noticed a man who had passed us and was eyeing my purse down. Little did I know he did a sharp U-turn as he passed me and began to follow us. Fortunately, my boyfriend saw this and made direct eye contact with the person who then quickly walked away and did not pursue any further. While, I did take precaution of having my purse in front of me, this did not deter him from thinking I could be his next target as he could see that I was distracted by getting to our next place and keeping pace (perks with travelling with a companion).
Don’t let potential thieves take advantage of you. Be both present and aware by taking precaution so you are not a target!
Here are 5 tips to help not fall victim to potential thievery while travelling:
- Keep your belongings close to your body. If possible, zip up or button up all belongings especially money, identification cards, and passports – keep these items as close to your body as possible or leave them at the hotel in locked storage. Money belts can be useful in this regard. If you can’t (i.e., a backpack), secure each opening by attaching a rubber band or safety clip so stealing is more difficult.
- Try to blend in with the locals. Often times, in touristy areas, thieves prey on those who look like unwitting tourists. If you can avoid the classic tourist look (looking at a map, wearing running shoes, shorts and a t-shirt, often all at the same time) you become a less obvious target. For example, in Europe, locals generally do not wear shorts, even when it is hot outside! Sometimes dressing the part can deter thieves, pick-pockets, and gypsies.
- Keep eye contact if you think you are being watched. Often, we want to look away from people because it can be awkward to look at people we don’t know in the eye, but in reality, it is crucial to let the potential thief know you are also watching, which deters them from making you their next target. This doesn’t apply to every situation – for example, when gypsies are attempting to sell you things! In these situations, try not to look at them unless you do in fact want to buy something from them, otherwise they will bother you.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. In busy areas (i.e., on public transport), pay special attention to those around you and your belongings and don’t be distracted.
- Have a travel companion. Not only will this enrich your travel experience, but you will also be able to keep an eye out for each other (four eyes are better than two!).
These travel tips also can apply to ordinary daily life, as it’s also important to be both present and aware in every situation you encounter. Having something damaged or stolen from you can put a damper on your day, so don’t let it happen to you!
Live life to the fullest through being present, but do so with a healthy dose of caution and sense of awareness to ensure you don’t regret it (you’ll thank me later). When you are travelling, you want to enjoy the local sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. You do not want to be waiting in a line at the Canadian embassy or consulate trying to get a new passport, or calling credit card companies to cancel them.
Do you have a travel safety tip or do you have a travel experience you would like to share? Don’t forget to like, comment, and share if you found this post helpful – I post a new blog post every Sunday!
Ciao for now,