"" Writer's Wanderings: How To Get Mugged While Traveling

Friday, June 20, 2014

How To Get Mugged While Traveling

"What?!" you say. "Mugged? Who wants that?" No one and yet so many of us become so enrapt as we explore and travel that we neglect the common sense approach we follow at home for personal safety. No matter where you travel, no matter how pleasant and lovely the countryside, if there are tourists about, there will be those who are only too happy to relieve them of their valuables and cash. Here are some of the ways you can attract muggers.

Flash the cash.

Only take with you the cash you think you will need. The rest should be left in the hotel safe in your room or tucked into a carrier that fits inside your pants or shirt against your body. We always try to use a credit card for purchases when we can. First of all you get the best rate of exchange with that and secondly, you are not flashing cash around. Now that's not always possible if you are at a craft market or other local merchant fair. They will mostly want cash. Just be careful as you are counting it out that you're not showing a big wad of greens (or the other colorful money found in some countries).

Men, keep the wallet in the back pocket. Ladies, rely on a fanny pack.

The biggest argument I have with my husband when we travel is that he keeps his wallet in his back pocket. He's been lucky so far especially considering that his most comfortable jeans, shorts, and pants have the outline of the wallet worn into the pocket. Easy enough to spot where it's at. He says he is sensitive enough to feel if someone is picking it. I say, you'd be a lot more sensitive if it was in your front pocket. Someday I'm sure I'll get to say, "I told you so."

Years ago I gave up my fanny pack. It was not only uncomfortable but I discovered from experience that it's not a safe place either. We were visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Lots of people, mostly tourists and of course, as the signs all indicated, lots of pick pockets. A lady rattling off French to me approached with newspapers spread on her arm. She kept getting closer to me and appeared to be trying to sell the papers. I'm not one who enjoys someone getting into my personal space too much so I backed away, put my hands out as if to stop her and loudly said, "No!" No is no in most languages. She moved on but a few minutes later I looked down to see that in a short period of time she had unzipped all three zippers on my fanny pack--zippers that were not easy to work, I might add. Lesson learned. I carry a small cross-the-shoulder purse now and when we are near strangers, I keep it in front of me with one hand on it. 

Find some lonely dark places.

Again in Paris, we decided we wanted to walk to the Eiffel Tower from a restaurant after dinner. It was getting dark but it was a lovely evening and after all, Paris is the city of lights and romance. Sigh. Well we started out without a map and before the apps and GPS we use today and began walking. We could see the Eiffel and we started cutting back and forth still keeping it in sight. I'm not sure how far we walked but it was getting darker and much less populated. Finally we spotted a subway station and decided we'd better give up on the walk. It was getting creepy. Two things here: we should not have been out walking alone in an area we knew nothing about and objects like the Eiffel Tower appear closer than they really are. It's become an inside joke now when we travel but I shudder to think what could have happened and thank God it didn't.

Lose yourself and appear lost.

Take the time to map out where you are going and if you do get lost, move over to a park bench or stop for coffee or tea and take the time to figure it out. A map or smartphone in hand and a 360 turn is a sure indication that you are lost. It's an opportunity for a scam artist, pickpocket, or other non-well-intentioned person to approach you. 

Carry valuables in your backpack!

I would be remiss if I didn't bring this up. This lesson was learned the hard way by my brother-in-law (the one related to the guy who keeps his wallet in his back pocket). He thought he was safe in carrying his iPad in his backpack with him as they toured Venice. His wife happened to notice that it was unzipped. When he took it off to secure the zippers, he realized the iPad was gone. Many times you will see people wearing their backpacks in front of them. Not a bad idea but a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps some backpack makers will look to putting some more secure compartments into their product in the future. It would certainly sell me on their product. 

Leave your common sense at home.

No, no, no! Pack your common sense and carry it with you! This is the best tip I can give you. We don't want to travel in fear of losing valuables or personal safety. Just don't throw caution to the wind. 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...