8 Tips to Outsmart Thieves & Scammers While Traveling

Two travelers are exploring the same city. One is packed in like sardines on a train that is dropping them off for their next tour. They carelessly talk to their spouse while riding the train. Someone bumps them as the train comes to a stop. When they get off of the train they search in their backpack for their ticket and notice that their wallet is missing. In another part of the city, I’m taking photographs of a street performer and someone approaches my husband as he waits standing in the background. A man begins to speak to him in another language. I stop and watch as my husband is trying to explain that he only knows English. My husband and I do not seem as if we are associated. My husband turns to walk away and the man talking to him insists and follows him. I notice the man glance down at my husband’s back pocket where his wallet is located. I know what intentions this man has and I quickly approach them and sternly say, “No” quickly walking myself and my husband away. My husband’s wallet is safely in his back pocket.

What caused the differences between these two outcomes? Following two safety tips to outsmart thieves & scammers got my husband out of this situation. Unfortunately, the other traveler was not so lucky. There are 8 safety tips that everyone should know in order to outsmart thieves & scammers while traveling.

Tip # 8 Research

Before visiting a new location, look into the scams that are popular in that area. There are many scams and tricks that are not as common in other locations. I would rather be paranoid than let my guard down. Scams can vary from someone impersonating police, beggars, or street performers to someone you would never notice that is an expertise on pick pocketing or slashing bags.

Tip # 7 Blend In

Wearing name brand clothing from the states that are not common in Europe or wearing things with logos will make you stand out in a crowd. Americans also tend to talk much louder than Europeans and therefore can easily be spotted. Think of yourself as a giant billboard, but instead of attracting people to sell something you are attracting people to steal from you. Another way in which you can blend in is by trying to avoid looking up at the architecture and trying to conceal your camera. A local has seen the architecture so often that they do not look up nor do they carry cameras.

Tip #6 Wear Your Money in Different Spots

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, or in this case money and important documents. Get a money belt or necklace, jacket with inside zippers, or whatever you need to conceal extra money and documents in random places on you. Tuck some in your sock or bra, but do not wear it all in one spot. This way if you do get pick pocketed you will still have some left elsewhere.

Tip # 5 Buy a Fake Wallet

Someone suggested this to a friend of mine when they were visiting Rome. He said to buy a fake wallet and put it in an easy spot with small change in it. That way if a thief steals the wallet, they will only get away with a small amount and not your real stash. This worked for my friend and he suggested to others as well. It’s a simple safety tip for outsmarting thieves on your next trip.

Tip #4 Don’t Get Distracted

When your baby is crying, it starts suddenly raining, or someone approaches you speaking an unfamiliar language it is easy to get distracted. It is important to try your best to keep focused and know that not everyone around you has good intentions. People will take advantage of families that are distracted, so you have to keep eyes in the back of your head.

Tip #3 Pause and Check 

Every once in a while pause and check yourself. Are you following the tips you know to avoid theft? Also stop and literally check yourself. See if your money is still in the right places, but try to do this where it isn’t obvious. You can escape to a bathroom, your car, or have your family surrounding you.

Tip #2 Travel Insurance

When all else fails you, travel insurance is there for you. You may not think you need it, but if anything gets lost or damaged while you’re traveling the insurance company will reimburse you. Travel insurance is always a good idea for a frequent traveler. As military families we tend to travel often so it will be beneficial in the long run.

Tip #1 Emergency Option

Things don’t always go as planned. As a military family you should know that phrase pretty well. It’s always a great idea to have an emergency option. Keep a list of numbers and a person on call that can come to your rescue if needed. You have an emergency plan for things like fires, tornados, your children getting lost when traveling so why wouldn’t you have one for getting robbed and stranded somewhere without money?

You may not think you will be the victim of a scam, but why would you risk it? These 8 safety tips should be known by everyone in order to outsmart thieves & scammers while traveling. With knowledge and planning you have power and you can rest easy while traveling.

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