I just returned from a 2 week trip abroad and was appalled to see how unprepared – no, unaware – many of the women travelers were. Crime happens. Sure, it can happen anywhere, but the risks go up when you are in unfamiliar places and are distracted by all there is to see around you. Purse snatchers, theives and pick-pockets realize this makes you vulnerable and that is why they target travelers.
These photos were taken discreetly of women travelers in our group.
Every one of the scenarios screams “STEAL THIS PURSE”. They are BIG (what could you possibly need in there for a day of visiting churches and wineries?). They are worn on one shoulder making them easy to grab and go. Others were worn “cross-body” but towards the back. As with backpacks, things worn BEHIND you make it impossible to see what someone is doing.
Think you’d “feel it”? Not likely. These are practiced professionals who would make David Copperfield proud – only it’s your valuables they make disappear!
Think you’re “safe in a group”? I’ve been in plenty of tour groups. It’s easy for a stranger to cozy up to a group, stand and listen to the tour guide and access the best potential victims. It was in just such a circumstance that a fellow traveler was pick-pocketed while on a group tour in Poland. A friend and former policeman ran down a thief on the street in Brazil when he did a “grab and run” of another tourist.
It’s not unusual to be “bumped into” or “jostled” when walking down a crowded street, through a market or even while standing waiting to cross a street. 99% of those “bumps” are innocent accidents, we’re polite and don’t give it another thought. That is what the thieves count on!
You’ll also notice it isn’t very big. Seriously, what do you really need with you? Identification, credit card, a little cash, phone, maybe a small digital camera (which is generally on my wrist/in my hand ready to shoot). Even if you toss in some tissues and gum, you should be able to get by for these few hours.
Secondly, there are several outside zipper pockets. This gives me easy access to small amounts of cash that I’ve tucked into each section. When bargaining with a merchant, it’s better NOT to pull out ALL your cash or a wallet – a single bill will get you a better deal and make you look like a less attractive target. Plus, if a talented pick-pocket does get into one of the pockets, I’m only out a few dollars. I can also turn it around so the pockets are against my body.
On another day, we’ll cover your “travel wallet” as well as “bling” but for now, focus on your handbag as you plan for summer travel. Travel should be an enriching experience for you – not for some petty thief!