After “probably about a total of 4,000 days of travel” without being hit by a thief, Rick Steves got pickpocketed in Paris this summer. And because he’s Rick Steves, he’s now written about the experience to help others avoid trouble.
“It was my own fault,” he says. “I wasn’t wearing my money belt—a small pouch worn at the waist under your clothes. I lost my driver’s license, credit cards, and some cash…My experience just goes to show that, sooner or later, if you’re not on guard, wearing a money belt—or at least keeping everything properly zipped and buttoned—you’ll likely be a victim.”
To keep your own valuables safe while traveling, he shares the following tips (direct from the story):
- “Be prepared: Before you go, take steps to minimize your potential loss. Make copies or take photos of key documents, back up your digital data, and password-protect your devices. Leave your fancy bling at home. Luxurious luggage lures thieves: They’ll choose the most impressive suitcase in the pile—never mine.
- Leave it behind: Your valuables are most likely to be stolen when they are with you on the street. Your day bag is at high risk. I find my hotel room is the safest place to leave my passport, laptop, and so on. I wouldn’t leave valuables out in the open in my room—I just tuck things away out of sight…
- Harden targets: Thieves want to quickly separate you from your valuables, so even a minor obstacle can be an effective deterrent. If you’re sitting down to eat or rest, loop your day-bag strap around your arm, leg, or a chair leg. A cable tie, paper clip, or key ring can help keep your bag zipped up tight. The point isn’t to make your bag impenetrable, but harder to get into than the next guy’s.”
For the rest of Rick’s tips and more details from the time he got pickpocketed, see his Tribune story (via MSN) here.
More tips to help you avoid pickpockets
Here’s more to help you limit your risk:
- What City Has the Worst Pickpocket Problem?
- Watch Out for Paris Pickpockets
- Travel Product of the Week: Pickpocket-Proof Pants
- Video: Electronic Pickpocketing
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