Postcards & Passports

How to Steer Clear of Pickpockets When Traveling Solo

When you’re out exploring a new place all on your own, it’s pretty easy to fall in love and lose yourself in the experience. But it’s also easy to lose your belongings to pickpockets, who prey on solo travelers and who can quickly take advantage of unguarded moments. There are many unique freedoms that you can enjoy as a solo traveler in another country. However, you also have to be doubly cautious and vigilant about your safety and wellbeing compared to traveling with a group. Here are some practical tips to help you steer clear of pickpockets and stay safe while still being able to enjoy your solo adventure. 

Pre-Travel Preparations

Before you even step foot in the place you’re traveling to, do your research about it ahead of time. Learn more about the neighborhood where you’ll be staying and map out the tourist spots and attractions you’ll be visiting. Make sure to check out local forums and trustworthy websites that discuss the safety situation in these places before you jet off. Being informed about high-risk zones in a particular area can keep you alert and prepared when you’re actually there. If your research indicates that pickpocketing and other crimes are rampant in the area, consider booking accommodations in a safer and less crowded neighborhood to decrease your chances of encountering pickpockets. 

Aside from doing your research, it’s also essential to prepare both photocopies and digital backups of all your important travel documents. These include your passport, your other valid IDs, and your credit cards. Store them in different places, like in your luggage and on an online storage service, and send copies to someone you trust back home. In the unfortunate event that you do lose your original documents, you’ll at least have multiple means of proving your identity and securing replacements. 

Dressing Strategically

When choosing what to wear for your trip, take note that it’s usually harder for pickpockets to access front pockets, especially if they’re zipped or buttoned. Loose, baggy clothing makes it easier for a thief to slip a hand into your pocket unnoticed. 

Ditch baggy jeans for some well-fitting denim leggings and switch out oversized tops and loose jackets for fitted shirts and cardigans. Not only will you be going through your itinerary with style befitting a local; you’ll also feel safer knowing that fewer pickpockets will take a chance on you.  

Carrying Only the Essentials

As a solo traveler, there’s no doubt you’ll want to spend your days doing different activities. From biking down the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam to wearing a traditional Japanese kimono in Nagoya, you’re likely very excited about what you’ll do during your travels, and this may lead you to pack your bag generously for such occasions. But if you’ll be outside most of the time, it’s doubly important that you pack only the essentials. 

Going around town with a bulky bag is only going to attract unwanted attention from thieves, so make it a point to pack light. Carry only as much cash as you’ll need for the day, and don’t store it all in one place. You can put some in your pocket, wallet, bag, or other storage areas, and you can also take advantage of a “hidden pouch” by wearing a money belt or neck pouch underneath your clothes. Read Seriously, How Can You Travel with Only a Carry-on? for more ideas of how to pack light.

During the Journey

When you find yourself in a crowded plaza or shoulder to shoulder with people in the train, put your bag in front of you where you can see it and easily protect it should the need arise. Keep your hand on your bag whenever possible, especially in areas teeming with people and in tourist spots.

On public transport, try to pick seats in the middle. Seasoned travelers have shared that entrances and exits are usually hotspots for theft, as pickpockets tend to station themselves near the door for a quick escape. Steer clear of pickpockets by making it difficult for them to access you and your belongings.

While you’re on your trip, avoid getting too caught up when taking photos and selfies. Even when you’re holding your phone high and smiling for the camera, continue to stay alert and maintain awareness of your surroundings. 

Also be wary of common scams that thieves employ to trick tourists and travelers, emptying them of their personal items before they even realize it. You can easily search on social media or on a search engine like Google to find other tourists’ experiences with scams in different countries. If you know what to expect, you can avoid falling for these tricks and steer clear of the wiles of tricksters. 

Using Tech to Keep Yourself and Your Belongings Safe

Remember to guard yourself on the digital front by putting passcodes on your phone and tablet. Utilize the other security features on your devices, such as fingerprint scanning and face ID, to make them less useful to thieves. This foresight will also keep your digital wallets and bank accounts from being swiftly drained.  

You should also consider investing in tracking devices, such as pocket-sized GPS trackers, and attaching them to your personal belongings. If one of your items goes missing, you’ll have an avenue for tracking it down and securing the assistance of local law enforcement authorities. Check out Six Travel Safety Tips to Keep You Safe for more ideas.


Be Smart and Safe during Your Solo Adventure

Don’t let fear discourage you from traveling the world solo, but don’t ignore the risks, either. A little caution can go a long way in ensuring that the only thing you’ll lose on your trip is the stress and droll routine brought about by everyday life. Let these tips help guide you to steer clear of pickpockets, so you can enjoy a safe and worry-free adventure. By preparing ahead, being alert, and being smart, you’ll have the best chance of travelling safely.

steer clear of pickpockets

steer clear of pickpockets

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