It's the kind of thing you think would happen to anyone but you – being pickpocketed, robbed or in short, mugged while away on holiday.
But like it or not, it happens to the best of us. And you can just imagine how losing your valuables such as your wallet, passport, laptop or smartphone can put a serious damper on your holiday – not just in the way of inconvenience but a foul mood!
While we can't control Fate, we can certainly go a long way not to tempt it. Taking certain preventive measures coupled with a bit (ok, a LOT) of alertness and common sense is standard behaviour among all seasoned globetrotters.
Not such a pro traveller? Here are some ways to minimise your risk of being pickpocketed:
1. Make use of the safe in your hotel
Store valuable items which you don't need to take with you in the hotel in-room safe when you're out exploring.
Chances are you won't need to carry your laptop or even your DSLR camera all the time. People tend to be divided on whether to store their passport in the hotel safe (tucked in your pocket, it makes for a quick getaway in dire times) so that's a personal decision.
But it's generally a good idea not to cart around all your valuables on your person at all times. Even if you don't get robbed, there might be a small chance that you'd misplace these items.
2. Be selective about bags
No, we're not talking about being brand-conscious here. Sling and cross-body bags make good travel bags but only if the strap is sturdy enough to withstand snatch thieves with nifty pocket knives.
When walking around, ladies should ensure that their handbags are always kept in front of them (not to the side of the body) in busy areas and away from the traffic side of the road when walking on pavements. Guys who wear waist pouches, commit this fashion sin if you must but at least make sure it's tucked in under the front of your shirt. A hidden money pocket might be a better idea.
3. Don't count your cash in public
It may seem like common sense not to do so but it's really a common mistake among tourists. Especially for those who are unfamiliar with the local currency. This habit draws unwanted attention on the amount of money you're carrying around. If you need to withdraw money from an ATM, choose one that is not isolated, be alert about your surroundings and put away your stash swiftly and discreetly.
4. Try to blend in
So don't look too much like a tourist with a flapping visitor map and an expensive camera hung around your neck. Or wear flashy jewellery and clothing. Or behave in a loud and boisterous manner at bars and nightclubs. Basically, stay under the radar and don't draw attention to yourself – because you never know who might be scoping you out as a potential target.
Also watch out for situations where you might be easily distracted, such as when a stranger approaches you randomly on the street. Usually con artists work in pairs and groups – while one distracts you with conversation or peddles unwanted items, the other makes off with your wallet or smartphone in your pocket.
5. Avoid unfamiliar or isolated areas
If it's some place way off the radar and your hotel concierge hasn't even heard of it, there's a strong likelihood that you probably shouldn't go there alone. Sure, travel is more fun when you go off the beaten path but be smart even as you're seeking adventure.
Take someone local, book your taxis or chauffeured car in advance from a reputable place (and make them wait for the return trip) and let someone from the hotel know where you've gone. Having a working smartphone with data plan is always a good idea so that you can access maps and call someone if you're lost. Just try not to get the phone stolen.
Did we make the thought of going away a lot scarier for you? Well, a healthy amount of fear can keep you alive and with your possessions intact. Having said that, there's no reason to be overly afraid – just get all the bases covered.