As any good traveler knows, pickpockets can be a something to think about avoiding when traveling. So how do you keep your purse or wallet safe? Follow these short guidelines and you will significantly reduce your chances of being ripped-off.

1) Remain alert and aware

This may seem simple, but remember you are walking around somewhere new, you may be staring straight up in the sky admiring the architecture of a building, or fumbling with your map and not paying attention to the kid behind you with his hand in your half open purse. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy what you are there to see, just keep an eye out from time to time as to who is near you and look at your map in a more strategic place.

2) Use a money belt or something else difficult to get into

I have traveled with a money belts, backpacks, and thick canvas shoulder bag with heavy duty zipper holding my money and other important documents. All of these work great for making it too difficult to get to your belongings. Money belts are sometimes hard to get into without showing some skin or other embarrassing things. You can opt for one that goes around your neck instead of around your waist. Backpacks have many pockets and some of them are facing backward and easy for pickpockets to get into. If you use a backpack make sure your belongings are not easily accessible or even better use a hidden compartment. For example, I have a pocket in mine that is against my back, that works great.

3) Plan ahead

If you know where you are going and what you want to do, you are much less likely to get stuck pulling out your map and being lost in getting directions. It’s easier to pay attention to whose around you as you enjoy the area. This doesn’t mean you have to have every moment planned or you can’t change your plans and be spontaneous, it just means be aware of where you get your map out and don’t look lost. A tourist with a destination is a harder target.

4) Leave valuables at home or hotel

You don’t need to have every document with you every step of the way. Often times simply carrying a photocopy of some things will be plenty of documentation. Also, you don’t need all your money or your favorite expensive watch. If it’s not on you to be taken, they can’t take it.

5) Watch for signs

So you are alert, you have a money belt, you planned ahead and left unnecessary items at home, now what do you look for to help you avoid a possible pickpocket? Many times pickpockets work in groups. Two or three people will cause some sort of ruckus while another one or two will walk behind people slyly taking things, and you won’t even notice. For example, someone could get “stuck” on the steps getting on or off a bus or train, holding up the line of people so they can grab your things. If this happens, be aware of who is around you and hold on to your belongings closely.

6) Did I mention remain alert and aware

Again, one of the best ways to help you avoid having a pickpocket find their way into your life, is to be aware of who is around you and what’s going on.

Although pickpocketing can happen to innocent, and often naive tourists, it is not a given it will happen to you. Just be careful, remain aware and follow these simple steps you can help save yourself the agony of being pick-pocketed.

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