You can follow all the advice in the world about not taking valuables with you out backpacking, but the truth is there are some things you can’t avoid, such as travel documents or laptops for remote working. Keeping all your possessions safe can eb a challenge when traveling, but there are a few simple things you can do to minimise the risks.
1. Don’t have it on you
Some of the best advice I was ever given is never to take anything out with you that you’d fight someone for. It applies mostly to your day bag, and it includes anything from a lot of cash to sentimental photos. Although it shouldn’t be a constant worry, it should be acknowledged that bags snatching and pickpocketing is a real risk when going traveling, and you should leave things that are that important either at home or locked up in your accommodation. You won’t lose anything important, and you’ll also keep yourself safe.
2. Invest in an anti-theft bag cover
Before you go traveling, invest in an anti-theft backpack cover, like this Pacsafe one. Essentially made of stainless steel mesh that covers your backpack (and is lockable, so that it can’t be easily removed), these covers protect your backpack from thieves by making them impossible to cut into. Useful for times when you have to leave your bag unattended on a train or in a hostel, you could also wear the protector over your bag while you’re walking around – although it does inevitably make your bag harder to get into for you too! These covers are a little expensive but will cost you much less than getting all your belongings stolen would.
3. Pick the right accommodation
No hostel in the world is going to be Fort Knox, but you can make sure your belongings are as safe as possible by picking hostels that offer safes either in the rooms or at reception. That way, when you go out you can leave the stuff you don’t need to be locked up safely.
4. Get a money belt
There are some things that it’s important to have on you, such as extra cash or travel documents – but it’s vital you keep them safe. While that well-hidden pocket in the lining of your back might stop pickpocketers, it won’t be much help if someone takes your whole bag. Instead, invest in a money belt which can be worn discreetly under your clothes to store important items like these.
5. Take a few locks
As well as investing in a good padlock (combination over traditional – they’re harder to break into and you don’t have to keep track of the keys), it’s a good idea to take a lightweight bike lock with you so that you can lock your case or bag to the racks in public transport. This will prevent opportunist thieves from simply swiping your bag as they get off.
6. Don’t keep all your valuables in one place
Obviously, if you’re backpacking, you only have your backpack rather than several different bags – but you should still make sure your valuables aren’t all concentrated in one place. Having one pocket that contains your documents, jewelry, and your tablet is the thief’s dream. Keep them all in separate places, and when it comes to small items like jewelry you can also roll them up inside socks or shoes for an extra layer of protection.
There is a level of risk involved with traveling, and the bottom line is that you just shouldn’t take anything with you that you don’t strictly need – leave Grandma’s earrings at home, and consider using internet cafes rather than taking your laptop. However, it is inevitable that you will have some valuables with you – and if you follow the tips above, you’ll stand a fighting chance of making it home with the same possessions you set of with!