5 Travel Tips to Avoid Being Robbed Abroad

One of the worst nightmares of a seasoned world traveler is the fear of having his valuables stolen during their travels. Can you imagine being stranded without any cash, no credit cards and not even your passport in a foreign country? 

In my years of travel, I have come up with these 5 tips to help you avoid being robbed during your travels. Are you ready to fool all of those thieves that want to rain in your parade? 

I really hope this article will help you to take better care of your valuables during your journeys but first, let’s talk a little bit more about our dear sponsor of wonders (click here to become one) for this new article on the blog:

Numinous Packs, a brand of backpacks labelled as being anti-theft.

Numinous Packs, the Anti-Theft Backpack

Numinous Packs, the Anti-Theft Backpack

Numinous Packs, the Anti-Theft Backpacks? 

During my nomadic life, I have stayed at many hostels with equipment valued at over 2000 USD and one of the biggest fears is coming back to my dorm room only to find out that my bags are no longer there. 

After all, hostel lockers can be easily breached with the right tools and I have heard many horror stories about fellow hostel guests robbing the entire dorm before checking out to never be seen again. 

The people behind the Numinous Packs know about these situations and that’s why they designed a backpack that is basically, theft-proof.

It has an anti-slash technology that prevents thieves from breaching it and it also has a cord that you can wrap around static objects in order to prevent thieves from running away with your backpack. You can read the entire list of features here.

One of the 431 bridges of Venice

The Numinous Packs are ideal in  pickpocket hotspots like Venice!

The Numinous Packs come in many different sizes ranging from 25 to 85 Liters and the bigger models also have wheels in order for you to use the backpack as a suitcase too. 

The design is very ergonomic and practical which allows you to organise all of your belongings inside in a very tidy manner while also providing you with comfort during your travels. 

Plus, for every backpack you buy, you’re helping African children to have a better life which is a very big competitive advantage that Numinous Packs has over similar competitors in the market (read more about the African Children’s Fund here).

Pretty cool, uh? Thanks to Numinous Packs for being part of the Journey and now, let’s continue to my top 5 travel safety tips to avoid being robbed during your travels. 

No pickpocket can steal the Numinous Pack

No pickpocket can steal the Numinous Pack

How to avoid being robbed during your travels #01: Don’t flash your wealth

This one is obvious but the more I travel, the more I see that people normally leave common sense at home. All countries in the world have their fair share of thieves, however, some countries have a huge gap of wealth inequality which brings resentment amongst the population towards foreigners and locals that flash their wealth in the streets.

When you travel, it is important for you to have consideration for the locals and for the fact that sometimes your fancy camera is worth more than what they can hope to make for an entire year living on minimum wage. 

My recommendation of wonders? Put a little bit of dirt on your electronic equipment so it doesn’t looks new nor desirable (after all, thieves aim to re-sell it in the black market). If possible, remove the labels in your camera so thieves don’t know it’s an expensive brand. 

The traditional gondolas of Venice, Italy

The traditional gondolas of Venice, Italy

How to avoid being robbed during your travels #02: Don’t lower your guard

When traveling, we tend to be more relaxed than at home but that’s not an excuse for lowering your guard. Pickpockets are a serious threat in all European capitals and they will take advantage of distractions such as museum exhibits, street performances and others in order to rob you blind.  

Other than pickpockets, you need also to be aware of purse snatchers who will violently run away with your purse in broad daylight if you lower your guard. This is mostly common in cities such as Barcelona but it can happen basically anywhere. 

My recommendation of wonders? Always keep your hands in your pockets when traveling in crowded areas and don’t lower your guard under any circumstances. That friendly stranger might as well be a scam artist so trust your gut and take it from there.

Shared gondola ride at Venice, Italy

Shared gondola ride at Venice, Italy

How to avoid being robbed during your travels #03: Don’t use the hostel lockers for valuables

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you probably remember the case of a stolen painting where the detective spent days searching for it in secret places without realizing that the thief hid the painting in the least protected place possible: his own living room behind a replica of the same painting. 

Hostel lockers are the first place that thieves will target when searching for valuables since it’s common sense that travelers will store their valuables there. After all, you’re basically telling the entire world that there’s something important in the locker and that’s just not smart at all.

My recommendation of wonders? Hide your valuables in plain sight (inside your carry-on luggage or backpack) since it’s the last place thieves would check. I mean, what type of thief doesn’t go directly for the lockers? 

The off the beaten path city of Trieste

The off the beaten path city of Trieste

How to avoid being robbed during your travels #04: Don’t put your cash and cards in the same place

This one is also obvious but it surprises me to see the number of travelers that put their cards, passport AND cash in the same place. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is not smart at all since that leaves you extremely vulnerable in case of theft. 

Each time I went back to my hostel in Prague, I saw at least two tourists crying because they were stranded after a thieve stole all of their money and now they were in panic mode since they didn’t know what to do (see number #05).

My recommendation of wonders? Leave your passport and a small amount of cash at the hotel/hostel while taking your cards and the rest of the cash with you (on separate pockets!). This way, one single robbery will not be the end of the world for you and you will always have some money left for the rest of your journey.  

Travelers and tourists

You can also put some spare money in your Venetian mask

How to avoid being robbed during your travels #05: Don’t travel without a backup plan

Finally, let’s assume that the worst scenario happened and someone robbed you during your travels. Do you have a backup plan? Does your travel insurance covers theft of valuables? Do you have scanned copies of your travel documents? 

Not many of us are mentally prepared for dealing with the consequences of being robbed during our travels and it is quite easy to have a panic attack once the worst happens and you are left wondering what to do now. 

My recommendation of wonders? Scan all of your travel documents and store them in the cloud (or just e-mail them to yourself). Leave a second debit card with your family back home with your PIN code so they can withdraw your own money and send you an emergency transfer via Western Union or similar.

Venice during low season

Venice during low season

The most important thing? Don’t panic. Just don’t. Things happen for a reason and that robbery might just have been a blessing in disguise in order for you to experience the kindness of the locals who will do their best to help you get back on your feet. 

Just relax and accept that there are things that can be solved and many more that can’t and it’s up to you to move forwards or not.

The deluxe dining car of the Golden Pass Classic

The deluxe dining car of the Golden Pass Classic

Have you ever been robbed abroad? What are some of your best tips to avoid being robbed during your travels? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think! 

Until next time, my friends!!!

Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with Numinous Packs. All opinions are my own.

5 Travel Tips to Avoid Being Robbed

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29 Responses

  1. Mary Calculated Traveller

    Great tips Raphael!

    Re: Tip #1. I’ve also read to stick tape on your camera to make it look like you’ve made your own repairs (of course I would choose the tape carefully to make sure it doesn’t damage the finish of your equipment).

  2. Miriam of Adventurous Miriam

    Luckily, I’ve never been robbed, but my husband had his wallet stolen once – so annoying. I’ve thought of removing the labels on my camera like you suggest, especially when I’ve traveled to more remote or dangerous areas. But being aware of your surroundings and not flash them around is probably the best approach.

  3. Beverly Burmeier

    Good tips, especially about not letting down your guard and having a back up plan so panic doesn’t take over.

  4. Karilyn

    after living in india for almost a decade and travelling the country far and wide i became very good at figuring out how to travel with cash and cards! Like you said, i never had them together. I also never carried a real wallet. I always bought a local little coin purse which is where i would keep my ‘days’ money. other money i would keep in different places on my body and bags. this helped so often. people will try to reach in your purse or bag looking for the big wallet. when they can’t find it quickly they usually give up. if they do get your coin purse, they got only a small amount anyway!

  5. Anne Klien ( MeAnne)

    Cool tips here. Thanks for sharing. Always vigilant what’s going on around you.

  6. Natalie - From Tourist 2 Local

    I think articles like these are really good for travelers to read. People just need to be aware that the country they are visiting may not be as safe as it is where they came from. I lived in Barcelona for a year, and one thing you realize is that it’s some peoples job to steal, and they are really good at it. I found that, the more you blend in with the crowd, the less of a target you’ll be for these types of people.

  7. Brianna

    All great tips but the number one safety rule anywhere is to be aware of your surroundings.

  8. Wandering Carol

    I am not more relaxed when I travel, I’m now hyper vigilant – this is because over the years I’ve had my purse snatched out of my hand by 2 guys on a motorcycle in Korea, my purse stolen from right in front of me at a pub near Victoria Station in London and my backpack stolen in Banff, Canada, after I (duh) left it unattended and unsecured. So, when a pickpocket had his hand in my purse in Piccadilly Circus in London, I caught him! And proceeded to shout and shame, hoping a policeman would happen by, but none did. It can happen anywhere, folks!

  9. Tim Kroeger

    Great tips! I think it is most important to don’t put all cash and credit cards in the same place. I always put some extra cash in my big backpack, some cash in my small backpack that I use for day trips and also put my two credit cards in different places.

  10. Elena

    Great tips! I have never been robbed but I have been with others that have been pick-pocketed in Italy….I think the key is to be vigilant and be mindful about your surroundings.

  11. Vicky and Buddy

    Great tips! Another one I would suggest would be to have a decoy wallet. That way, if you are robbed or pickpocketed they end up with the fake one.

  12. Dave from Daves Travel Pages

    Some great tips there… especially about not flashing expensive gear around, or leaving it carelessly unattended. On a personal level, looking confident and aware will also act as a deterrent.

  13. Lis

    I had my entire luggage stolen out of a friend’s car (it was in the boot/trunk) in Madrid 15 years ago. We parked out front of a hotel area and went to get breakfast before my flight back to Australia. We didn’t realise what had happened until we got to the airport. I still don’t know what happened, really… We went back to where we were parked and my Spanish-speaking friend spoke to some people there who said that gangs go around with sets of keys (???) trying all the cars in a street, and then your stuff turns up for sale at the weekend markets. I found the whole thing bizarre, especially how the doorman at the hotel saw nothing.

    While in Athens I was warned of gangs that clear out the luggage from underneath the tour bus while the passengers are still stuck inside. Although this stuff can happen anywhere, obviously some places are worse than others. Be vigilant. Hearing others’ stories is good for that. Before it happened to me I just never thought of such things happening. I was 19 though…

      • Lis

        It was! My brand new SLR camera, my passport, everything. I was completely clueless. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was pretty traumatic – first time overseas and all that.. I always wondered what happened to my underwear. Like I wonder if they put it for sale at the market too.. All I had left was the clothes I was wearing and the pair of boots I bought that morning before the flight!

        BTW, I’m a waaay savvier traveller these days :D

  14. Victoria@ The British Berliner

    Really good points Raphael. I’ve never had my stuff stolen but money. We went to Tunisia years ago. We rented a car and decided to do an independent day trip out to the Sahara desert that took so long that we had to book into a local hotel. The whole situation was dodgy from the start…
    Firstly, they carted my German husband off to “look for beer” and I was left alone in the room for a few hours. I was so scared ‘cos I didn’t know where he was… Then when we eventually went off for dinner locally, our room had been ransacked and some of our money stolen. I had hidden and spread our documents and money about. They stole the money from my husbands’ wallet which we had left in the “secure” room. Thankfully, they hadn’t stolen the other half of our money as it was in plain view. Among my underwear. I hid our passports in my socks!

    They got in through the roof!

  15. Robert

    5 great points Raphael! It’s taking the few steps to help prevent theft that really pay off in the long run. The anti theft backpack is a great feature and worth checking into further. I always mix my valuables just in case, better to lose something instead of everything! Safe travels, Rob