As part of my research I talked a lot about begging and stealing. At certain points I either asked, or was simply told about the different tricks some of the people use to get things out of you.
Here are some tips to keep your valuables safe when on the road
- Always keep your valuables on inside pockets of jackets. Never keep anything in jeans, dress, shirt or jacket pockets that are on the outside.
- Don’t put anything of value into pockets on the outside that you think are secure because they have zippers. People have razorblades to cut open zippers.
- Keep your wallet, phone, camera on the bottom of the middle pocket of your bag. Don’t keep them in those small pockets designed to keep those things safe.
- When you are talking to someone you don’t know, don’ look them in the eyes all the time. Make sure you keep an eye out for their hands.
- Keep away from groups of people who want to help you or talk to you. If you are talking to one of them, the others might seize the opportunity
Obviously, these are just tips that came up when talking to people who have made a living out of stealing. You always need to be your own judge of different situations. Just keep in mind that it is often only opportunity that makes a thief. As long as you are on a look-out for your valuables at all times, and look like you are somewhere with a purpose, you should be fine.
Besides the obvious passport, visa, hard currency, camera, and curiosity and patience…
- A large shawl
I don’t care if you’re a guy or a gal, you need one of these! My large pashmina a Pakistani friend gave me has saved me on several occasions. The weather can turn without much announcement in many parts of the world. This large shawl can keep you from getting completely soaked, keep your ears and neck warm or even work instead of a jacket sometimes. On top of this, it can double up as a blanket on bus or airplane trips or as a towel if need be. You can turn it into a picnic blanket and a head/shoulder covering when entering churches, mosques or other religious places.
- An unlocked phone
This might seem obvious, but make sure you have an unlocked phone on hand when you go to travel. Save all the important numbers on the phone, not the sim card and make sure you have numbers of hostels/couch surfers, embassies and whatnot saved. This phone can be as shabby as anything, as long as it can call and sms you’ll be fine. Getting local sim cards is cheap and easy.
Most of the world is starting to have wifi-hotspots, so I would also recommend taking your smartphone with you so you can keep in contact with your loved ones at home via whatsapp, skype and your blog.
- Flip flops
Make sure you travel light and bring as little clothing as possible, but don’t forget these babies. In the summer heat of some places these can keep your feet nice and airy and are a good alternative to your sneakers or hiking boots every now and again. They will also save you from attempting to get rid of fungus on your feet that you might catch from showers in hostels. They are also a comfortable alternative to walking barefoot into springs, fountains, lakes or rivers.
Personally, I always take a diary with me when I travel. Bus journeys are always a good time to reflect on thoughts, feelings and experiences that have occurred in the last couple of hours or days. I have so many pages filled with messy, squiggly writing and sketches. Even if I don’t look back into the journals regularly writing things down by hand is my way of working through things. I get my thoughts and feelings in order like that. It’s very different to writing on the computer…which I do a lot for this blog now too.