This blog post was updated on October 11, 2018.
I was walking along the Charles Bridge in Prague and something wasn’t right. I had read about the pickpocket schemes specifically on this tourist attraction. Everything that I read described the pickpocket operations on the bridge to be mostly burly looking men wandering around alone. Instead of enjoying my stroll across this Prague landmark, I became intent on spotting the pickpockets. From end to end, I counted several handfuls of these characters, those that just didn’t fit into the scene of tourists. I knew someone had probably just lost their wallet to a pickpocket scheme because they weren’t paying attention.
Being robbed while traveling has a way of leaving a rather sour taste in one’s mouth. It can ruin how you feel about the destination and even make you wish that you were home. If you don’t want pickpockets picking your pockets on vacation, you can practice a few easy tips to keep those pockets full.
Read up on pickpocket scams at your destinations before you go: I learned from my experience in Prague that research certainly paid off in terms of avoiding pickpockets. Many pickpocket scams are well known throughout the travel industry. Guidebooks cover how they can vary from place to place. It is also a good idea to read up on the certain spots at your destination that tend to have more pickpockets than others. By doing your research, you will be more aware of just what scams you need to watch out for before it’s too late.
Don’t flash your cellphone: A popular pickpocket scam taking place around the globe is the cell phone grab. Some pickpockets aren’t interested in your pockets but rather that cellphone in your hand. While you might be glued to your cellphone, as you tour, it might be best to keep your phone out of sight. If you must have it in your hand, try to disguise it and not flash it about.
Always be on guard in crowded spaces: From crowded buses to buzzing tourist attractions, pickpockets love to linger in these spaces. It is much easier to fall victim to a pickpocket in crowded areas. A simple bump into your body could be someone grabbing your wallet. Especially in these jam-packed zones, you need to be as aware as possible of your surroundings and the characters surrounding you. If you are planning on covering a number of touristy attractions at your destination, you might want to buy a money belt or ensure you carry a no slash purse. By taking these precautious, you won’t have to worry as much in crowded spaces.
Don’t carry a lot of valuables when you tour: One hotel amenity that often gets overlooked is booking a room with a safe. However, if you want to avoid the whole pickpocket trauma, you should merely not carry a lot of cash or credit cards on you at all times. If you can keep your passport, any important documents and most of your trip funds in a locked box, it is less likely to be a problem if you are pickpocketed. Losing some change isn’t as detrimental as losing a passport or several credit cards. If your hotel doesn’t have a safe, place your valuables inside your suitcase with a lock on it.
Have you experienced pickpockets on your travels? How do you deal with these pesky tourist magnets?
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