Does your jewellery put your safety at risk when travelling? And what about that expensive equipment you carry around? Are you an easy target for scammers, muggers and thieves? How can you improve your safety when travelling?
Read on if you want to avoid making yourself a target while travelling; if you want to avoid theft, kidnapping and physical harm when travelling in foreign countries.
There is a plethora of blog posts out there about safety when travelling; about the precautions you should be taking to protect yourself and your belongings. For example:
- don’t walk around on your own at night;
- hide your money;
- put a wedge under your hotel door;
- never leave your drink unattended;
- research common scams in your destination;
- avoid public demonstrations;
- use a luggage cable to secure your bags on buses and trains;
- only use ATMs inside banks or buildings and only during the daytime;
- carry your backpack or purse on your front;
- research what is appropriate to wear.
And so the list goes on.
Much of this you would think is common sense. Having said that, I would never have thought to not only lock my hotel room door but to put a wedge under the door as well. It is easy to forget that hotel staff have a Master Key.
What I haven’t seen in blog posts on safety tips when travelling (and that doesn’t mean it’s not out there), is specific mention of jewellery and expensive equipment, such as cameras, tablets, mobile phones. How these might put your personal safety at risk and what you might do about this.
Do you wear jewellery when travelling?
Is it that gold chain that you never take off? Is it those diamond earrings you got from a loved one and don’t want to leave behind? Is it that watch you have to wear because you feel naked without it (that’s me)? Have you ever thought about the impact of that jewellery on your safety when travelling?
When travelling to many countries, particularly developing countries, the mere fact that you are in their country makes you a rich person. They don’t see the budget you’re travelling on, and they wouldn’t believe you anyway. You can afford to travel and that is all they know or understand. Your limited budget could well be their income for the year (or more).
The jewellery you wear can make you a target. Your jewellery can put your physical safety at risk when thieves try to take it; to rip that necklace off from around your neck. You can be vulnerable to muggings – to see what other valuables you may be carrying. Your jewellery may also place you in danger of kidnapping because you are seen to be rich and, therefore, a loved one will pay a lot of money for your release. This latter is extreme, I know, but should not be dismissed. It makes no difference whether it be valuable jewellery or costume jewellery. Especially as it is often hard to tell the difference between precious gems and glass in jewellery. I would not be able to tell the difference.
Don’t tempt fate!
I love jewellery and get a lot of enjoyment out of wearing it. I always buy pieces (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches) from wherever I travel. My family and friends would tell you I have heaps. Well, more than heaps.
I would like to say I wear no jewellery when I travel. But I can’t. Remember, I’m the person above who has to wear a watch because I feel naked without it. I also have pierced ears. Because I travel for weeks at a time, I don’t want the holes to close over. So, I do wear earrings. I wear small silver sleepers (not gold as that yells, “expensive”) and don’t take any other earrings with me. The watch and the sleepers are the limit of my jewellery while travelling.
On the flip side … I am not married, so don’t wear a wedding ring. However, to minimise being harassed as a female traveller and to add to my sense of security, I wear a wedding band when I travel in the middle east.
And what about that camera you lug around?
Your camera not only labels you as a tourist (a risk in itself) but potentially puts you at risk of being mugged to relieve you of that camera.
I do use one of those expensive DSLR cameras because I love my photography. I use my photographs on my travel blog and would, one day, love to sell my photos. However, I take what precautions I can to remove the ‘rich person’ target on my back and its possible consequences, and to prevent it being stolen:
- I keep the camera out of sight in my backpack when I am not shooting. If your camera is small enough, keep it in your pocket.
- I do not walk around with my camera slung around my neck or over my shoulder.
- When I do have my camera out to take photos, I wear the strap around my neck or twisted around my wrist. I don’t carry the camera on my shoulder as it would be too easy for someone to remove.
- My camera strap is non-descript in that it does not have the camera brand name blazoned all over it.
Do you use a mobile phone or tablet to take photos?
On my last visit to Vietnam, the tour guide advised us to stand well back from the road when taking photos with a mobile phone. We were informed that motor cyclists drive past tourists and grab their mobile phones.
I’m sure Vietnam is not the only country where this occurs. Besides, it’s good advice wherever you travel. In fact, to improve your safety when travelling, it is best not to use your mobile phone while walking around. If you need to make a phone call or check a map on your phone, sit in a café to do so. Thieves are pretty cluey as to the worth of mobile phones and you don’t want to risk your safety.
In parting, I offer some further advice provided by my Vietnamese guide:
- There are fake taxis whose metres spin faster the the guide could spin his arm in a circle. He described which to catch and which are fake.
- Don’t stop when crossing the road. A slow and steady pace is required so traffic can avoid you.
- It’s safe to walk around at night but don’t display valuables.
- Remove diamond rings.
- Men should carry their wallet in the side pocket of their pants rather than the back pocket to deter pick pockets.
Taking steps to improve your safety when travelling can only enhance your travel experience. Hopefully, the vulnerabilities and tips I have identified in this post will go a long way towards that happy ending.
Keep safe. Take care. Happy travels.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.