Man pickpocketing woman

Nothing rudely interrupts a trip quite like getting your stuff stolen. It brings everything to a screeching halt and it’s a lot more common than you may think. According to one study by Statista, 10% of people get their phone taken and 9% have experienced having their credit card stolen while traveling. Imagine yourself enjoying the dreamy vacation you spent upwards of a year planning for yourself, all for it to be ruined in a moment when a criminal runs off with your purse. Nobody wants that.

Wolter’s World suggests that there are numerous reasons why tourists get robbed so often and you may be surprised to find out that many of them are well within the tourist’s control. Luckily, there are a few proven measures that travelers can take to help themselves avoid theft while traveling. If you want to be 100% sure that you’ll walk away from your next trip unscathed by robbery, read on through these 12 simple tips.

Use a bra or belt stash to carry emergency cash

Cash stash belt with passport

In the event that your belongings do get hijacked when you’re traveling, you’ll want to be prepared. The first way to prepare yourself for anything is to wear a secret stash bra or belt to carry some extra cash with you. In the heat of the moment, the robber isn’t going to stop and say, "Also, let me get all the money in your stash belt, too." It’s bad enough to become a victim of theft, but think about how bad it would be if you were in a foreign city without any money to your name. That’s a total disaster!

There are tons of different wearable stash accessories to choose from that can appeal to a range of tastes, and even better, it’s one of the more affordable travel accessories. Road Affair recommends the brands Alpha Keeper, FlipBelt, and Raytix. Plus, according to Rick Steves, you can also use these concealed belts to carry your important travel documents or tickets in a safe place. It’s a multi-useful travel tool that can really save you in a pinch.

Carry anti-theft accessories

Bag with luggage lock

You might be surprised how many products there are out there that can help you avoid theft while traveling. It’s a whole segment of the travel products world. Anti-theft accessories come in a range of shapes and sizes. Carryology says that every responsible traveler should be carrying TSA-friendly padlocks when they’re on a trip. Even though they’re not the end-all-be-all of solutions, this is a small investment that can really deter potential threats from choosing you as a robbery target. They also suggest grabbing an RFID document organizer to protect yourself from any identity thieves out in the wild.

Alternatively, travelers with a little more dough to spend on safety before a trip might want to consider purchasing an anti-theft bag. The Professional Hobo explains that there are a few key differences between these specialized bags and your standard run-of-the-mill backpack, like slash-resistant fabric and secret lockable compartments.

Don’t wear flashy jewelry

Woman wearing diamond necklace

There is a way to travel with all eyes on you and a way to do it while staying under the radar. The latter is almost always preferable for travelers who want to avoid making themselves a target of theft. When you wear very expensive or flashy jewelry while you’re exploring a new place, it puts a sign pointing directly to you saying, "Hey everybody! I have stuff to steal!" Consumer Mojo even recommends leaving your most prized pieces of jewelry at home to eliminate the risk of losing them entirely, especially when you’re traveling internationally and might not be familiar with the local customs or safety precautions. For example, in Colombia, it’s believed that wearing flashy items makes you stand out as a tourist for potential thieves (Via ViaHero).

It’s understandable to want to look your best and have all your favorite things when you’re traveling. However, travelers should always consider the possibility of how gutted they would be if they lost their favorite necklace or ring. If the answer is that you can hardly bear the thought of it, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by not wearing it out on vacation.

Be mindful about where you are and what’s going on at all times

Crowds in a city

One of the #1 easiest ways for a tourist to end up becoming a victim of theft is by not paying attention to their surroundings (per Wolter’s World). This piece of advice might seem a bit controversial. After all, as a tourist in a new and exciting place, it seems impossible to constantly be vigilant and have fun at the same time. It’s definitely a balancing act, but it’s one that every traveler needs to master to eliminate their chance of having their things stolen while traveling.

When you’re in a busy area or near a major tourist attraction, crowds are guaranteed, which means there are more chances to get robbed. Bos Security recommends limiting your distractions when you’re in these types of situations, so you can use your extra energy to pay attention to the people around you. Stopping to snap photos, listening to music with headphones, or texting on your phone takes you out of the moment and makes sketchy people take notice of you. Who better to steal from than the distracted tourist? If you absolutely have to use your phone or capture a moment, make sure you take stock of what’s going on around you beforehand. Just a little extra care can make the difference between being a savvy traveler versus an irresponsible one.

Invest in a good anti-theft bag

Blue anti-theft backpack

Protecting yourself from theft while traveling can be a bit of an investment, but its definitely worth the peace of mind. Especially if you’re a digital nomad or traveling with expensive electronics. Most people use a regular backpack to carry around this stuff on day trips or while exploring a new city. However, traditional backpacks are super easy for pickpockets and digitals thieves to steal from. That’s why experienced travelers always carry a high-quality anti-theft bag. These types of special bags come with features like anti-slash fabric, extra locks, secret pockets, and RFID-blocking protection (Via Dream Big Travel Far). All this stuff works together to deter potential thieves from even bothering to try and steal your stuff.

There are quite a few options for anti-theft bags and more are released all the time. StyleCraze recommends the sleek and unassuming ZUK anti-theft sling backpack as the best overall option for 2022. This is a great starter anti-theft bag for new travelers because it’s extremely affordable. It’s even cheaper than your basic, run-of-the-mill backpack that leaves out these handy safety features.

Leave your most important stuff at the hotel or home

Man using hotel lock box

Even though you probably want to have your fanciest accessories and carry all you high-tech electronics when you’re out exploring a new place, this can put you in a very precarious position. If you lose these things or get them stolen while you’re traveling, they’re more than likely gone forever. Losing something like your phone, wallet, or travel documents is more than just a headache. It can leave you completely stuck in a place you don’t know. Luckily, this problem is pretty simple to avoid because all you have to do is leave your valuables behind at your hotel.

Instead of using your hotel’s provided lockbox, however, you can make your own with one simple luggage lock (Via Clean Tech Loops). Contrary to popular belief, trusting your most important belongings in a hotel safe isn’t always recommended. Staff members already know that most visitors leave their valuables in the lockbox, so it’s the first place they’re going to look if they want to steal something. Alternatively, you can turn your own luggage into a covert lockbox with luggage locks. Just put everything valuable inside and tuck the locked bag away out of direct sight in your hotel room. Thieves are way less likely to go pocking around in your personal luggage, especially if it’s all locked up.

Use Apple AirTags to track your belongings

Apple AirTag in a wallet

We’re living in the modern age when Apple AirTags are the ultimate way to protect your wallet, bag, or anything else when you’re traveling. It takes all the guesswork out of things because you will always know exactly where your belongings are. These tiny little tracking devices are lightweight, unnoticeable, and have incredibly long-lasting battery life. They’re only about the size of a quarter, making them easy to use with almost anything (Via SafeWife). Plus, it currently costs $99 for four AirTags, so they’re even affordable for travelers on a budget.

According to Apple, your AirTag emits a Bluetooth signal that’s detected by devices in your network. The location of your AirTag is constantly sent up to the Cloud and you can go right on the ‘Find My’ app to see clearly where it is on a map. It’s a game changer for travelers who want to avoid theft in a new place. If they ever do have their stuff stolen, it’s simple to provide local authorities with the exact location of the item. It gives you a fighting chance of ever finding it again.

Turn on the Find My iPhone app

Find My iPhone app

Technology can be your best friend when it comes to keeping yourself safe when traveling. Just think about how useful the Find My iPhone app can be if you ever get your electronics stolen. Turning on this useful feature should be second nature when you’re traveling to a new place. It’s kind of like travel insurance, you just need it every time. It’s not just for your cell phone, either. The Find My feature can be used to locate your iPad, iPod, Macbook, Apple Watch, AirPods, or any Beats product (Via Apple).

You can also use the Find My app to locate your family member’s devices, so you can keep tabs on your child or sibling if they’re traveling without you. All you have to do to turn on this feature is open the settings app on your device, click your name at the top of the page, and tap the ‘Find My’ folder. From there, you’ll be able to turn on Find My iPhone, share your location, and see your friend’s information. Once you have the feature turned on, locating your device is as easy as going to icloud.com/find. Talk about a big upside to the technological revolution.

Bring a decoy wallet

Red and blue wallets

If thieves looking to take advantage of tourists want to be sneaky, you can be just as clever! All you have to do is carry a decoy wallet while you’re out getting to know a new city or country. It’s just like a regular wallet except you don’t keep any IDs, credit cards, or irreplaceable stuff inside (Via Off Grid Web). You can keep some spending cash in the wallet to make sure it looks legit, but nothing identifiable should go in there. That way, if you get stopped by a criminal who tells you to give them everything you’ve got, you can simply hand over the decoy.

The truth is if you are approached by a burglar, it’s recommended to just comply with their demands to avoid getting hurt. Having a decoy wallet to hand over in the event of a robbery can be life-saving. In the heat of the moment, most thieves won’t stop to check and make sure you’re being honest with them, so you’ll have plenty of time to get away with all of your real belongings. This one small hack can totally save you if someone does decide to rob you while you’re traveling.

Research the local scams

Man squirting mustard

Every new place that you visit comes with its own set of common schemes and scams that criminals use to pull one over on unsuspecting tourists. Once they find a tactic that works, they will use it over and over again to con visitors. However, you can protect yourself from these tricky maneuvers by doing a little research into the local scams in your vacation destination. Some of these schemes are specific to the destination. For example, in Mexico, one of the most popular ways to rob someone is by using the messy Mustard scam (Via Travel Lemming). One assailant will squirt a gross liquid, like mustard, all over the tourist and another will come in with napkins offering to help clean it up. While you’re distracted and trying to get the substance off your clothes, the thief will nab your wallet, phone, or anything else they can grab right out of your pocket. It’s basic but effective.

Some scams are so successful that they’re used by criminals all over the world. Tourists everywhere should be wary of being overcharged by taxis, having their card information jacked at ATMs, and be hesitant about locals who offer them free souvenirs (Via Nomadic Matt). In general, trust your gut. If you think someone is working a scam on you, there is a good chance that they are and you should get away as fast as possible.

Get travel insurance

Travel insurance documents

Out of all the tips on this list, this is the one that you should 100%, definitely follow if you want to avoid theft while traveling. Get travel insurance! Going on a vacation without travel insurance is like racing in a car down the highway without a seatbelt. It’s dangerous and potentially very costly. Lots of people assume that nothing bad can happen to them while they’re traveling, especially if they’re headed to a destination that’s generally regarded as safe. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a completely safe destination. No matter where you go, there is always a risk of something not going according to plan, like getting your wallet stolen or getting hurt on a day trip. When an accident happens, smart travelers breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they’re protected by travel insurance.

According to Forbes, travel insurance protects tourists in a number of different situations that they might encounter on a trip. Whether you need to cancel your trip because a loved one back home is sick or require compensation after an airline delays your flight, your travel insurance company has you covered. There’s no such thing as encountering the unexpected when you’re backed by reliable insurance.

Never get so intoxicated that you don’t know what’s going on

Clinking beer mugs together

Whether you’re a young adult on spring break with your friends or celebrating your love on a honeymoon, most people plan to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two when they’re traveling. Having an evening cocktail is some travelers’ favorite part about taking a vacation. While everyone wants to have fun and be carefree while they’re traveling, getting too intoxicated can put you at serious risk of theft. Imagine how it feels to be groggily drunk and out partying — you’re stumbling, slurring, and bringing a bunch of attention to yourself.

For thieves around the area, seeing a tourist stumbling all over themselves screams that you are unaware of your surroundings and a super easy target. When you’re in that type of state, it’s basically impossible to defend yourself, especially if you’re alone. Not to mention that lots of travel insurance companies will revoke your coverage if they find out you were under the influence when you got hurt or in trouble (Via The Cabin Chiang Mai). For all these reasons and more, travelers should avoid getting overly intoxicated on a trip.