Having things stolen while you're travelling must be the ultimate downer.
When I was checking into a hostel in Prague yesterday there was this girl at reception talking to a Czech Republic police officer because she had had all her stuff taken from her room. She was staying in a mixed dorm room with people she didn't know, made the mistake of not locking up her gear, went out for the day and came back to find that her suitcase had been taken.
That sucks. Who else has been ripped off like that?
This girl impressed me for two reasons. One, she was not in tears. I know it wouldn't help, but if that had been me I would have been on the floor crying me a big old river, and wailing over the phone to people at home. Two, though she was gutted, she was willing to embrace the positive - the reception had been holding her passport for her, so she had that and her wallet.
I was talking to our Busabout tour guide later, and he said it happened all the time, particularly in hostels, and that's why he made such a point of telling people to lock up their stuff. People could just walk in off the street, blend in, and wait for an opportunity to walk into an open room. Another friend told us about having their wallet stolen from a common area at the same hostel, so it's something people need to be aware of.
I am probably too relaxed when it comes to security. I tend to assume that if my stuff is in a locked room, it is safe.
So far, so good, nothing stolen. However, I am travelling with Nathan, who has a small case of paranoia about our room being broken into. It's usually a safe bet that he will have hidden or disguised anything valuable, that our bags will have the padlocks on them, and that the passports will be in the room's safe. I have continually mocked him for the over-the-top cautiousness, but since seeing that girl talking to the scary-looking cop, I've vowed to turn over a new leaf.
When I left for breakfast this morning, the only things not locked away were my toothbrush, and my jandals (and they're actually getting pretty nasty - wouldn't be so bad if someone swiped them).
I am now embracing Nathan's mildly obsessive, better safe than sorry approach to travel.
Mildly obsessive, better safe than sorry rules:
- Padlocks on your bags that can also double as a padlock for hostel lockers in dorm rooms. I've always thought padlocks were more hassle than they were worth, but the whole combination lock thing reduces that. And hey, if you don't like the lock, you can go and add it to a bridge in Paris!
- Make copies of documents. Something that everyone says to do, but we didn't. Nathan's aunty in Colorado persuaded us in the end, and actually it is reassuring to have a backup copy of your passport for a worst case scenario.
- Split your money cards up. We carried our credit cards in one wallet for the first couple of months of our trip, then had that moment-of-fear day when we thought the wallet had been stolen. Since then one card is always left in our main bags.
- Don't hang bags over the back of your chair in cafes. It's apparently a convenient spot for sneaky snatchers to grab your things; I've had a couple of friends lose goodies as a result.
- Keep passports in hotel room safes. I think this is over-the-top, and, as we learned a couple of months ago, a good way to forget your passport - but, embracing safety, it can have the final place on the list.
Not a complete list, but it's a start. What else should people do to hold on to their belongings?
Finally, please vote for All These Places in the Netguide Web Awards by clicking the vote now button below, and adding my blog's web address in the Best Blog field, near the bottom of the voting page.
Post a comment