Posted by: StonehengeNews | March 24, 2012

Keep your backpack safe when travelling

While traveling in Egypt this past December, I had a porter mistakenly pick up my bag as I was waiting at a security checkpoint. My heart sank when I cleared the metal detector and realized that it was gone. This was just before coming home for Christmas and inside were both my journal and camera. For 2 agonizing hours I mourned the loss as my ferry crossed over to Sharm el Sheikh. As I was leaving the boat, I was lucky enough to have the bag returned by an honest German divemaster. The close call opened my eyes to what it would feel like to suffer such a loss, and now I travel with a little more caution than before.

In general you can travel anywhere and avoid being robbed. A little common sense goes a long way. However, thousands of budget travelers ARE robbed every year while on the road. Unfortunately we do draw a lot of attention to ourselves, and by some local standards we are considered “rich”. It does not just happen in developing countries, professional thieves reside all over the world.

Fortunately, the trick for not letting it happen to you is simple – don’t present an easy target. Unless you happen to come across a thief that just wants a challenge, more than likely they will pass and move on to an easier victim. Here are some easy tips for not becoming one of the unlucky ones:
1) When riding a bus, try to sit on the same side as your bag that is stored underneath in the cargo hold. If you are awake, watch out the window at stops which are not yours to make sure no one takes it as they exit.

2) While sleeping in airports, make a “leash” out of parachute cord or clothesline. Connect your wrist to the bag while it is under your seat or sitting beside you in case you fall asleep.

3) Consider your country’s relations with the country you are traveling before sewing your flag patch on the outside of your bag. When a thief has to choose between dozens of bags, it may make you stand out.

4) Carry a small bicycle combination chain lock in the top of your bag. Attach it to support bars when it is stored on an overnight train, or to the bed frame when it is in your hotel.

5) Put small combination locks on outside pockets. In a crowded area it may be impossible to feel a deft hand unzipping and reaching inside while it is on your back.

6) Consciously pack bulk things on the back side of the bag rather than valuable items. If your pack is slashed by someone with a razor while you wear it, all they will get is a handful of dirty underwear. This makes sense for not putting weight away from your body and for padding the contents inside as well.

7) Carry less! Its true, a fat rucksack is a fat target. Also, you will not be tempted to leave it behind so much if the bag is less of a burden.

8 Don’t look like a target. Leave the Rolex, Raybans, and expensive sandals behind. If you present an image of wealth, someone will be very interested in your bag.

9) Avoid carrying bags that declare what is inside. Any thief that sees “Lowepro” knows that an expensive camera probably resides inside. The same thing goes for using laptop bags as a daybag. “IBM” on the outside will probably have their mouth watering. Sew a patch over the logo or put some duct tape over it to make it look less appealing.

10) Treat your travel backpack like your best mate. While you travel, it is your home. Always be aware of where it is and try to keep it close. I personally get the best night’s sleep when I have my bag under me as a pillow. If a thief can manage to get it then, he or she is welcome to everything inside!


The Backpacker Tour Company
Budget overland tours of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Europe

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