Showing posts with label dealing with pickpockets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dealing with pickpockets. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: Packing, Pickpockets, Part 2

DCVegasSeville2011 157Prior to our Greece trip I wrote about packing and pick pocket prevention. Several of you responded with comments that bear repeating:
An anonymous  reader suggested: “Instead of the plastic hangers, you might want to check out "flocked" slim hangers. Available at all kinds of stores like Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc.
What I like about them is: much thinner than plastic so they fit better in a suitcase, nothing slips off of them, and best of all the hanger top swivels so you can hang them over doors or on bi-fold closet door hinges.”

I couldn't find any prior to our trip so took the plastic hangers and clothes pins - and used them many times. But will find some prior to our next trip.

From South Korea, Nancie McKinnon who writes Budget Travelers Sandbox added:
“I throw a door stopper in my bag. If I end up somewhere where I think security is not that great, I can pop it under the door. I also carry a small foot brush. It's especially great when you are walking around in sandals, and cleaning up after a long hard day of sightseeing.”

Canadian blogger friend, Leigh at Hike Bike Travel where I first read about Clever Travel Companion security pocket tee shirts, wrote that she has worn them and predicted we would like them.

We did wear ours - several times in Greece - and called them 'the Piraeus shirts' a reference to The Scout's previous pickpocket incident on the Metro from there. The front-and-center zippered pockets comfortably held a passport, money and credit cards. The downside of the shirts was they are made of a blend of material which makes them stretchy and the sizes run small. That combination made it feel like wearing a body girdle (a hot one at that).  I would recommend ordering a size larger than you usually wear - but for peace of mind, they were fabulous!

Karen McCann, (a native Californian who moved with her husband to Seville, Spain ‘for a year’ in 2004 and still lives there) writes the blog Enjoy Living Abroad, and recently wrote a post on travel security tips that was so informative I told her I was going to direct you all to it.  Believe me it is full of good tips;  check it out by clicking on:  Enjoy Living Abroad

washington wednesdays 005And if you’ve got a tip or two for saving money, packing and/or keeping yourself and your belongings safe, please add them in the comment section below on the home page or for you subscribers send us an email:

I’ll make sure they get shared with everyone in future posts. If you missed that first post, you can click here to read it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Europe: Packing and Pickpocket Prevention

The buzz this spring is all about what travel clothes are ‘Europe appropriate’.  And since The Scout was pick-pocketed a few years ago in Greece, I thought I'd start by telling you about our new travel clothing for our upcoming trip there.

We'll be wearing the shirts pictured below on ferries, trains and buses.  Made by Clever Travel Companion, a company that claims they are ‘100 % pickpocket proof’’, we will be trying each of their two styles: Joel in the gray tee shirt and I'll be sporting the black tank top. (I am of the age that 'tank tops' and body don't quite correlate, but with a blouse or jacket it will be okay.)

They weren’t inexpensive – $29.90 each – but we got a 20% discount when we purchased them a couple weeks ago on Amazon and an additional 3% back from Ebates because we used it as the portal to our Amazon account.

The zippers, when closed, really are camouflaged  – and on the women’s version, it's right below the breast . . .a no touchy, no feelie place. Go there ~ you lose your hand! The pockets hold our passports, credit cards and money and are far more comfortable and easily accessed than those girdle type money belts.

The tee-shirts limited color selection – black, white and gray – fit right in with Europe's neutral colors. While they aren't mandated wear, we've found that wearing muted, neutral colors helps us blend into crowds. . .not announcing by our outfits, "Here we are - vulnerable tourists!"

And lets put to rest that old wive's tale about blue jeans. Yes, they were only a few years ago considered taboo, but these days are seen throughout Europe even in Paris and Milan, the fashion-hubs across The Pond. We leave ours at home because they are heavy, take up too much suitcase space and require too much time to air dry.

Joel’s wardrobe consist of light-weight pants from Ex-Officio (they make the pants legs with the zipper so they can be converted to shorts.) Speaking of zippers, they also have zippered security pockets inside the front pockets.

And I wear Chico’s Zenergy: pants, crops, jackets. Lightweight, don’t wrinkle,  and by keeping the wardrobe black and white I can mix and match them with ease.

We take no more than three or four shirts –  thin fabric so they can be washed one day and be dry by the next. 

To dress them up I buy a scarf or two for a ridiculously low price from street vendors or at street markets after we arrive in Europe. They take up little suitcase space, weigh nothing and are great reminders of the trip after we get home.

A suitcase staple are silk 'long johns' (from Land’s End) tops and bottoms that take up little space, provide extra warmth – when needed – under those light weight pants. They also double for sleepwear!

washington wednesdays 005 I am a Baggallini lady. The handbags and totes were created by a couple of flight attendants who've designed a full line of bags (and suitcases) that fit under seats, in overhead bins and hold all the a traveler might need along the way. 

The tote pictured has traveled many a mile with me and when it is soiled, I just wash it and it is good to go again.

Also tucked into the 22'-suitcases we live out of for weeks at a time, are:
four plastic hangers, a few clothes pins, a flat sink stopper and several travel-sized laundry detergent are always in the suitcases.

(A wine bottle opener and purse-sided toilet paper also are handy to have as well.)

What kind of travel clothes, bags or gear do you recommend? Please leave a comment below or send an email.

Disclaimer: We’ve not been compensated for recommending any of the brands or items in this post nor were we provided any items to review. The tee-shirt photos were made available by the company for media use. The rest belong to

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dealing with Pickpockets

Last fall Joel was targeted by pickpockets minutes into the train trip into Athens from Piraeus, its nearby port city. A theft that took only seconds to accomplish provided a lengthy aftermath, one in which we believe was finally completed two months after the theft. We remain on alert for any irregularities.

We consider ourselves seasoned travelers who are alert to such attacks, but today's sophisticated pickpockets still outwitted us. Our initial disbelief turned quickly to frustration which only intensified as we worked our way through the process of canceling various plastics and a race to the cash machine to obtain enough Euro's to carry us through the rest of the trip without those plastics.

We had taken many of the precautions I've listed below; but we hadn't quite been diligent enough. Hindsight is 20-20 and this is what we we will be doing in the future and offer as suggestions to others:

Before leaving home:

1. Register your foreign destinations with your bank's credit card fraud department. All it takes is a phone call.

2. Determine how the bank will contact you about suspicious card activity if you will not be available by phone during your travels. Have either the fraud department or customer service department, explain how they will contact you if they put a hold on your card while you are traveling. Then call them back, talk with a different person, and make sure that your record clearly states how they will reach you.

  • During one of our trips, we were assured by a woman in the fraud department where we had registered our travel that we would be contacted by email -- she read the email address back to me for accuracy -- before putting a hold on an account. They didn't. But when we arrived home we found three automated messages on our answering machine telling us a hold had been placed on the account and advising us to call immediately. We didn't get that message in Paris.

  • I did call the fraud department immediately and talked with a representative who told me the fraud department would never email; only customer service can generate emails and apologized for the inconvenience. (Luckily we still had enough cash to get us to the airport).

3. Record your card numbers, security codes and expiration dates and then keep those with bank phone numbers in a separate but secure place as you travel.

4. Double check those customer service phone numbers printed on the back of your card BEFORE you leave home. The replacement card sent to us after our return last fall still has imprinted on it the numbers that are no longer working. Because we had a computer - and in room web access - we could look up the bank's web site and got correct numbers; all of which took valuable time at a time when 'time was of the essence'.

While traveling:

1. Pickpockets come in every shape and size. Well-behaved looking children to dressed-for-success-adults are as likely to swipe your belongings as is the person who may look like a vagrant in search of money.

2. Travel defensively - that doesn't mean be rude, it means don't always be polite. If someone repeatedly prevents you from moving out of congested doorwells of Metro trains, buses, or waiting areas to less congested areas, force your way past them if need be.

3. Be aware of your surroundings: keep an eye on those around you. Does someone seem to be watching you? Are they repeatedly looking at your bags? Did you feel a brush against a leg or bag? Do they seem to be doing a visual scan of your body? Are they speaking into cell phones? It could be they are talking to 'teammates' planning their strike and getaway. [Don't be paranoid about it, as not everyone who looks at you or who speaks into a cell phone is a pickpocket - just be aware of those around you.]

4. Use a money belt or other means of securing your money and passport and credit cards to you in a manner that it would be impossible to reach even with the most sophisticated wires and hooks.

5. Split your cash and credit cards, don't carry all in one place.

6. Wear shoulder bags to the inside when walking on crowded sidewalks and streets. This will keep theives on bikes and motorcycles from coming up behind you and making off with your bag.

7. Don't look and act like a tourist. . .if you are trying to read your guide book or your camera is hanging from your neck. . .you look like a tourist. Suitcases, shoulder bags or backpacks are red flags - keep them in front of you, with your arms around them when squished into jam-packed public transportation. It is a snap to slash the bottom of a backpack and make away with your belongings before you even realize you were targeted.

8. Read up on your destinations. Most travel books and web sites include information about safety and safeguards you can take.


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