Travelling is almost always fun and exciting, until you lose something. When we are trying to enjoy ourselves with the limited time we have during our vacations, losing our luggage, passport, wallet or phone can quickly ruin the whole experience by causing an extreme amount of inconvenience and stress. Of course, having a great travel insurance policy can help mitigate your losses if such a situation ever surfaces. But, even that won't be able to recover your lost time and energy that could've been spent doing actually doing something enjoyable at your destination. As always, prevention, not "cure", is a better solution. In that regard, here are 3 travel gadgets you can get to almost eliminate the risk of your losing (or getting stolen) your passport, wallet or smartphone again.
Anti-Theft Shoulder Bags or Backpacks
One of the biggest reasons for losing valuables while travelling is theft. In fact, studies report that there are roughly 400,000 pickpocketing incidents occurring per day worldwide, which is more than 10% of international arrivals occuring around the world (roughly 1.2bn per year). Not only that, roughly 33% of travel insurance claims are for lost or stolen items. Since tourists are easy targets for pickpockets because usually distracted with their new experiences or with finding their way through unfamiliar streets, the best practice for them is to always leave their valuables in their hotel's safety box. However, this isn't always an option for people staying at hostels, and you still need to carry around other valuables like wallets, phones, sunglasses, and sometimes even passports in some countries like the US where it is required at many bars. What can you do in such situations?
The most highly targeted cities around the world for pickpocketing according to Safes International
- Barcelona, Spain
- Rome, Italy
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Madrid, Spain
- Paris, France
- Florence, Italy
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Athens, Greece
- Hanoi, Vietnam
One travel gadget you might want to purchase is an anti-theft bag. Typically costing S$70 or less, these bags generally have 2 traits in common. First, their zippers are extremely difficult to open because they either come with locks or are located in hidden places (i.e. between the backpack and the person's back). Secondly, they are typically cut-resistant to prevent thieves from stealthily slashing your bag to take your belongings. Some of them even come with some cool features like USB ports to charge your electronics.
While anti-theft bags could work well for certain items that you don't need frequently, their security features actually make them less ideal for items like smartphones you need to use for taking pictures and finding your way or credit cards to pay for things overseas throughout the day. Instead, storing all of them inside a smartphone lanyard could be a good compromise between security and easy access. Since you can wear the lanyard around your neck, it's very difficult for pickpockets to snatch them from you.
Travel Money Belts
For those who are travelling to developing countries where access to ATM, moneychangers or credit card terminals are rare, bringing a decent amount of cash is almost an necessity. However, bringing around a large amount of cash can be rather uncomfortable mentally, especially when you need to take out your fattened up wallet. Everytime you open up your wallet, you are suddenly wary of prying eyes that might be tempted to target your large stove of cash. Instead, you can use a travel money belt to store your cash under your shirt, safely close to you and invisible to anyone else. Their RFID protection also makes them ideal for credit cards (some thefts are done by magnetically scanning your card).
As with anything, prevention, not treatment, is the best form of protection. To the extent that you can, it's generally a good practice to keep your belongings secure by only taking out what you need with you. This means leaving everything you can (including unnecessary extra cash) in a safe deposit box if you that's available at your accommodation. But, a lot of travellers, especially the young travellers who are backpacking around the world on a budget, don't always stay at expensive hotels that provide safe box. In that regard, these 3 items are relatively affordable and extremely useful investments to ensure that you can peacefully enjoy your trip without worrying about getting pickpocketed or dealing with the hassle of replacing your passport, cancelling your credit cards, submitting your travel insurance claims and getting a new phone.