It happens to a lot of tourists: you stop to get a bite to eat, locking your car with all your stuff in it, and you’ve parked it close by in a well lit area. Then you get back and someone has keyed into the car and taken everything right under your nose. Overall when traveling, unless you know you are completely surrounded by nature for miles, your motto should be EVER VIGILANT.
1. Leave the TV or radio on when you leave your room.
Yes, it uses up some electricity, but either that, or the crooks will be sure that no one is home or awake. With the noise, they can’t be 100% certain, so they will often go to the next quieter room.
2. Don’t leave stuff near windows.
Many thieves will use sticks or hooks to grab on to your bags and pull them towards the window. They don’t have to get inside to steal your stuff.
3. Don’t invite strangers into your room.
That new friend who seemed cool may just be scoping out your stuff. They are happy showing you a fun bar or scenic location, and meanwhile their friends are cleaning out your closet.
4. Don’t bring stuff you would not want to get stolen.
Those fancy rings, bracelets, and tech toys can be left at home. Do you really need your iPhone AND your iPad AND your laptop? Using the tablet in public sometimes just shouts out: “TAKE ME!”
5. Bring a bike lock.
I know it can be heavy to carry with you, but when you leave your room or store luggage, you can use one to lock your bags together making them too heavy to carry, or lock them to a bed frame or pipe in your room so no one can drag them off.
6. Use the hotel safe.
That’s why they have them! To protect your important stuff (passports, cash, camera, phone). If there is not one in your room, ask the front desk if they have one you can use, but don’t leave cash in that one since it’s too conspicuous when you pull it out.
7. Be aware of scams.
If someone asks to make change for a big bill, how do you know it’s not fake? Go with this guy for a free tour in exchange for a sales pitch, and it may just get you to goto the WRONG place with the wrong people. Someone needs help finding a wedding ring on the ground, and while you help them, another person is taking your bags. There are a thousand ways to sucker somebody if you let them.
8. Be nice to the hotel staff.
At many hotels in rural settings, the people who work there know the community so may influence who is stealing from whom. The house cleaners and bellhops and front desk clerks also may be thieves. So if you are nice to them, they may just steal someone else’s stuff – all things being equal. Or they will help watch your stuff while you are gone.
9. Hide your money in separate, unusual places.
If you are worried about theft, then you can at least mitigate your losses by splitting up your money. Put some in the wash kit, put some in a pocket of your dirty clothes in your suitcase, some in your camera bag, and if you are not one who forgets where they hid stuff, put some under the mattress (not in the pillowcase since sometimes the house cleaners switch them out).
10. Localize the rental vehicle.
It can’t hurt to put on sticker on the back windshield to make it look like you own the car and possibly live in the country. You could also get it dirty so it looks older. And to really make it look local is to add a flag from the country or favorite soccer team. These are small things, but the thief will check out a lot of cars and you want yours to be looked over and forgotten.