How to Avoid Pickpockets…Ximena’s Version

I have read countless How to Avoid Pickpockets. But no matter how many you’ve read they are all different and give new information.

My first European trip was spent with my family in Spain in 2009 towards the beginning of their economic hardships. I was given my moms credit card, a budget, and the power to research. I looked up everything I possibly could which included many articles on how to get pick pocketed.

Our first afternoon in Madrid we walked past a charming church and decided to stop in. Will my sister and I appreciated from a far, our parents were closer to the doors. I noticed some women approaching our parents and begin to talk to them. In that moment I turned to my sister and said I think Dad is going to get pick pocketed. If I wasn’t a stupid and seventeen I would have ran and stopped it from happening. Instead my Dad got 300 euro stolen from him.

I have learned a lot from that experience and wish I had shared my knowledge with my family before we started traveling. Since then I have been lucky enough to not get anything taken from me (knock on wood)… Here are my tips:

 

Do your research.

Awesome you made it this article! Now make sure you read as many as possible. There are countless scams and tricks thieves use, be smarter than them by doing your research. Unless you are going to Japan then there is almost no need (mostly). Side Story: My friend forgot his backpack on a bus in Tokyo. He waited by the bus stop for an hour until the same bus he got off came by his stop again. On it was his backpack and inside all his belongs untouched.

So right don’t forget to research different pick pocketing and scam techniques to avoid them!

 

Don’t be afraid to use your voice.

I was walking alone on a gorgeous day in Paris when 3 kids holding pamphlets rushed up to me. I knew this scam from some other articles, they push the papers into your face and while you are distracted go for your bag. That day i had a small purse with double zips. As soon as these kids approached my hand went straight to my bag to cover the zippers. I began to say “No, no not interested” they pushed harder and started to get into my personal space. I started to panic, natural instinct came in effect. I yelled “GO AWAY” and pushed through them. As soon as I got vocal they backed off. I walked away with nothing taken and when I glimpsed back I could see them approaching their next victim.

 

Lock everything. 

My last trip I had a carry-on suitcase and a two pocket jansport. While on planes, trains, buses, or whenever I was lugging them around a city, I had locks. When stressing over finding your hostel it is best not to stress over avoiding getting pickpocketed. Locking up the main pocket of my backpack made it nearly impossible for anyone to take anything and in the small front pocket I only carried hand sanitizer and my directions. Locking luggage was the best way to keep things safe while on the move.

Locks are also important while staying at hostels. Most have lockers underneath the bed to store things but large suitcases won’t fit. While most people in hostels are trustworthy its never a bad idea to keep large luggage locked up anyway. One hostel I stayed at literally had one high school looking locker per person. I had to stash my valuables and nothing else in it. Being able to lock my suitcase made me feel a little safer about my clothes not being stolen (since this does happen in hostels).

 

Be aware 

I tend to always be on alert even when I am around my home town or current city. However I am aware that if it wasn’t for a friend I would have lost my purse. After getting very drunk in Barcelona one night our twosome was walking up La Rambla around 5 am to make it back to her apartment. We started hearing voices behind us and were suddenly in the middle of a group of very aggressive transvestite prostitutes. Me being me (even waasssssted) suddenly pulled my bag closer to myself to defend my belongings. The “ladies” around us took offence and were furious. My darling friend luckily knew Catalan and soothed over the rough relations. I woke up the next morning suddenly aware that my ass had about to be grass if things went over a little differently. So even though I knew the situation was a little dangerous, I did not do the right thing to protect what was most important, the well being of my friend and I.

 

Do more research 

I have not traveled to anywhere too dangerous but this article is great for anywhere you might go. Read it and be wise: How not to get robbed when traveling to a dangerous country

 

Hope this helps, be wise.

Ximena.

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