If you thought you were a target for thieves when you were drunkenly backpacking across Europe during your gap year, just wait until you roll into town with a few kids constantly distracting you. I don’t mean to insinuate that you are not safe and you shouldn’t travel, just be smart about it.
Why Target Families?
The answer is simple, thieves don’t care who they are stealing from, they just look for easy targets. Children holding valuables like tablets, cameras, and phones make them an easy target. Adults constantly distracted by kids are also easy targets.
So how can you make yourself theft-proof?
You can’t, but you can make yourself a harder target. It is like the old joke about you and I being chased by a bear, I don’t need to be faster than the bear, I just need to be faster than you. If you make yourself a harder target and demonstrate just a bit of street smarts, thieves will turn their attention towards easier targets.
Don’t Carry Valuables…Or At Least Conceal Them
Don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables. Also don’t bring your precious things on holiday and don’t carry your passport around with you. If you do need to carry cash and cards use a money belt or at least have things in your front pocket to make yourself a harder target. Wallets and mobile phones sticking up from back pockets or hanging out of hand bags are easy targets.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Always know who is around you particularly in crowded places with lots of action. Thieves are looking for opportunities when you are distracted and if you have kids, you’re always distracted. Tourists studying a map, the bustle of people getting on and off the train, a rousing dice or card game where the tourist seems to be winning big, these are all opportunities for pickpockets. I once got separated from my wife and kids on a busy tube carriage in London and watched someone size up my wife and son and continuously get closer while starring at my wife’s purse. Strangely as I made my way down the carriage, he must have realized he had an important affair to attend to further down the carriage and away from my family.
Know the Scams
Make sure you and your kids understand the scams. We were in Paris once walking toward the Eiffel Tower and in front of us on the sidewalk, a little old lady bent down and picked up something off the ground and showed us a gold ring. She then tried to hand it to my son and ask if he lost it. We kept on walking. Scams are all over in tourist areas. In Rome we had a man practically grab our son and start putting bracelets on his arm and demanding money in return. Don’t touch anything that is not yours or that you have no intent of buying, and this goes for the kids too.
We like to look nice even on holiday, but it is also time to leave the expensive stuff at home. If you advertise yourself as a person with money, you will get unwanted attention. Expensive, designer handbags and extravagant jewelry are like beacons for thieves. Also don’t constantly take cameras and tablets in and out of bags giving perspective thieves a target.
The last thing I hope anyone takes away from this article is that they should be afraid of people. We have never actually been robbed, though we have seen the scams and attempts mentioned above. I could not mention every type of scam imaginable or it would take days to read this article. Just try to be smart and arm yourself with a little knowledge and you can make yourselves the hard target you want to be.
Safe and happy travels.
P.S. This post can also be viwed via Fearless Family Travel #FearlessFamTrav.