Is Your Family Theft-Proof While Travelling?

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?

Kids can definitely be a distraction.
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

La Rambla in Barcelona is notoriously one of the worst locations for pickpockets in Europe.
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.

Don’t Advertise

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 Rundown

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.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Nanouk says:

    Great tips! It’s good to be alert without being scared. Very good advice to involve the kids too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found it helpful!


  2. Great practical list

    Thanks for joining #fearlessfamtrav


  3. WanderMum says:

    Great tips. Thankfully I’ve never had an incident while travelling with my children. Definitely keep across any local ‘scams’. I came across a few in Istanbul and I leave my expensive jewellery at home and make use of the hotel room’s safe for passports and money. #fearlessfamtrav


    1. My wife and I got scammed at a restaurant in Marrakech recently. I think that was the first time I’ve gotten scammed, but maybe I’ve been scammed and not even realized it.


  4. Useful tips here – I like to think I’m pretty streetwise, but I hadn’t really thought about how distracting travelling with a toddler can be! I will have to be a bit more alert… #fearlessfamtrav


  5. Thanks for the great advice! We’ve seen many of those scams too. Now that our kids are a little older we’ll have to teach them how to avoid issues as well! #fearlessfamtrav


  6. this was a great title, it really caught my eye… with my answer being “No your family is not Theft-Proof”. The first time i got pickpocketed as a backpacker i was quite devastated, but began to see it as part of the experience of travel. Your overview of scams is excellent, as is pointing out that travelling with kids we are likely to be a bigger target. a great blog, thanks for sharing. #fearlessfamtrav


  7. daisythebus says:

    Very useful tips! We’re probably lucky never to have been targeted, because with four young kids we are constantly distracted. I guess that we tend to avoid the obvious tourist places, but when we do find ourselves in such a place, we do try to be as vigilant as possible. #FearlessFamTrav


  8. Wherejogoes says:

    Good tips! When you are watching out for kids I guess you are less watchful of other things like pickpockets. I know I’m concentrating in busy cities on keeping hold of my daughters and perhaps pay less attention to other things. I’m teaching my kids now to keep hold of their things now they have their own phones etc – bigger risk #citytripping


  9. Alex says:

    You’re dead right and these are good reminders – we too have come across some of these scams and they can be really annoying! As of yet we’ve not done a city break with kids (other than london) as we’ve always been fortunate enough to go as just adults but we will be doing a few cities with them this Summer and these are good reminders for me – I needed them, I can get a bit complacent and trusting sometimes. #fearlessfamtrav


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