By now if you know me you've heard of my unfortunate incident in Greece and if not...feel free to read it again or ask me in person cause I love to tell of the lesson learned.
To summarize for those who don't want to read or aren't sitting across from me in today's Coffee Shop, I got got for my passport. Yep, ya girl pick-pocketed from the back. I blame me, Amber, and the thief. I got lazy and tired toward the end of the day and at the end of our trip and just didn't follow the rules I've set up for myself.
I don't want you to go thru what I did in any form so here are some tips.
1. Be cognizant of your surroundings. If it feels sketch or people are eyeing you more than because you are a tourist, leave. No photo opportunity is worth your items being stolen.
2. Get an anti-theft bag, and don't go bulky backpack style if you aren't backpacking. Anything on your back is fair game for pickpockets, same goes for something hanging on your side. Get a bag that wears/hangs in your front or wraps around your waist with a lock of some sort. I'm also a fan of neck passport holders for both passports, cash, and credit cards. Ladies run it under your bra for extra security.
3. Don't be afraid to say NO with conviction to anyone who approaches you trying to sell something simple like bracelets or flowers. Generally the pickpocket is doing their job while the other person is distracting you, or they are running a scam to charge tourists money for a stupid bracelets. And keep moving, don't stop and engage.
4. ATM skimming is common stateside as well as overseas. Use ATM's, if possible, inside banks. If not, check the machine and the area, if it's sketch keep walking, there will be another. And if you are traveling with a companion use the back-to-back method when pulling cash, one watching the area, the other getting cash.
5. Speaking of cards, if possible use a credit card when traveling. If not, ensure that the debit card you are using isn't attached to an account that contains every penny you have. I use a paypal card when traveling that I transfer funds to when I need to. I also have alerts set up so I get an email every time my card is used. I will stand there and wait til the email comes thru to ensure the charge is correct.
6. Don't walk around with your phone, camera, or purse hanging loosely in your hands. It's easy for a thief to run up and snatch it out of your hands and keep running, there are also thieves on motorbikes who do the same.
7. Don't get comfortable while sitting in that cute coffee spot or restaurant. Don't place your bags in an area that you can't easily see (eye level) or block someone else from accessing. The same goes for your cell phone. If you aren't using it, then don't leave it on the table.
8. Keep an electronic/paper copy of all your important documents to include a picture of your passport, ID and travel plans, i.e., hotel/flight reservations. Things happen and nothing is infallible including the loss of your reservation in a hotel's system. Also send someone you trust your itinerary, flight/hotel reservation, and general outline of what you are doing. Have a check-in once a day via text/call or email.
9. Be careful with your valuables in your hotel room. If you don't need your laptop, leave it at home, along with the fancy jewelry. I keep my passport on me at all times when traveling because that's just more comfortable for me, and I don't trust hotel safes. Find your comfort zone.
And last but not least, know where the Embassy is and steps to take if something where to happen. I was fortunate in Greece that the Embassy answered my call and told me the next steps quickly and easily. I was inconvenienced by having to stay in Greece one extra day. And fortunately, I could afford the new passport and hotel stay.