Travel Safety Tips and Advice
A pickpocket in action.
Travel Safety – avoid being robbed on vacation!
Some international incidents over the last few years
Padlocks on luggage passing through US airports
The US Transportation Security Administration demands that all luggage travelling thru/from/to US airports, whatever the airline, must be either unlocked or locked with approved padlocks. See the TSA website for lock listings.
If you use other locks baggage screeners may break the locks and will not accept responsibility for the damage.
Do not pack valuables in your bags!
France is a Gas!
Mobile Homers beware. French thieves have have been known to pump anaesthetic gas into camping cars, then robbing the vehicles at their leisure while the owners sleep through, waking to a headache and no possessions.
Prevention: a) install a gas detector b) only camp at official sites c) don’t go to France (but then you’d miss the sights, weather and food! ).
Eurostar, Gare du Nord, Paris
Beware ‘kind’ men offering assistance at the incomprehensible ticket machines at Gare du Nord station. They usually buy you unusable tickets and charge you a silly price. Make sure you have €uros change and don’t accept help from anyone!
Recent problems with an expensive combination lock on a suitcase were solved by popping open the lock with one twist of a screwdriver. And if I can do it, so can anyone.
Furthermore, on investigation, little mass-produced ‘travel’ padlocks that you can buy from travel carousels at airports and in many shops all used the same key. Thus any half-intelligent, thieving baggage handler/room maid would need to make only a small investment in a couple of popular keys (e. g. the ‘Go’ brand) to get access to many cases.
Moral: Don’t use combination locks and buy your padlocks from a locksmith beforehand, including a spare, and check they require different keys to open them.
Unlicensed taxis are occasionally driven by muggers and rapists it seems, a global development as unpleasant reports have arrived from Bangkok (Thailand), Cusco (Peru), Mexico City and Prague (Czech Republic) on the same subject.
The obvious solution, if you can afford it, is always get a cab from a taxi rank or hotel or at least hail one that looks official – with a sign on the roof. Check the driver’s photo licence. In Thailand get a taxi rather than the quaint but dodgy tuk-tuks.
Unfortunately crowded public transport in many locations is also a thief’s paradise – pickpockets can discreetly extract valuables even from zipped pockets on buses and trams, as Peter Thorpe of Staffs, UK discovered recently in Prague. He points out that you should be wary while waiting in addition to when aboard as thieves may note the location of valuables before boarding.
Safety should be high on the priorities list, even if it hammers the budget.
Moral: Official taxis and better quality hotel rooms will help preserve your valuables and more. . .
Thailand Special! Lovely, must-see country, culture and beaches but…
– Petty thievery is common in Bangkok, bigger resorts and small cheap hotels, so look out for your valuables, especially if you’re busy getting wrecked, so secure your goodies before a night on the rampage.
– Private long-distance buses have a terrible reputation. Thievery is rife on board especially during overnight trips and actively supported by many bus operators, including stowing a lad with a light and lock-picks in the luggage hold during the entire journey! Locks are no protection, keep all valuables on your body and beware when the lights go out! And/or take a bus from a government bus station.
– Also use a little common sense about going off to lonely places with friendly Thais, and do not take unmarked taxis, particularly women.
– Ensure hotel rooms are secured at night, sneak in thievery is common, especially in cheap hotels where locks are inefficient. Stick a chair or wedge under the door.
Cities where you have most chance of being robbed
1: Kingston, Jamaica
“Crime against tourists is increasing despite government efforts. ”
2: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“Crime levels remain high, exacerbated by police corruption and inaction. ”
3: Cape Town, South Africa
“Street crime remains serious and guns are a part of everyday life. ”
4: Mexico City, Mexico
5: St Petersburg, Russia
6: Buenos Aires, Argentina
7: Bangkok, Thailand
8: Washington, USA
9: Rome, Italy
10: Athens, Greece
Countries where Brits have most chance of getting into trouble or sickand asking help from the British Embassy, according to the UK Foreign Office:
– Thailand ( x5 more likely to die than when visiting India! ); India; Greece; Spain; Czech Republic (probable cause there: Prague Stag Parties! )
Generally problems are caused by cheap flights delivering visitors lacking in both preparation and travel insurance. Exotic journeys are serious business, be prepared and investigate places to travel and travelling safety!