We have traveled extensively around the world, both with and without kids. We been victims of pickpockets multiple times, teaching us some valuable lessons on how to avoid being pickpocketed. This article on how to avoid pickpockets is useful for all travelers, not just new parents traveling with a baby. It is not intended to make you paranoid, but instead to help you be more prepared and prevent being pickpocketed.
There are three good reasons why pickpockets love to prey on tourists:
- Tourists are distracted
- Tourists carry cash
- Tourists carry carry phones and cameras.
As a new parent traveling with a baby you are more distracted than most tourists, which puts you even more at risk of attracting pickpockets.
Lessons from a Victim of a Pickpocket
No matter how diligent you are avoiding pickpockets, sometimes you will just get caught off guard. It happens. During our visit to Barcelona with a baby, we knew better than to be caught off guard.
But guess what? It was our first trip with our baby and we were distracted by our daughter and the amazing sights of Barcelona. Pickpockets are highly skilled in Europe and we weren’t surprised to discover that a pickpocket got into our backpack. Thankfully, we had learned how to avoid pickpockets, and all the pickpocket found in our backpack was a handful of diapers.
To reduce the impact of a pickpocket attempt, we recommend you take the following actions on your trip:
- Carry as little cash as possible and carry it in a highly inconvenient location (more on this below)
- Take advantage of cloud storage and upload photos from your phone or camera nightly from your hotel
If you become a victim of a pickpocket on your trip, don’t let it ruin your trip. Phones and cameras can be replaced (trust us, we know!), but you will never get a second chance to relive your travel experiences. Based on our real life travels, here are our best tips on how to not get pickpocketed.
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8 Tips for How to Avoid Pickpockets
1. Keep your cash in a secure location
For Men: Carry a small travel wallet in your front pocket. Never put your wallet in your back pocket as it is extremely easy to steal from there. Instead, buy a very travel small wallet, enough for one or two credit cards, your driver’s licence and a small amount of cash and carry it in your front pocket at all times.
Carry most of your cash in a zippered front pocket. The only place harder for a pickpocket to get to than your front pocket, is a zippered front pocket. Keep a little cash in your small travel wallet in case a thief demands your money, but keep most of your money tucked away in a zippered front pocket. This will be nearly impossible for a pickpocket to get at.
For Women: If you want to carry a purse, a crossbody bag is best or consider one of these anti theft backpacks. To help avoid being pickpocketed, always carry your crossbody bag on your front and not your side or back. Keep only non-valuables in your backpack diaper bag that you wear on your back.
2. Use your stroller to hide your valuables
As a traveling parent, your stroller can be a big asset when it comes to avoiding pickpockets. When you are out sightseeing put your camera, backpack or purse, etc. in the hard-to-reach places in the stroller. For example, a pickpocket will find it very hard to get at the storage area at the bottom of your stroller while you are moving.
This strategy to avoid pickpockets only works while you are on the move. Move your valuables to a more secure location if you will be stopped for any period of time as a skilled pickpocket may still get at your things.
3. Strategically position the zippers on your daybag
Leaving the zippers at the top of your daybag makes it extremely easy for a thief to get in. Instead, leave the zippers at the bottom of the side of your bag which makes it most inconvenient for them. For example, if you have a water bottle on one side, place the zippers on that side behind the water bottles. As simple as it is, zipper placement is a very effective way to avoid pickpockets while travelling.
Of course, if you’d like to take your strategy on how to avoid pickpockets one step further, you can always invest in an anti-theft travel backpack. This travel gear upgrade has tons of anti-theft technology and will go a long way helping you avoid pickpockets while traveling.
4. Never place your bag down then tend to your baby
If you need to tend to your baby, never place your bag down and look away from your bag. Likewise, never place your camera or phone on a chair next to you. When you look back to retrieve your items you will likely find a pickpocket has taken them from you.
A better strategy to avoid pickpockets is to have your significant other hold your bag, phone or camera instead while you deal with your baby.
5. Use your day bag to protect your camera
If, like us, you travel with a larger camera such as a DLSR or mirrorless camera, you instantly become a more attractive target for pickpockets. A favorite tactic of thieves is to grab your camera by the strap and run. You can help prevent this from happening by running your camera strap through the clipped front strap of your day bag. This strategy takes away the grab-and-dash opportunity for would-be thieves.
If you need to put your camera away in your day bag, hook the camera strap through another strap on the bag. This strategy to avoid being pickpocketed makes it significantly harder to steal your camera if a thief manages to get his or her hands inside your bag.
6. Be extra cautious on public transportation
If you are taking public transportation and find yourself jammed in like a sardine, carry your bags on your front. Place one hand near the zippers and one hand on the bottom (as pickpockets love to slice open the bottom of bags to steal the belongings).
To help avoid being pickpockets on public transportation, pay attention to the behaviour of nearby passengers. If another passenger makes an unusually big effort to sit/stand next to you, they are likely a pickpocket. To neutralize the pickpocket risk, try to move away from them or at a minimum, turn away such that your belongings are facing away from them. Stare at them and let them know you are aware of their presence.
7. Pay attention to each other’s belongings
Perhaps the most effective way to avoid pickpockets is to be aware of your surroundings. If one parent is taking pictures, the other partner should be aware of who is nearby and watch for any suspicious people approaching.
8. Do not be the easiest target
Remember, pickpockets will always target the easiest victims first. If you take these simple, yet effective steps to avoid pickpockets, you make yourself a much harder target and therefore greatly reduce your risk of being a victim.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.