Beat the baggage thieves: 10 tips for keeping your stuff safe

None of us wants to think the worst of our fellow man, but unfortunately, on occasion, the unsuspecting and unprepared traveller does fall victim to a bag-nicking, money-pinching thief.

thief.jpg

To make sure the only things stolen are moments watching a Thai beach sunset or a holiday romance kiss, just follow our 10 simple tips that should ensure you keep your belongings where they belong.

1. Ensure you Insure It

Insurance is one of the most important things to remember before setting off on your travels. Both for your belongings and your health; if everything really does go wrong, at least you know you'll be able to recoup the costs of any stolen belongings or medical expenses. Read more travel insurance advice.

2. Look After Your Bling

Large wads of cash, passports, credit cards and anything valuable or precious should always be carried as close to your person as possible. Don't stick it in a pocket on the outside of your backpack; keep it either in a money belt under your clothes or in a smaller day pack that is always with you. You’ll often be separated from your big luggage, but if you keep your most precious items close, at the very least you'll always have cash, and the means to get home.

suitcase_eyes.jpg3. The Writing's on the Bag

It's not only opportunistic bag-nappers that pose a threat to your luggage. Airports, luggage carousels and other travellers can pose as much of a threat, albeit accidental. Nowadays many bags look so similar that it's all too easy for a travel-weary backpacker to lift the wrong pack from the belt.

Avoid this happening by writing your address and name clearly on your bag in permanent marker pen as well as adding a distinguishing feature whether it's a piece of ribbon, Lugguage Eyes or a Black Sabbath sticker - basically anything that allows you to quickly identify your own bag.

4. Zip It

Check all zips and locks before you travel to make sure they work. Invest in a couple of mini zip padlocks or cable ties for when in busy markets or areas where you're surrounded by people as these will add a little extra protection to your kit. The harder your bag is to get in to, the less a thief will bother. They're always looking for an easy target, so don't make yourself one!

5. Keep it Close

When you need to get some shut-eye, whether it's at the airport or on a train, always make sure that you have your backpack either under your head or as close to you as you can; attached by some parachute cord or a strap.

That way, if anyone tries to rifle through its contents, you should wake up. Thieves work with such speed that they could half-inch your bag in seconds from under a table as you sit blissfully unaware, sipping tea in a café. Slip the handles of your pack under the leg of your chair so as not to give them the chance.

safe.iStock_000000302003XSmall.jpg6. Lock it Up

You may think your bags will be safe in your hotel or hostel but why take a chance? Buy a handy PacSafe Cable Lock and attach your bag to any heavy object like the bed or radiator, for extra security. If your hotel has a safe, use it. Try and find accommodation via recommendations by friends or at the very least, good website reviews.

7. Know What You've Got Before it's Gone

Simple but useful for checking your possessions as you travel, a list, made prior to jetting off, of all your belongings, will help you keep track of everything as you circumnavigate the globe. You can add to the list by hand as you accumulate tacky souvenirs and pairs of Bermuda shorts in your ever-expanding pack.

8. Low Key is Best

If you're going to carry flashy gear, designer brands and hi-tech, expensive gadgets, try and do it discreetly as possible. Make your battered, old and unattractive items the ones you show off to potential thieves. Nothing screams ‘target’ more than someone with a Rolex and Nikon camera bag draped over their arm while sporting the latest Ray Bans.

9. Slash the Odds

Bag slashing is thankfully a relatively rare occurrence. This is when unimaginative thieves simply use a knife or razor to slit the side of your bag and yank things out. You can get special wire mesh to go inside your pack making it much harder for thieves to use this technique.

Or, at the very least ensure you pack your worn clothing on the outer edges of your bag, increasing the chances of bag slashers getting away with your dirty undies and not much else.

10. Home is Where your Pack is

Above all else, treat your rucksack like your best friend. It's your home away from home so sleep close to it, use it as a pillow and do whatever you can to keep it out of harm’s way.