Having your belongings stolen or being robbed whilst you're away travelling can be devastating, especially if you're backpacking on a budget and have no way to replace the things that are so important to you.
You're likely to not just be carrying toiletries and clothes and the other things which make everyday living whilst you're away bearable, but your cash, credit cards, passport and other expensive electronics - things which could completely derail your travelling schedule, even if you do have travel insurance.
Neither you nor your backpack are going to be 100% theft-proof but there are a few measures you can put in place to ensure that you're not the most vulnerable target, minimising the chances of theft whilst you're abroad.
Lock up your backpack
It sounds obvious but you'd be surprised at the number of people who don't always add that extra necessary security to the thing which essentially holds their life for the duration of their time abroad. People either buy the wrong type of bag or just forget that a lock could save you all of that hassle. By choosing a bag with lockable zippers (you can get a colourful range online for just over £100 - check outlets like Mountain Warehouse, Luggage Superstore and All Outdoor.
Keep your cash secure
Again, another thing which sounds like it should be pretty much common sense, but some travellers just stash their cash in their bag and lock their bag assuming that its safe, or they stash their cash on themselves, thinking that the safest place it can be is on their person.Firstly, storing all of your money in one place is a bad idea wherever you are. Should something happen - that's everything gone. There's a few things you can do whilst you're on holiday which can help prevent your money being stolen.
Keep any paper notes and traveller's cheques to an absolute minimum. Use credit cards when you can and only take 1-2 days' worth of money from an ATM. If you're worried about the ATM charges, take a little more but split your cash between your bag, your person and somewhere safe (like the safe in your hostel or hotel, for instance). It's also a good idea to only bring one credit card or to at least keep the number of cards you bring to a minimum.
Double-up on important documentation
Minimize the effect and damage a robbery has on you by making copies of all your important documentation including your accommodation confirmations, plane tickets, passport, any ID and credit/debit cards - basically, spread your money out to as many different places as possible. Store these paper copies apart from the physical copies and keep them in a watertight wallet. If you are mugged or robbed, you will still have all the important information you need to contact your credit card companies and the passport replacement service.
The easiest and cheapest way to protect things like your new DSLR camera, your GoPro and your iPhone is to leave it at home. Even though you're accustomed to having your full array of gadgets at home, it doesn't mean that you necessarily need them whilst you're travelling. You may love to have your iPad with you, but you can probably survive without it.
Hide your stuff
Not literally, but even if it takes up valuable packing space, make sure you always store your electronic devices and valuables in your hand luggage when travelling. If you constantly have your belongings out, you're advertising what you've got and making yourself more of a target for thieves. Make sure you carry the valuable stuff and pack it right at the bottom of your bag so that in the event of someone having access to your stuff, they can only have a quick rifle through the top layers.
If you're really paranoid about theft
If you're visiting a country with a particularly high crime rate or high theft incidence rate, then consider carrying a dummy wallet or purse stuffed with small change and a few fake credit cards, like the pretend ones (Vasa, or Mistro) you get when you buy a wallet or the temporary cards you use from credit card companies before you get your 'real' card later on. With this, you can give the robber something that will make him leave you alone without actually losing anything yourself.
By using these guidelines you should be more protected against any backpacking theft, but to be sure you're not left completely without should something unfortunate happen to you, it's always helpful to have decent travel insurance. For a small cost, travel insurance protects not only you, but your belongings too and will ensure you of having that help and support you need if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
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