How to Survive a Pickpocket While Traveling

I’d like to thank Lola’s Travels for sharing this article with their readers. It is an excellent source for anyone looking to explore the world and go on new adventures. I particularly enjoyed her most recent article on her favorite finds in Porto, Portugal!

Being pickpocketed can potentially ruin a vacation. You lose any money you’re carrying on you, some forms of identification, and a number of important cards. If you were home, you could probably deal with it, but away from your main base of operations, you don’t have the resources you need to land back on your feet after a day or two. Getting more money in a foreign country isn’t so easy, and you need to deal with the ramifications of someone running around with a lot of identifying information.

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Here are some of the things you should do after you’ve been pickpocketed:

Act Quickly

After you’ve been pickpocketed you have a very small window of opportunity to respond before others will use your cards and identification for their own ends. Perhaps the pickpocket uses your cards to buy themselves dinner after a clean getaway. They might also sell the contents of your wallet (minus the cash, of course) to someone else to throw law enforcement off their scent. You might have an hour or two at best.

Do not use this time to panic. You will have plenty of time to panic later and to be perfectly honest it doesn’t seem to do anyone much good. Take the following steps instead:

  • Call your credit card providers. Try to have a list of these beforehand so you can quickly go down the list.
  • Call your banks. If anything you have can be traced to an account, call the bank and tell them to be on high alert.
  • Call any other related services and business who you might have some sort of card or identification with. It is unlikely a pickpocket will do anything, but you can have a new card ready for when you get home, and you can rest assured knowing that the old card was deactivated.
  • Call your place of employment if it applies to the situation.

Have an Emergency Contact

Whenever you travel you should have someone to call in case of an emergency. Ideally this person should have the means and inclination to get you home out of an emergency (you can always pay them back later) or guide you to someone who can help. You should have this person’s phone number written down (ideally memorized) and someplace safe (in your hotel room is probably okay). After you contact your financial service providers, call this contact and see what the two of you can do.

If you can work out an emergency plan beforehand, that will make things all the easier for you. There are several services that allow one to send money to someone in a foreign country, and the fewer logistical hoops you and your contact have to jump through the more easily the situation will resolve itself. Give your contact a copy of your itinerary and your important information in a sealed envelope they can open if needed. This is all extremely important if you are travelling alone.

Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

Don’t carry everything you have in one pocket or wallet. Try to have a backup plan available just in case something happens to you. Surviving a pickpocket is so much easier if you have some extra cash or a backup card stashed away, letting you know where your next meal is coming from. It will allow you to continue to enjoy your travel once you have the details sorted out.

Also try to keep your passport in a safer place than your pocket, as not having one on you makes getting home that much harder. You need to have some identification on you, and your passport will be it if your main wallet gets pickpocketed. Make a habit of keeping it with some spare cash so that you can survive in any situation.

Use the Internet

The internet is your very best tool when recovering from having your wallet stolen. There are websites that can direct you to the right phone numbers to call, where you can have money sent and where you can eat for cheap while having little more than the change in your pocket. You can usually either use your smartphone’s data plan or find some network you can access. Even if you have to pay for internet access it is worth having those tools to get you through the ordeal.

Just make sure that you are using a Virtual Private Network while you travel so that you don’t have to deal with cybercrime and identity theft after you’ve already been pickpocketed (or before you even check in to your hotel). It’ll allow you to use public networks without any fear and access your Netflix account in lieu of more expensive entertainment. They are generally a good investment for any traveler and allow you to have another form of protection.

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Pickpockets often use different methods to snatch your wallet and often have different end goals in mind, but they are all a menace that you can protect yourself against. If you find yourself a victim, remember the above tips and you will make it through just fine. Do you have any stories to tell about pickpockets while you were travelling? Do you have any tips to add to those listed above? Please leave a reply below and join the conversation with your fellow travelers.

Guest Post by Jess, a self-confessed travel addict who has her own blog where she also writes about her adventures and experiences.

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