Traveling Abroad: Avoiding Pickpockets

In a few short months, I will be taking my first trip across the pond for a Mediterranean cruise. As excited as I am, horror stories about the pervasiveness of pickpockets and thieves in our ports of call – Rome, specifically- has me a little on edge.

I am active in our Cruise “Roll Call” on Cruise Critic, and one of the fellow posters shared some valuable safety tips that I felt compelled to pass along (with her permission, of course). Naturally, these tips would apply to you no matter where you’re traveling, but since Rome has one of the highest rates of pickpocketing in the world, I’m paying extra close attention to this information.
Before leaving for the cruise make copies of the back of your credit cards and passport. Leave a copy at home with somebody you trust and take 2 copies with you. If lost/stolen you will have handy the 1-800 to call for CCs as well as the CC info. The person at home could make the calls for you.

When abroad, leave passport in the cruise safe and bring the copy, unless required to have with you; i.e. Egypt where they clip/stamp the Visa to the passport and you HAVE TO have in your posession, specially if in an overnight (hotel check-in security process requires you present your official passport and Visa).

CONCEAL, CONCEAL, CONCEAL you valuables inside your clothing, even in an inner chest level pocket in front of your coat/jacket. Handbags and fanny packs are a horrendous idea. A sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest and an inner money belt are somewhat safer.

I usually take 2 credit cards and place them in different pockets/places. This saved my 2010 cruise from Barcelona. The pickpocketers stole my wallet from my purse. I had place a second CC in another pocket in the purse. Same with passport; only saved because it was in a separate pocket (an American passport in the Black Market is worth $20K !)

Call your credit card company and tell them you will be using your credit card overseas. This could save you a horrendous headache when the CC calls you AT HOME to notify you they are shutting down your CC because of an overseas transaction. True story.

If you need to use an ATM while abroad, try to use the ones that are inside banks. Latest scam (Venice!) is a devide placed in ATMs that captures your card numbers and pins. The crooks use the captured information to access your bank at home.

If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Pack them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.

The advice to pack light is critical to follow. Busy hands, unattended bags, and overpreoccupied minds are windows of golden opportunities for crooks. Times are tough and traveling American cruisers have zero simpathy from thieves.

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