Thanks to the popular hotel review site, TripAdvisor, we have some fresh thoughts on how to avoid pickpockets, the bane of every traveler's existence. Well, some would say that airport security is the bane of every air traveler's existence, but pickpockets do affect families, too.
Thanks to the popular hotel review site, TripAdvisor, we have some fresh thoughts on how to avoid pickpockets, the bane of every traveler's existence. Well, some would say that airport security is the bane of every air traveler's existence, but pickpockets do affect families, too. Whether you're on a long road trip or round-the-world expedition, no one wants the hassle of replacing their valuables while on vacation.
The family vacation is an important time to introduce kids to safety in general, starting with safety in public places (especially for students traveling alone), hotel room safety, and pool and water safety, all topics that FTF experts have addressed.
Watching their valuables is an important lesson for kids to learn. Some experts recommend that kids switch out the tell-tale white earbuds that come with expensive iPods for non-brand ones that can be purchased cheaply in electronic stores. Ditto for putting portable video game players and pocket digital cameras in non-descript carrying cases. Parents may want to limit the amount of cash that kids carry, allowing just enough to return to a hotel in case the child gets lost or separated from a group. Every traveler should lock up his or her passport in the hotel room safe, and travel around with only a photocopy.
In addition to these common sense precautions, TripAdvisor travelers and editors share five tips to help everyone in the family avoid getting pickpocketed.
Top 5 Tips to Avoid Being Pickpocketed
1. Never keep your wallet or valuables in your rear pocket, even if it buttons – it's by far the easiest target.
2. Beware of the distraction tactic. Dropping something near you, squirting something on you, or simply jostling you. Be on guard when in crowds, and secure your belongings.
3. Pickpockets often work in pairs or groups and it's not just the usual suspects. Be cautious with any strangers–sometimes people who don't look like they'd be a threat, such as children or the elderly, can be part of larger operations.
4. Stay alert in confined spaces and near passageways. Try to avoid standing near the doorways of trains as groups of pickpockets can rush at you when the doors open.
5. Before you set off on a trip, pare down the contents of your purse or wallet as the smaller the bulge, the less likely pickpockets are to covet it.
"Not always a basic 'lift-and-run' operation, expert pickpocketing can sometimes involve more complicated scams," said Christine Petersen, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. "Travelers need to be aware of all kinds of tricks meant to distract them from their belongings while enjoying popular world attractions."
10 Cities & Neighborhoods in which You are Likely to be Pickpocketed
The 10 citiies noted below, most in Europe — and crammed with outdoor attractions that attract crowds and pickpocketers — should be visited with the most caution. Descriptions of neighborhoods provided by TripAdvisor and its site visitors.
1. Barcelona, Spain
One reviewer actually compares Barcelona pickpocketing to a generally practiced and accepted sport, like soccer. For those who'd rather stay off the field, take caution: Las Ramblas, the famous wide, pedestrian walkway full of life, music, and people at all hours of the day and night, is the perfect place to get your purse poached.
2. Rome, Italy
With its ancient buildings and astounding historical and cultural attractions, Rome is full of both tourists and incredible things to sightsee. With thousands of people admiring the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon, it's easy for a pickpocket to lift a camera or purse with a quick snip of scissors or some clever handiwork with a zipper.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
The famously beautiful Charles Bridge is lined with 30 baroque-style statues, as well as thousands of tourists who crowd its ancient stones each year, making a perfect recipe for pickpocketing. Before taking in the view of the Vltava River and the Prague Castle beyond, be sure valuables are strapped down.
4. Madrid, Spain
El Rastro fleamarket and the crowded metro are often cited as spots where unfriendly pickpocket schemes can put a damper on a visit to this beautiful city. However, travelers should also beware that in museums (Madrid has many) pickpockets can be crafty as well, preying on distracted tourists.
5. Paris, France
The City of Light draws enormous crowds from the base of the Eiffel Tower to the steps of Sacre-Coeur and everywhere in between. But enormous crowds can also be found below ground, in the city's metro system, where travelers should be especially cautious.
6. Florence, Italy
It is certainly easy to see why tourists would be distracted by the majestic beauty of Michelangelo's David and the other incredible and awe-inspiring works of art and pieces of history all around Florence. When admiring Michelangelo's creation, or at its replica in busy Piazza della Signoria, be alert that others may have their attention on your wallet.
7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a vibrant and culturally rich city with much to offer, from the famed Teatro Colon to the city's many distinct neighborhoods. However, if while sightseeing you find you are suddenly covered in "bird droppings" (likely mustard) and a "friendly" local (likely a thief) happens to be standing by with napkins to help you clean up, beware.
8. Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's easy to get carried away in Amsterdam with so many fun things to see and do, but don't be too taken in by the canals and the friendly, laid-back atmosphere – pickpocketers have been known to take advantage of countless tourists in this enchanting city.
9. Athens, Greece
This legendary city features countless ancient monuments, many of which are outdoors. Whether visiting the Parthenon on the Acropolis, or anything else in this magnificent historic city, keep the bags close to the vest while your eyes admire the rest.
10. Hanoi, Vietnam
The capital of Vietnam has its charming Old Quarter, littered with monuments and colonial architecture, and the city also features 600 temples and pagodas, making it a beautiful and unique place to visit, but also a place to stay alert for mischief.
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