Theft can be one of the most discouraging parts of travel.
Are you going on a backpacking trip that will take you to hostels where you may be sharing accommodations or sleeper trains where you may be in the company of pick pockets or petty thieves?
Here at Road Warrior, our team of travel experts often gets asked what we think about securing valuables through travel.
There are a lot of options available, from a simple key or combination lock on a backpack to a more sophisticated backpack “cage”, which consists of a wire mesh that goes around the exterior of the backpack and has a lock that keeps it in place.
Our opinion? After experiencing the threat of pick pockets and petty theft at hostels and in sleeper trains throughout Asia and Europe, here are a few tips we suggest:
1) Always keep your valuables out of the main backpack and in a daypack (or similar) where you can keep them close to your body. It goes without saying, but never leave valuables such as passports, computers or money unattended.
2) When traveling overnight, such as on a sleeper train or bus, try and keep your belongings such as your day pack and main backpack attached to you. The closer it is to you, the harder it will be for petty thieves to gain access. A small wire loop with a lock can keep your packs attached to your leg so that you would be able to “feel” if someone was trying to steal the pack or get into its contents.
3) Keep a strong combination lock on your main pack to act as a deterrent, like a Dudley lock that can’t easily be broken. Oftentimes, many petty thieves will have a skeleton key to most of the locks that are TSA approved or will be able to use metal cutter to get through small luggage locks. But, the simple use of a combination lock will often deter most petty thieves who will look for easier targets.
4) Keep it simple. The use of backpack cages and other more complicated contraptions can often be cumbersome! And they will not deter a thief from stealing the entire pack! A few small cables and some locks can provide the same security that a backpack cage offers, for a lot less in cost, much less in weight and much more convenience!
5) Sometimes you will have to store your big pack away from you. In those circumstances, consider a smaller “security” pack for your valuables. Here’s a great option:
6) Pack light! The less valuables you will be carrying (and the less you are carrying in general), the less you will have to worry! And, don’t carry more cash than is necessary at any particular time.
The Road Warrior Team