Avoiding Scams And Thieves While Traveling Abroad

Flickr user Modenadude

My wife and I had just left the Musee D’Orsay when a young woman came running up to us clutching a ring.

The pretty brunette spoke in halting English, saying she saw it drop to the ground as we walked by. After a quick scan of our fingers, we told her we weren’t missing any rings, but she placed the ring in my hand and insisted we take it for friendship. Before my heart could swell with the joy of international love and brotherhood, she then asked for money for a cup of coffee. At that point, I realized it was a scam and handed her back the ring, which she no doubt tried to foist onto another hapless tourist couple.

While our stay in Paris was overall a wonderful experience, criminals threatened to put a damper on our trip. Before our flight out of Charles de Gaulle Airport, we would be accosted by other scam artists several more times, and my wife was pick-pocketed on the Paris Metro. Luckily the hipster shorts I bought in a Parisian boutique were so tight, I could barely get my fingers into my pockets, let alone a common thief do the same.

Unfortunately, theft and scams are all too prevalent in most major metropolitan areas. Staff members at the Louvre actually went on strike for a day earlier this year, protesting the unsafe working conditions caused by thieves and scam artists. Bob Arno, co-author of Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Crime While Traveling, estimates about 70 percent of Barcelona tourists will be approached by a street criminal; of those incidents, about 33 percent result in the loss of valuables.

According to the US government, Paris, Barcelona, London, Rome, Amsterdam and Naples have the highest number of scam artists looking to take advantage of naïve or distracted tourists.

Travel expert Rick Steves recently noted some of the most common international travel scams and ways tourists can avoid them. Other advice to consider:

  • Forgo purses or strapped bags in favor of body wallets or buttoned pockets.
  • Leave fancy jewelry or expensive watches at home. Don’t flash expensive electronic equipment –- particularly iPhones, thieves love them –- around. Have the number for the local police department saved in your phone.
  • Keep your passport and other important documents in the hotel safe, after you’ve scanned or photographed them and saved them in a file-sharing app or program like Evernote or Dropbox.
  • Stay alert. While you might be tempted to buy that second bottle of wine after dinner, realize drunk tourists are easy targets.

What are your tips for staying safe abroad?

Gadling gear review: Pick-Pocket Proof Pants from Clothing Arts

Pick pocket proof pants from Clothing ArtsFew things can ruin a trip more quickly than losing your wallet to local thieves who make it a habit of preying on unsuspecting travelers. In the blink of an eye, your cash, ID, passport, credit cars and other valuable items, can be gone, leaving you scrambling to recover. To prevent these types of situations from ever occurring, the designers at a company called Clothing Arts, who happen to be travelers themselves, have created a line of pick pocket proof pants that make it nearly impossible for you to lose your important items.

Dubbed the P^cubed travel pants, Clothing Arts makes these garments for both adventure travelers and businessmen and women who frequently visit areas that pose a high risk for pick pockets. These pants (and shorts!) resemble typical cargo pants, with pockets in the usual places, namely the front and back, as well as additional pockets on the legs. But these aren’t your typical pockets, as you soon find out when put the pants on. Security is central to the design of the P^cubed line, and as a result each of those pockets can be sealed with both zippers and cloth covers. When sealed up tight, it would take a very talented pick-pocket indeed to gain access to your valuables.

These security measures mean that you can put your wallet in a pocket and without the fear of it being lifted. The pockets are spacious enough to accommodate most small items that you would want to carry with you, and the cargo pockets even expand for extra storage. Even cell phones and small cameras can comfortably be carried without worrying about them finding their way into unwelcome hands.

While we can all appreciate having an added sense of security while we’re traveling, the bottom line with any piece of clothing that we take with us is that it has to be comfortable. The P^cubed pants excel in that area as well, using a blend of nylon and cotton to offer up a relaxed fit that doesn’t hamper movement, even when taking part in active pursuits such as hiking or climbing. I found the pants were just as comfortable to wear around town as they were on the trail, which makes them a versatile piece of gear that can be used just about anywhere. That versatility is a big plus for travelers who like going as light as possible and don’t always want to carry a lot of items with them.
I put the Adventure Traveler Pants through their paces and was impressed with how well they resisted wear and tear, while also managing to stay clean. The materials used in making these pants are designed to resist the stains and dirt marks that come from typical travel situations, while not scuffing or tearing either. As a result, you end up with a pair of pants that you can take with you on a round-the-world trip that will look as good upon your return home as they did when you first set out. The fact that they are also quick drying is appreciated both while wearing them after a surprise rainstorm, and while cleaning the pants back in your hotel room.

If you’re like me, you probably have a few pieces of clothing that seem to always find their way into your bag no matter where you’re headed. They tend to be comfortable, versatile, and still manage to look good too. The P^cubed pants now fit into that category for me and are likely to be a regular companion on future excursions. I appreciate their comfort and fit first and foremost, and the fact that they have plenty of big pockets for storage is a major plus as well. Throw in the fact that they provide a level of security for your valuables that you won’t find elsewhere, and you just might have the perfect travel pants.

The Adventure Traveler Pants cost $109.95 on the Clothing Arts website, which is a bit on the expensive side when compared to other options. But when you consider what they bring to the table, you’ll realize that it is actually a very reasonable price. Not only will they keep the pick-pockets at bay, but they’ll also last for years, making them a wise investment for any traveler.

Wrist-strap your cash when you travel


As pick-pockets get smarter and quicker, it’s hard to avoid getting robbed when you travel unless your money is stashed in your underwear. It’s especially difficult for women as we always seem to want a purse/bag when we head out and don’t want to wear jeans — mostly just to keep money.

Which is why I was thrilled to find this wristband-wallet combo where you can hide your bills in funky punky bracelet form.

Newly introduced by Amsterdam-based accessories store – RoB – that specializes in leather and rubber products, the wallet is available in all sizes and a variety of colors and stripes.

CAUTION: The store is otherwise totally skewed towards male erotic and S&M products (so don’t freak out when you explore the homepage), but it does have some neat and offbeat items like this one. And, you can order and buy on line, so you don’t have to visit the store!