One of the reasons travel is so exciting is that we need to be vulnerable to experience it. You are going to a place where you don’t know all the dos-and-don’ts. You’re meeting people you’re not used to. You’re engaging with a culture and language that is difficult for you to understand.
This does, however, mean that you are at risk, and your valuables are the easiest target. Even the most careful traveler in the safest country can fall victim to theft. Fortunately, with renters insurance, your stuff is covered even when you travel abroad. But this shouldn’t make you complacent.
There are a number of steps you can take to protect your valuables, but a lot depends on where you are going. Here are the basics that you need to know.
Research types of crime
Many travelers research crime rates in a city before they visit. This is sensible, but it shouldn’t be where your research begins and ends. After all, statistics can be misleading out of context.
For example, you may see that there are high murder rates in Rio de Janeiro and assume that this is a threat you need to protect yourself against. However, those rates are heavily swayed by gang violence in the favelas. While you’re busy freaking out about potential violence, you may miss out on information about the prevalence of regular street crimes.
As such, you need to research what types of crime are common and what travelers in particular need to look out for. This will help you prepare for safe travel. Often, it will also provide the reassurance you need that your destination is not actually as scary as it sounds.
Unfortunately, the tourists most at risk of crime are those who are volunteering to help locals. This is because the people who need help are generally those who are most desperate. They see a tourist from a wealthy country casually carrying around items that cost more than what they eat in a month, who can probably claim back from insurance if they lose them anyway.
This is not a reason to distrust those you are volunteering to help. However, in these scenarios, do not become complacent. Lock your suitcases and keep your valuables in a safe if possible. Try not to flaunt what you have, including things like expensive sunglasses, smart watches, and, of course, your smartphone.
Think about how tempted you might be if you visited a billionaire’s home and saw something expensive, casually lying around unprotected. Now imagine you don’t know where your next meal is coming from and whether that would tip you over the line. While your wealth may not seem that great in the US, for people struggling in poor countries, it is on a whole other level.
Conflict and dark tourism
In recent years, the concepts of conflict and dark tourism have come into vogue. Conflict tourism refers to going to destinations where there is ongoing conflict, whether political, religious, or nationalist. Dark tourism refers to going to destinations which are either scarred by past events or in a constant state of troubling flux.
In these scenarios, you need to determine who you can trust. Generally, those providing you accommodation and tours are trustworthy and will be able to give you advice on how to protect your valuables and whether extra security is needed.
However, if you are intending on visiting one of these places, you should understand that there is risk inherent in them. Even if your life is not at risk in any way, you’re going to have a much harder time avoiding theft than anywhere else.
Travel requires a level of vulnerability, and that means your valuables are going to be less safe than they are back home. But it is well worth it if you prepare in advance, especially considering that, if anything does get stolen, you can claim back from your regular renters insurance.