Be aware of pickpockets

Do not make these mistakes on your travels abroad:

  • Not using a money belt for valuables.
  • Counting money in public.
  • Not carrying a backpack on your chest.
  • Not paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Wearing expensive jewelry. Leave your jewelry at home.
  • Charging your electronics at the airport, and walking away for a few minutes.
  • Leaving your bag on the back of a chair – easy pickings.
  • Hanging your bag on the back of the toilet stall door.
  • Leaving your personal information and documents in your checked bags.
  • Packing anything of value in your checked luggage.
  • Advertising on Facebook or Twitter that you are on vacation.
  • Be aware of pickpockets anywhere you go.

Mistakes I made in Lisbon

I pride myself on being an experienced traveler. But despite all my multiple trips, solo or with groups, I made two stupid mistakes in Lisbon, Portugal.

I prepared for the journey well. I got the tickets, read several travel books, packed carefully. In one of the books, I knew that pickpockets target tourists who are boarding the bus at the airport.

I was tired after the sleepless night on the plane. Instead of slowing down and collecting my thoughts, I was in a hurry to get on the bus.

First mistake: I did not use the money belt before leaving the plane

In the past, before getting off the plane, I always went to the restroom to put

cash in the money belt and hide it under my jeans. However, this time I did not do it. I decided to use money belt after checking in the hotel.

Second mistake: I counted money in public

I changed some dollars into euros at the airport. At the currency exchange,  I took the envelope with all my cash from the backpack, without thinking that someone might see. There were lots of people around me, but I didn’t pay any attention to my surroundings.

Third mistake: I did not hide money properly

I returned the envelope with all my money to the backpack. For some reason, instead of hiding the envelope on the bottom of the bag, I hurriedly put it on the very top, just under the zipper.

Fourth mistake: I did not hang the backpack on my chest

All travel books advise hanging the backpack on your chest. It makes a lot of sense: we all keep our valuables, such as passports and money in the backpacks, not in carry-ons. On that day I did not follow this important suggestion. With the valuables on my back, I  ran to the bus which would take me to the city center. From the bus stop schedule I found out that those buses run every 15-20 minutes, so there was no reason for me to be in a rush.

Fifth mistake: I did not pay attention to people behind me while boarding the bus

There was a small crowd of people at the bus stop. When the bus arrived, everybody tried to be first to board. I did not pay much attention to some people behind who were pushing me inside the bus.

The result of my mistakes

Following a short rest at the hotel, I decided to put my money in the safe. The envelope with $1,000 was not in my backpack. I immediately understood what happened: someone followed me from the currency exchange counter to the bus stop and stole money from my

Pickpockets love reaching into backpacks.

Keep your backpack on your chest

backpack while I was boarding the crowded bus. I was mad at myself for making all those mistakes.

 

Luckily I still had some euros left, and I had my credit card for the ATM. But what if I would put my passport in that envelope? Loss of the passport would ruin my whole trip.

Another mistake in Lisbon

You would think that I learned my lesson during that trip, right? Wrong! The day before I had to leave Lisbon  I decided to go to a big mall, to walk inside, eat, watch people. There was nothing else to do on that cold, rainy day.

After walking all around this beautiful mall, I wanted to have some coffee and read.  I sat in a comfortable chair in the food court, put sugar in my coffee and opened the backpack. Guess what? My precious E-book was gone!

Keep your wallet out of sight.

Easy target for pickpocketers

I couldn’t believe it! I started thinking how could it have happened and realized that someone stole it while I was standing in line to buy a metro ticket to go to the mall. I remembered that there were people in line behind me, and someone slightly pressed on my backpack which was… on my back. I turned around to see who was behind me. Two young men talked to each other, not paying attention to me. They looked so innocent!

Pay attention to your surroundings

Be especially careful after you left the plane after a sleepless night. Do not rush. Slow down. Concentrate. It is the time when you are most vulnerable. Be aware of pickpockets abroad.

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