Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Next trip- safety tips

If a few countries are involved in a trip, this usually means different currencies. I keep them separate by using little zip bags. Once I'm off the ground and leaving the USA, I quarantine all my US money into a plastic bag. I keep the bulk of my cash in the money belt and take some out for daily use which I keep in these zip bags. The loose change are kept in these bags too. I've handed some English coins to a French vendor once and he was really mad. There wasn't any need to be angry, just point it out and I will hand over the right currency. Now I make sure all the different currencies are separate and there's no chance of using the wrong one.
I love this canvas messenger bag, it's sturdy and can resist being cut off, I was told they grab and do cut off purse straps. The buckles are sturdy and are not easy to be pried open, it's deep and can be tough for any pickpocket. The whole idea is deter them and not be an easy target. Let them find other easy targets.

The proverbial money belt, the passport, the credit card, the ATM card and the bulk of the cash goes in here. It is not the most comfortable but it is safe. I remember we wore our money belt to an opera in Milan one year. That was our first trip to Italy and my sister and I were completely paranoid. While I'm not so paranoid now, I still take precautions.
It does happen, not just to tourists but also to locals, case in point, our trip last October to Provence (read about it in this blog). our tour van had the window smashed in and the driver's purse was stolen, the rest of our party had their bags in the back seat, we were coming back to the van and the thieves didn't have time to ransack the whole van. My messenger bag never leaves my body (only when I sleep), it hangs around my neck at all times even in fancy restaurants. If I had left it on the front seat of the van, it would have been taken.
Before each trip, I review these safety tips again and again. Msadventuresinitaly.com (http://msadventuresinitaly.com) has excellent tips on 'how to avoid a pickpocket' click here to read the article. If it doesn't open, click on her website to read the article. Even the comments are informative and valuable.
Don't be afraid to scowl or look angry at people who are suspect, especially when gypsy kids come at you asking you for the time or to have you read something. I usually wave them away, I don't even want them near me. With these precautions you can enjoy yourself even in crowded metro rides or on bus 64 in Rome which is so crowded and has a reputation of the worse pickpocketing anywhere in the world.
My next trip is in September this year and I'll be reviewing these safety tips again.

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