10 Ways to Avoid Petty Theft on Vacation

You love traveling, but sometimes when exploring a new place you feel off guard. You worry about being a victim of petty theft, or worse.

Fortunately there are steps you can take to keep you and your valuables safe on the road.

Check out these 10 suggestions:

Do pre-trip research
Research your destination before your trip to see if there are any safety issues you should be aware of. The U.S. State Department has country descriptions for travelers that include country-specific suggestions on avoiding petty theft.

Consider how you carry your money
Should you bring a purse? A backpack? A body wallet? SmarterTravel.com recommends that in places of concern you keep your cash, credit cards and ID in a secure place, such as a money belt worn close to your body or in an interior jacket pocket. Carrying a second, fake wallet can come in handy in case you are held up, the website advises.

Leave your valuables at home
If you have expensive jewelry or a sentimental item that you would be devastated to lose, consider whether you really need to bring it on your trip. Wearing flashy items or designer clothing draws attention and may make you more of a target. Designer luggage draws attention too. You're best off dressing down and trying to look like a local.

Lock your bags
You have to make you bags accessible to security at the airport, but when you arrive at your destination, consider locks. Beth Whitman, founder of Wanderlust and Lipstick, a guidebook series and website for women travelers, tells SmarterTravel.com you can use locks to prevent entry and a cable lock to tether your bag to something stationary, if, for instance, you're waiting for a bus.

Be aware of your surroundings
You're jet-lagged and in an unfamiliar place, but you still have to remain vigilant. "Would you leave your house unlocked? Car unlocked? Money lying around your bedroom?" Craig Bidois, principal consultant, Fear Free, a New Zealand-based security and safety management firm, tells SmarterTravel.com. "You need to maintain basic everyday security measures."

Map your route

Before you leave the airport or your hotel, know where you are going. If you are fumbling with guidebooks and maps, you look like a tourist and stand out as a potential target, the website says. Avoid crowds in general, and if you go to tourist areas where there are likely to be pickpockets, be extra cautious.

Watch out for cons
"Be careful about people who approach you," Bidois tells SmarterTravel.com. "Many are con artists or worse ... Use your gut feeling. If you think something is not right, trust your instinct."

Stay sober
Keeping your wits is key to safety. If you're intoxicated, you increase your chances of ending up in an unsafe situation.

Protect your hotel room
The front desk clerk at your hotel should not loudly announce your room number. Discretion can protect you from being a target, SmarterTravel.com says. And once in your hotel room, use all the locks. Bidois says higher grade hotels generally have better security, but you should still remain alert. "I never leave the 'please make up my room' sign out-this signals you are away. I do leave the TV/radio on as a gentle background so it appears I am still in the room," he says.

Don't assume the safe is safe
Before you leave all your valuables in your hotel room safe, ask the front desk who has access. If a lot of people have keys, it may not be your best option – you may be better off asking the front desk to keep your valuables in the hotel's safe.

Photo, jetalone, flickr
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