"A ship is safe in the harbor...but that's not what ships are built for."
So far, we've technically been a victim of thieves twice so far. Both occurrences were non-violent, and almost went completely undetected by us. We were victims of being "short-changed" by two separate taxi drivers in Mexico City, one of the most populated cities in the world. Even though we thought we were being very cautious at the time, we were simply taken advantage of because we either couldn't spot a counterfeit bill or because we were paying too close attention to all the wrong details. We now chalk up the experience to life skills, and we have two counterfeit bills to serve as souvenirs to our misfortune in wonderful Mexico City. Here's a few tips to avoid being a victim to thieves and other tomfoolery...
- Avoid carrying expensive items around town with you. If you absolutely need your laptop or your DSLR with you while you're walking around town, keep them in a backpack or bag until the moment you need it. We bring our little point-and-shoot everywhere, and sometimes a guidebook. We often prefer to use grocery bags to carry these items because they're very unsuspecting to thieves. After Shannon had a pair of shoes pulled out of her backpack on a subway in Chile, we decided to invest in a lockable, slash-proof backpack.
- Ladies, avoid bringing your Dolce & Gabbana handbag even though there's always a knockoff readily available in the nearby market (it tells everyone that you have expensive taste). Avoid wearing jewelry...even a simple watch can sometimes make you stand out.
- Wait for the right moment to login. It's not always a good idea to bust out your iPad or laptop to check your Twitter account, especially when you're surrounded by the unfortunate. It's also important to be culturally sensitive...keep in mind that the locals often can't afford the toys that we're carrying.
- When leaving your vehicle unattended, keep your valuables in a safe place. At least keep them out of sight. If it's feasible, add a lock-box or keep it in your trunk where it's not possible for a smash n' grab. Most criminals are creatures of opportunity, if they see a bag or anything that looks like it would have expensive goodies they'll smash your window to take a closer look. Tinted windows can sometimes help, but they also increase the thief's curiosity.
- Avoid unfamiliar territory at night. We all know the freaks come out at night, in some places they're even freakier.
- Safety in numbers. If you're concerned about safety, travel in groups and you'll be less of a target. Avoid walking home from the bar completely wasted and all alone.
- Carry around a flashlight for night-time exploring. You can use a bright flashlight to quickly blind and disorient a would-be attacker, but you can also light your way home to avoid slips and falls. Brenton is an admitted gear-nerd, so he always carries a tiny flashlight and a keychain light. Both of these tiny LED flashlights pack a punch.
This is all common sense anywhere in the world, even in your hometown or Chicago. It's a sad fact, but there are millions of people in the world who are willing to do anything for a quick buck, don't make their lives easy by presenting them the perfect opportunity. If the thought of traveling the world still scares you, then lock all your doors and hide inside of your secure zombie shelter at home…we'll be out enjoying life!