Dear Fellow Survivalist;
Last week, we were talking about making sure that you have the necessary survival tools and weapons to take care of your needs, even when traveling. I’d like to continue along the theme of traveling, talking this week about protecting your money and valuables while traveling.
As I mentioned last week, pickpockets and other criminals can spot travelers from a mile off… or at least from the other side of the plaza, which is a good proximation. So, the first thing you need to do, in order to protect your stuff from those thieves, is make sure that your head is on a swivel and you’re constantly checking six. They probably aren’t going to come around, if they think that you’ve seen them. Constant vigilance is the greatest security.
That’s probably not enough though, as even the most alert of us can be snuck up on, especially in a crowd. Therefore, we need to ensure that we’re doing things in such a way as to make it harder for any criminals to get away with anything.
Of course, they can’t steal what you don’t take with you. So, before leaving on your trip, make sure that what you’re bringing is what you need to bring. That means doing things like going through your wallet and taking out any unnecessary credit and debit cards. I travel with one of each, leaving the rest at home. I also make sure that the bank account attached to the debit card only has enough money to deal with emergencies. If I need more, I can always transfer more money into that account.
A great trick is to carry a bait wallet with you that only has a few dollars in it and some old, expired credit cards. Mine even has an expired driver’s license. If someone sticks you up, you can give them that wallet, which is in your hip pocket, where they expect it to be. Your actual cash and cards are in your front pocket, where they can’t easily find them. Giving up the bait wallet won’t cost you hardly anything, and by the time they realize that they haven’t gotten much from you, it will be too late for them.
I typically carry a fair amount of cash when traveling; but I don’t carry it all in one place. I have a certain amount of cash in a minimalist wallet/money clip, along with my identification and the two cards that I carry. All the rest of the cash is hidden, usually in several places they won’t expect to find it.
Speaking of the front pocket, you want to make sure that you’re carrying anything of value in front of your body and not behind it. Stealing a backpack off someone’s back isn’t hard at all and there’s little anyone can do to hold onto it, when someone is trying to steal it. Likewise, a woman who has a purse over her shoulder can’t do much to hold onto it if they cut the strap and grab it. She needs to have the strap cross-body, with the purse in front of her and her hand holding the strap right by the purse.
When it comes to valuables, it’s best to leave them locked in the car, either in the trunk or a hidden compartment. This is especially true of small valuables, like jewelry and electronics. Don’t take more than you need and never leave it where people can see it. Never have luggage sitting in the passenger compartment where people can see it. If you have a SUV, be sure to have a cover for the cargo area, so that nobody can see what you have in there. Few criminals will bother to break in, based upon the chance that there might be something there.
By the way, don’t count on the safe in your hotel room being safe. The hotel staff knows how to get it open. They have to, considering that a lot of people check out, leaving the safe locked. Housekeeping might not know how to get into it, but you can be sure that someone knows. How can you know that they can be trusted? You’re actually better off going down to the desk and asking them to put valuables into the hotel safe, as they have to give you a receipt for those items.
Leaving things in your room may be safe and it may not be safe, all depending on the housekeeping staff. Most realize that they’ll be fired if they are even suspected of stealing, which helps keep them honest. But don’t count on that. If you’ve got an expensive camera sitting there or some expensive jewelry, they may just decide it’s worth losing their job over.
Somehow, self-defense has to go beyond protecting your body and include protecting what’s yours. That’s just as important as keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.