Imagine this: after a long, sweaty, tiring summer of getting up every morning at 4 am, to rush out in the morning darkness, alone, hop on your bike, ride ten minutes to the drop off spot, pick up hundreds of heavy, still wet from the printer, smelly newspapers, load your bicycle packs full, the bike so heavy that you, a short, tiny 15 year old girl, can barely straighten it enough to get moving, stepping on the pedals, heavy, heavy, careful not to fall over, yet finally off to the first, of many, many, ten story building where you deliver newspaper after newspaper, jumping at every sound, scared, yet determined, the night light clicks off, you freeze, caught in darkness, stumbling to find the light switch, always were scared of the dark, still are, heart pounding, what was that sound, running down the stairs, elevator up, one newspaper per door, faster, faster. One hour passes, you hardly notice, running, delivering, one paper at a time two hours gone, finally done, simply exhausted, hands black from the ink, sweaty, smelly, achingly tired. stumbling into bed, home, rest at last, so tired, eyes groggy, sleep until ten, then summer vacation, at nine, must sleep, so tired, every evening, all summer, every day get up, work, tired, exhausted, yet so very, very proud. You did it!
Last week of summer vacation the trip to London is on! Finally! The reward! Having saved every penny for the trip, all paid by your own hard earned money, to see every nook and cranny of London, taste the food, smell the smells, experience the city, bring home clothes that cannot be found back home, souvenirs and gifts for the whole family.
First day in London, overwhelmed, all the sights and sounds, at Picadilly, you reach into your inner jacket pocket to pay for some water. The wallet is gone. You frantically search everywhere. You jeans pocket, everywhere. the wallet is gone. All your cash is gone. Every single dime you slaved for, every morning at 4 am, all summer vacation. You, a 15 year old on your first trip, paid for all by yourself, stolen from. No money. No shopping. No nothing. You cry. Yet there is nothing to be done. You feel like such a fool. The pickpocket targeted you. You didn’t notice a thing. All your money is gone.
This happened to me in 1986. I was devastated. I was exhausted. Worst of all I felt so stupid. I could have prevented it. A whole summer spent working, and in a few minutes it was taken from me. In London I had no money to do anything. This was before credit cards, before easy Paypal transfers. I had brought all my money in cash. There was nothing to do. All my money was gone.
Years later, the Clever Travel Companion is my way of getting back and helping other travelers stay safe on their travels. I designed the Clever Travel companion's gear because there was nothing else out there that could fool pickpockets. I use my own designs everywhere we go! No one will target you if you are well prepared. Do not think it will not happen to you. Pickpockets do not discriminate: make it difficult for them at least. Before you travel remember:
- Keep the bulk of your money zipped up and hidden.
- Keep only what you need in a regular pocket or handbag. Pickpockets know where to look. If they target you, make sure the will not get much.
- Travel insurance. If the worst happens, make sure you are covered.
- Passport: have a photocopy of your passport, it makes things easier to get a new one, in case your id’s are stolen.
- Use your hotel safe. It is there for a reason.
- Don’t flaunt it. Any pickpocket can see you are a tourist. They know you have money to spend. You already have a target on your back, don’t make it bigger. Hide your valuables, don’t hang anything on the back of your chair, don’t keep your handbag loosely draped over your shoulder, don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket or outside pocket of your backpack.
- Watch out for over friendly locals ‘helping you’. Groups of pickpockets often work together, a couple will divert your attention, while another steals from you. Be aware.
Testing out our new (coming in October) two pocket leggings and one pocket tank on the beach in Seminyak, Bali.