I always stress this: don't worry, I am not writing this to scare anyone since most travelers are perfectly safe an their trips. Constantly fretting about what could happen only ruins vacations. Having said that, the chances are that someone who prances around flaunting money, fancy watches and handbags with logos will be a victim of theft whilst the person who is prepared and has their gear and papers in order maximizes their chances of a safe, relaxed trip! So why not take a few minutes and make sure you will not be one of all those people (app 400 000 per day) who are pick pocketed on their trips around the world.
Here are the key things I tend to focus on before leaving on a trip:
1. Travel Insurance. Make sure you get travel insurance. In case you become ill, are in accident or get robbed, you must have insurance. It can be very costly paying for a hospital visit or worst case having to be flown home. Get good insurance! Look in forums such as the Lonely Planet's, there are usually excellent discussions going on there about travel insurance.
2. Immunizations: make sure you are up to date on your regular immunizations and also check to see what diseases are prevalent wherever you are going. Just as your doctor or check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for in depth information.
3. Money! Most countries don't require any special preparations money wise, you just bring a credit card and get some money through a bank teller upon arrival at the airport. However some countries aren't that up to date and you will still need to bring cash. US dollars always work. Just remember to hide them well, you may need a lot and loosing it can be a hassle!
4. Credit cards: which credit cards are most widely accepted where you are going? What fees is you credit card issuer going to take for foreign transactions? Check out a credit card comparison site to make sure you don't overpay abroad.
5. Medicin: make sure you have a small medicin supply with you with the usual band aids, pain relievers and antihistamin for any allergic reactions. Of course you can get medicin in all countries, but why spend time on that?
6. Embassy/consulate: If you are going somewhere more exotic so to speak, make sure you have the address and number to your embassy. Also, if you are planning a jungle hike or going off the beaten path, do register with your embassy and let them know where you are going and when you will be back, just in case.
7. Online storage for photos & information: get some kind of online data storage, such as Dropbox or Google Doc., so that you can access information (bank information, contact information, passwords etc) abroad from any device and also so you can upload photos from anywhere. That way you can always empty your camera and not loose any of your vacation photos!
8. Extra memory cards. Don't keep all photos on one card. What if you loose it and haven't had time to download them? get some extra and when they are full, store them somewhere safe!
9. Empty your wallet. Take everything that you will not be needing out such as domestic insurance cards, drivers liscnece in case you won't be driving at your destination, all credit cards you will not be using, gift cerificates and gift acrds, important receipts etc etc. Just bring the bare necessities.
10. Emergency numbers: If something happens - who are you going to call? Where do you call and cancel your cell phone, your credit cards in case you loose them?
11. Pack smart: Don't put everything in your checked luggage. Luggage does get lost. Make sure you have enough to sustain you at least one night in case you bag gets lost.
12. Backups: make sure you have a backup credit card, backup ID, backup cash etc. Don't put everything in one place in case you loose a wallet or get pick pocketed. Hide the backup stuff well! Who wants to spend an entire vacation trying to get money wired and trying to prove your identity just because someone stole your wallet. Bring backups and hide them well!
Remember, pick pockets never look like pick pockets, you will never know a pick pocket when you see him or her, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with and without feathers...