Whether you are just taking the train in from the airport or are ready to tackle the public transportation system first hand, you need to know how to protect yourself when taking a train in a foreign country. Even in an area known for petty thefts, you can stay completely safe by using a little street smarts and following the tips below.
1. Never let your baggage out of sight. It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people place luggage in the back of a train car, completely out of their view. You always need to be in a position where you can not only see the luggage, but close enough so your ownership is clearly known. It is better to sit uncomfortably with your bag then to risk losing it by stashing it too far away.
2. Wear carry on bags across your shoulder and turn them so the zipper faces your body. In comfortable surroundings, we often let our guard down and throw our laptop bag or purse on a shoulder. This makes it very easy for thieves as they only have to rip the bag off of your arm, not your entire body. Sling the strap so that it rests diagonally across your body for extra protection. Also, turn the zippered openings inward so pickpockets have no temptation.
3. Don't sit or stand by the exit doors. It's the classic trick used by thieves everywhere: wait until the last moment before the doors close and grab someone's purse on the way out. By the time you even know what happens, a thief will be off with your bag and you'll be halfway to the next stop. Avoid this altogether by moving toward the center of the train car while holding onto all of your bags.
4. Watch others on the train carefully. You don't want to stereotype or assume the worst, but being alert is the first step in staying safe. Keep an eye out for people who seem to linger around you, especially in groups of two or more. This is not the time to give someone the benefit if the doubt if something doesn't feel right. Pay attention, trust your gut and stay safe.
5. Make a small investment for extra protection. Hindsight is 20/20 and you surely don't want to be in the position of saying, "If only I had better protected my wallet and passport, I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place." Something as easy to use as a t-shirt with a zippered pocket from the Clever Travel Companion could be the difference in being a victim or not. A small investment now is worth not risking the financial strain of having your valuables stolen in a foreign country.
Taking precautions is the best travel insurance there is! Travel smart and safe!
Flinders Street Station, Malbourne, Autsralia