Catch 22 Travel Tips
by Lincoln Yates
Essential tips and advice on how to avoid getting into sticky situations, protecting your valuables and keeping one-step ahead. Based on personal experience, having travelled extensively I have put together the following information.
Before you go
When heading overseas it is well worth doing your homework and researching the country, not only to discover the beauty and sights you will see but also its scams and health worries, there is a vast array of information available through:
Rough guides, etc
www.lonelyplanet.com (Thorn Tree) a travellers bulletin board, post and answer your questions
The rule of packing
Pack your rucksack with what you think you will need and then take half of it out!
You will not use or wear half the items you take The smaller the pack the better. I would never consider taking, even on year long trip more than a 50ltr pack.
Take a Small Pack
Should be able to lock the pack e.g. Travel packs have a zip all the way around and can be locked with a small padlock
Top loading packs can be locked with Saklocks or placed in a Sakbag.
It is so easy to open a pack if it is not locked and after loosing several items over the years especially when asleep or even in the few minutes when my pack is unattended due to the call of nature. Being awakened by someone rummaging through your pack is quite unsettling; so it always advisable to lock it.
A day pack or bag
You'll need a day pack (small pack or bag) it needs to be comfortable and big enough to hold a guidebook, water bottle, sunglasses, sun block, camera etc, also ideal for days at the beach.
Avoid bright colours, designer labels and it must be easy to wear on the front or back leaving your hands free.
When wearing your big pack or in crowded areas wear day pack on your chest).
A good money belt not too big in size, preferably with elastic waist band (far more comfortable when sitting) double sliders to enable the money belt to be locked with a small padlock when placed in hotel safes or lockers etc. Some accommodation, lockers and safes are not always as secure as they should be and traveller's cheque taken from the middle of your book are not noticed until it's to late.
Should be inconspicuous and worn under the clothes against the skin, only carry what is important Passport, travellers cheque credit cards, tickets and cash.
Tip - Hide $50 or so on your person for emergencies ie sewn into a lining, hidden in your diary, never in your shoe after a couple of months you will end up with a blank piece of paper!
Tip - Photocopy all documentation tickets, travellers check numbers, visa's and passport. OR Scan them in and store at your e-mail address so you can always access your documentation and print out.
Cable locks or Chains
When asleep on trains, boats, buses or your pack is left unattended it should be locked to a solid fixture or another pack
Many Scams, thefts and rip offs, happen in the first day or so!
80% of theft is opportunist
Try not to arrive after dark, if this is unavoidable book a hotel and have someone pick you up, or find a secure means of transport.
Gangs operate at airports, bus stations etc looking for new arrivals.
Check exchange rates.
Look confident and be friendly, a smile goes a long way.
Don't look like a tourist, dress down don't stand out.
Make things look old, Camera's etc Gaffa tape works a treat Thieves are like magpies anything shiny attracts them.
Don't wear jewellery
Avoid unlit streets at night. Carry only the minimum of cash when moving about.
Don't wear money belts on the outside of clothing.
Don't go into your money belt in public places and don't flaunt cash.
Worries when travelling
Where do you put your money/passport when there is no safe and the rooms or beach huts are not overly secure?
If you're out at night or on the beach you don't want to be walking around with all your possessions tied around your waist!!! The Personal safe is ideal for these situations its light, strong, and large enough for 2 passports travellers cheque etc. Its steel cable can be anchored to any permanent fixture or rafter etc.
Worrying if your pack is safe when you and your rucksack are parted i.e. your pack is on the roof of some bus with 20 locals and a couple of sheep. Chain or cable lock it to the roof rack yourself
Pacsafe: An adjustable wire mesh that surrounds the pack and again can be anchored to any fixture.
With a small rucksack you can usually take into the bus with you.
Dummy wallet with small amount of cash and an old credit card, for use in very unsavoury and dangerous cities.
If you use your common sense and instincts. Its very unlikely you will be mugged but if you are unlucky enough don't resist its not worth it!! Cash and belongings can always be replaced
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND THAT SIXTH SENSE YOU'VE BEEN DEVELOPING
SCAMS & THEFT
Moneychangers and the black market. The hand is faster than the eye
Organised gangs involved, Looking at your map guide book, a very friendly helpful guy approaches and tells you this is the best way to get to ----- You take the number 3 bus and get off three stops later bla bla bla. unknowingly you get on the bus to find to your horror that everyone gets off at your stop and in the congestion hands are everywhere and you are being robbed.
Pickpockets usually operate in crowded areas, bus, train, stations festivals etc
Somebody offers to wipe a strange substance of you, as the stranger wipes you with his handkerchief, either he or his partner will make off with your wallet or bag
A mother will ask you to hold her baby or something, now your hands are full other kids steel what they can
Someone drops a handful of coins you bend down to help and get your pockets picket If you are given a padlock to lock your hotel room, use your own or both Don't leave windows open at night especially if your on the ground floor
Be careful where you leave your Money belt when showering especially in shared bathrooms
Catch 22 Travel Products
These are just a few helpful tips that may help you have an incident free trip. Further information can be obtained by contacting Catch22 on 01942 511820
Images courtesy Joe Whitsitt