Travel Comment

Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

As the boy scouts say - be prepared

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Dancing late into the night at a club in the Turkish seaside resort of Kusadasi, the whereabouts of my wallet was not foremost in my mind. I was with a large group and my bag had been thrown haphazardly onto a pile in the corner. The assumption was that one of our number would always be keeping an eye on our belongings.

My bag was still there when I went to retrieve it in the early hours of the morning, but upon trying to pay for a kebab down the road, I realised my wallet had disappeared.

There's not much worse than having your belongings stolen while on holiday. Finding yourself suddenly without clothes, toiletries or - worst of all - money, can dampen even the best vacation. In my case, I counted my blessings. The Turkish lira I'd transferred that morning were gone, as was my New Zealand eftpos card and driver licence, but by some stroke of luck I'd left my credit card behind in my hotel room that night. A quick call back home to cancel my eftpos card and a bit of account shuffling via internet banking the following morning, and I was back on my feet.

Not two weeks later, I was targeted again, this time by a brazen pickpocket at an internet cafe in London. My credit card, my new UK bank cards and my all-important tube pass were taken.

Being robbed twice in the space of a month shook me somewhat, but the most annoying thing was that both incidents could have been avoided easily enough.

After travelling fairly extensively for a year, I'd simply become complacent.

It's not hard to minimise the risk of becoming a target for thieves if a little common sense is applied. Unless you plan on making a large purchase, don't carry large amounts of cash on you.

Make sure you have your bank's emergency contact details somewhere so you can quickly contact them if the need arises. Leaving this number with other personal items such as your passport in the hotel's safe is not a bad idea.

Some guidebooks advocate keeping a second 'decoy' wallet on your person in case you're robbed but I believe if someone's planning on robbing you, they've probably been watching you for a while and pulling out a different wallet to the one they've seen you pay for your purchases with isn't going to do you any favours.

Most importantly, if you are robbed, try not to panic too much. It's unlikely you'll get your belongings back, so focus instead on cancelling your cards and obtaining emergency funds. That way hopefully the abiding memory of your holiday won't be the one bad moment, but the many good ones that follow.

- Eveline Jenkin

Have you ever been robbed while travelling? What steps do you take to minimise the risk?

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