This post is also available in: FR
The event of the armed robbery in South Africa of the founder of our site Jean-Maximilien was not without reflection for many of us in recent weeks. Although the story ends without any serious consequences, I must confess that it has led me to make a few changes, especially for my trip to the same destination in a few days.
Although the view is beautiful (photo above taken by Audrey), I will avoid this place where Jean-Maximilien was robbed: beware of places where you could be alone!
As usual, many of you responded to the Facebook discussion threads on the topic of the safety of our objects and our person when we travel. One of our members also mentioned that he himself was born in a country where assaults are much more common than in Quebec.
Eight times, yes, eight times this member was robbed ay gunpoint or threatened in his native Brazil. Add to that a couple of other horror stories that have been told by other Milesopians about family members or friends who had no idea what was going to happen to them. Finally, that of another of our honourable members, Matthieu, who has just had his cell phone stolen in similar conditions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
You just can’t pretend it only happens to others.
But here, we don’t think about it much.
The Government of Canada is certainly warning its citizens to refrain from travelling to countries like North Korea and Syria… and we won’t argue. But it also has the same opinion for Venezuela because of the popular uprisings, which seems less risky for some travellers. Is it because of the beaches and resorts, or because of discounted flights? Yet one of our members, who is from Venezuela, has not returned there for eight years.
What surprised me the most, however, were the warnings towards two European countries that we happily visit: the United Kingdom and France. And that’s because of terrorist threats. Yes, there’s no denying it, but I wasn’t thinking about it anymore. Admit it, neither do you. Are we forgetting too soon?
Some French members also reminded us of the scourge of theft and assaults in big cities like Paris. It’s also like that in Rome and Barcelona.
Finally, at home, other members reminded us that office towers in downtown Montreal were prime targets for terrorism and that a simple stroll through the food fairs at lunchtime could become an opportunity to have one’s wallet stolen. The Rideau-King-Edward-ByWard Market corner in Ottawa around two o’clock in the morning is to be avoided, according to a Milesopedian resident of the region. Thieves, they’re everywhere. Let’s just say that as night falls, we become even more vulnerable.
But let’s stay positive and proactive, because we don’t want to stop travelling. Let’s become more conscious travellers and get into solution mode. All right? And let’s face it, not all of our travel destinations involve risk. Petstitting a cat in the Oregon countryside, surrounded by deer and vineyards, was rather quiet on this side.
So, without further ado, are our members’ suggestions to ensure first their own safety, and then that of their property. Nothing scientific here but ingenuity and common sense, with a touch of humour. Worthy of our group!
Our personal safety
Here are some recommendations to ensure your personal safety:
- Inform yourself in advance by reading, at the hotel or other accommodation (e.g., the landlord of the apartment) of the places and activities to avoid, day and night.
- Don’t always rely on your GPS, which could lead you to take a shorter but also riskier route. Keep control of the ship.
- Keep yourself surrounded and tell your loved ones where you are or where you are going.
- Use only official taxis.
- Hire a local guide that has good reviews or is linked to a recognized agency.
- Don’t display your goods; on the contrary, don’t bring any (jewellery) (or very little) and hide them. For the cell phone, which you probably need to take pictures, activate the automatic backup. So nothing will be lost in case of theft.
- Get creative to put away your money and credit cards. A little on yourself, a little elsewhere. One smart member reported carrying two wallets, one of which was a “decoy” with a bit of cash and expired credit cards. It was even mentioned that a little Canadian Tire Money could complement the content.
- And don’t forget: you’re worth a lot more than your possessions. Do not resist the thief.
Protecting your property at the hotel
Hiding places for money/credit cards/passport
Well you all are pretty creative!
- in the freezer/fridge
- in your pants’ lining
- in the backpack, locked or unlocked with a padlock.
- in a ziploc bag with velcro tape underneath a drawer.
- in the bottom of the suitcase; between its structure and the lining
- at the bottom of the backpack, in the dirty clothes bag
- and take a photo/video with time, date, year displayed of where the treasure is hidden… It would serve as evidence in case of theft.
- Photo on the cell phone, colour photocopy on yourself and one left with a friend.
- Hidden at the bottom of the locked suitcase.
- Passport left at the hotel for some, on yourself for others.
- Electronic copies on your email address
- All documents scanned (tickets, rental, passport)
Hide any tablet or computer whose data is in the cloud, of course.
- entrust them to the lobby (it seems that a little naive look on your face part could serve the cause)
- lock computer and cable with key and attach to bathroom plumbing.
Then there were some controversial suggestions, such as
- in the suitcase closed with a padlock or in the hotel safe. Because of the “YouTube” videos showing whoever wants to learn how to bypass the system using a pen for example, the solution did not seem optimal to us.
Then we came into some intense stuff, my friends:
- computer-wifi-Iphone connections to detect any movement of the computer from which the serial number was taken beforehand.
- A “Packsafe” protector for backpack or laptop that includes an iron cable. It can be attached for example to the lifeguard’s watchtower at the beach or to chairs.
- a Wi-Fi HD camera with night vision that can even communicate with the person in the monitored room. The thief would certainly be in for a surprise! Hmm.
And finally, the most original solution in my eyes, and oh! how inexpensive it is….
- “In diapers. And at the beach, in a diaper that’s rolled up like it’s been used.”
Finally, dear Milesoprdians, don’ t forget to find out the terms and conditions of your insurance, preferably before departure. That’s how Jean-Maximilien was able to get a $1,000 refund on his iPhone thanks to the purchase insurance of his American Express Business Edge™ Card (since it had been less than 90 days since purchase)!
So leave more informed but please, don’t deny your pleasure and travel! Word of a Milesopedian.
This post is also available in: FRCome to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!