Dummy Wallets & Protecting Your Valuables

Dummy or throwaway wallets should be a consideration when traveling abroad.  Carrying an old wallet with some cash – enough to pacify a local criminal (for most locations probably $20 to $60 USD) gives you the  option of surrendering this wallet and some cash without risking losing everything.  Ideally you should put some other paper in the wallet such as receipts but avoid having any documents with your personal information that could be used to track or locate you.

If confronted in a robbery situation you can surrender the throwaway wallet and the criminal will likely want to take it and get away as rapidly as possible allowing you to avoid losing your real valuables.

Even if you don’t use a dummy wallet another good strategy is to divide your money, credit cards and other valuables among different places so that a theft will hopefully only result in the loss of some of it and not everything.

Be cautious about securing anything valuable in the safe in the hotel room.  Staff can access the safe and its the first place someone will look.  Additionally there are methods for defeating hotel room safes.  In some locations the main safe in the hotel might be an option if you get a receipt as the hotel has some accountability.  In some places even the hotel safe isn’t a good option and alerting the staff you have valuables may increase your risk of being targeted.

Its best to leave unnecessary valuables at home and things you must bring like cash and credit cards can be dispersed in different locations on your person and in your belongings.  You can also consider putting some of it in a money belt or in specially designed security containers that are designed to look like other common objects (shaving cream cans,etc.).  The effectiveness of these security containers is debatable and they vary in terms of quality but they are an option.  Padlocked bags may provide some deterrent but any softsided luggage can be breached at the zipper with a cheap ballpoint pen and usually subsequently closed without leaving a trace of the intrusion.  Anyone given sufficient time to search will likely find where your things are stashed but many times the thief may not have the luxury of time.

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