Everyone knows that when you travel, you don't take anything you can't bear to lose. But what about when you're attending a wedding, for example, and want to wear a piece of your favourite jewelry, or when you must bring cash as a contingency?
I don't want to be a fear-monger, at the same time, I've had experiences I don't want to repeat. I wish I'd traveled with a few simple accessories.
Even a hotel room safe is not a sure thing, as staff can get a universal access code, some safes are broken, and the hotel will not assume liability.
You are usually told to bring valuables to the front desk for safekeeping. I was stunned to find that a five-star resort in Florida would not accept liability for over $500 cash or the equivalent value in goods kept in their safety-deposit box.
Since we are often at B&Bs or short-stay apartments without a safe, I occasionally need a way to disguise money, credit cards or jewelry.
That's All I Want
Money is the most common target. My friend Vicky had cash stolen from her guestroom at a friend's home.
One tactic is to keep money on your person.
The bra pocket is a DIY project that allow you to save your assets in your assets. It's removable, requires only the most basic sewing skills, and uses a scrap of fabric, a small piece of ribbon and one snap. Only drawback will occur if you are packing a big wad. The advantage is if you're safe, it is.
Less handy? Buy the Bra Stash Personal Security Wallet by Austin House in travel shops or from Amazon.com, $7.
If leaving cash in your room, you can hide money in unusual places. Bring a small ziploc bag and duct tape, and tape money or your cards to the underside of a drawer. A friend survived having his hotel room "tossed" in Russia by using this technique.
A diversion or hideaway safe is a great idea for travel. I have a a hair spray can like the one shown, with a false bottom, $13.49 from Amazon. My GF Jeanne keeps a similar safe that looks like a can of motor oil in her car. Of course this will not keep treasures from a pro cat burglar, but many thefts are crimes of opportunity and impulse.
Other recommended places are the hem of a hotel drapes, which are wide and easy to open by removing a few stitches, or the hollow shower rod in the bath.
This tip reminds me of Joseph's elderly aunt, who suffered a stroke while on one of her theatre trips to New York. He rushed to her side, and she kept saying "Curtains". He couldn't figure out what she meant, and she was too ill to tell him more.
He thought it had something to do with her critical condition, or possibly the theatre. When he want to the Waldorf, he stood in the room and thought, "Maybe...". When he inspected the curtains, he found her sapphire ring safety-pinned to the inside folds.
Medication on vacation
If you travel with medication, your drugs can be a target. Anyone on HRT does not want to have to try to fill a prescription in Solvenia, on a Sunday.
In some parts of the world, thieves will take even over-the-counter products.
If you have medication that will put you out of commission if it's taken, consider this PacSafe toiletry and medication bag. It's designed with tamperproof, lockable zippers and a strap that allows you to lock the bag to a secure fixture. $39.99 from PacSafe.
Secure your room
Before I went to Goa, my friend Jim told me about "Goan Fishin'". You would leave your room for the day, locking the door, and return to find your shirt, bathing suit or shorts missing. A tour of the local market might turn up your shirt, for sale.
Someone would have inserted a fishing pole through the louver of your window, and hooked your clothing. Nice catch! Now all you had to do was buy it back.
The worst theft I experienced, though, was in the middle of Manhattan, in a good hotel. A pair of earrings and handbag were taken from my room, where I had left them on a dresser. I didn't notice immediately, which hampered any investigation.
That's the reason for my post: in the excitement of travel, we can forget we're not at home. They're only "things", but losing something useful or sentimental takes a bit of the zip out of a trip.