Thursday, June 18, 2009

Safe ways to stash valuables

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.

Staying 'safe'

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 oc
casionally 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 ove
r-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.

10 comments:

metscan said...

Realizing that traveling has the risks you wrote, does make me unhappy. Naturally I´d wish to look my best ( not like a camper ) going out in the evenings. So what fun would it be to wear fake pearls and carry a plastic bag? I know,I know someone might brake into your own home any time. BTW, I heard a true story about a family on their way to their vacation house and having to pull up their car because of a huge transportation van. When they arrived to their summer place, they realized that there was no house any more. It turned out that it was their whole house, they had met on the road, and as driving aside,they had made the crime possible ;).

Deja Pseu said...

Thanks for the tips. I tend not to travel with anything super valuable other than a small designer evening bag. It never occurred to me that anyone would steal medication, but that's good to think about for our upcoming travels.

Frugal Scholar said...

We bought those little pouches you wear under your clothes--available from Rick Steves and LL Bean and other places. These were great stress-minimizers. I remember being on the metro in Paris, incredibly jetlagged. A pickpocket was trying to get into Mr. FS's fanny pack, which contained only a water bottle and a little change. His money and passports were safe and sound.

Duchesse said...

metscan: It's a puzzle, isn't it? I have a big, blingy "diamond" in an interesting setting, it works well.

Pseu: Drugs are a target, and its such a hassle getting new prescriptions on the road.

Frugal: I like the bra wallet better than waist wallets, which I find too hot. A friend wears the ankle wallet under her pants.

Anjela's Day said...

Or like my daughter saw her room mate last year in pictures online and SHE was wearing HER clothes and a couple of pieces of jewelry and her sunglasses(a graduation gift) She wrote to her and asked for the return of the items. The girl did return them next day. She just said sorry she had 'borrowed' them and forgotten to return them.
I like your ideas... for holiday or home. Thanks Duchesse!

flowers said...

I love your website, seriously. I read it daily via my Greader
pearls

Duchesse said...

Anjela: While at university I had surgery for my wisdom teeth. When I awoke in hospital, seven or eight friends stood around my bed. They were ALL wearing my clothes (no matter what their size. Funny practical joke that still makes me smile!

flowers: Thanks so much, the encouragement helps me to continue a labour of love.

cybill said...

Great tips, thanks Duchesse! I don't travel with anything valuable because I had it all stolen whilst I was away once (I think I've mentioned that to you before). I have to get over my heartbreak of losing my wonderful jewels before I start seriously building my collection again. Next time with these tips, its not gonna be so easy for the thieves!
Re the medication, my sister had her contraception pills stolen from her bag in a hotel in Las Vegas (put a bit of a damper on her second honeymoon ;) ).

lady jicky said...

I loved the idea about the curtains but.... thank god he found that ring!
I never travel with my wedding rings on or a good watch- they are duct taped to a metal craving tray in its box at home incase theives have a metal detector!! My theory is they will overlook a old steel craving tray in its mousebitten box and naturally it will beep as its a steel tray in there.
I have had one robbery in a hotel room in Hawaii. Why anyone would risk their job and go to jail over taking a bottle of Jean Nate that I put in the fridge to spray when hot and two cheap and glittery hairslides of my daughters I do not know! Nuts! LOL

Duchesse said...

Cybill: I do remember that incident, when you lost your beloved vintage pieces. Have you replaced any?

lady jicky: A novel and intriguing idea! My friend recommends TWO safes in one's home. That way, if someone is forced to open the safe, there is enough (old, ugly) jewelry and a bit of cash. The real safe is hidden behind some custom cabinetry.