Thieves are smart. They target travelers because travelers have money. But you can outsmart a thief — all you have to do is make it tough for them to take your stuff.
We can't say it enough: Never, ever put valuable items or cash in your checked luggage. Luggage theft happens every day, whether by airport employees or people walking into airports to grab bags.i Former TSA agent Pythias Brown, who was convicted of stealing valuables worth more than $800,000, told ABC News it was easy to steal from luggage, even bags with TSA-approved locks.1
The best thing you can do to protect your possessions while traveling is to purchase travel insurance with baggage loss/damage benefits. That way, you can file a claim for reimbursement if your bag goes missing. We recommend the OneTrip Prime plan, with benefits for baggage loss/damage up to $1,000
Keep receipts for anything you’ve bought specifically for your trip, and snap a few photos of your suitcase as you’re packing, to document the contents. Just make sure you know what’s covered by your travel insurance policy’s baggage loss benefit. Stolen cash is not covered, and there’s a maximum limit for high-value items like jewelry and electronics.
For your carry-on or personal luggage, you may want to invest in a bag with built-in safeguards to hide and protect your valuables. Travel backpacks from Pacsafe promise to be virtually theft-proof. Straps incorporate steel wire to deter bag slashers. Zipper pulls attach to security hooks to thwart pickpockets. And turn-and-lock security hooks allow you to attach your bag to immovable objects.
If you're looking for a smaller theft-deterring purse, Travelon makes cross-body bags with a locking main compartment, cut-proof shoulder straps, RFID blocking card slots and extra-strong Velcro closures.
The best rule of thumb: Act like a squirrel! Hide your money and travel documents in several different places, not all in one stash. Many travelers also recommend bringing a dummy wallet when you travel, which is an old wallet filled with expired or fake credit cards and some small bills.
Money belts and neck wallets — those flat, cloth pouches that fit under your clothes — are the traditional ways to carry money safely while you're traveling. They're meant to escape the notice of pickpockets and muggers, and the newer ones even have RFID blocking to keep your credit card and passport information safe. The problem with wearing one is that you end up fishing in your pants or under your shirt for cash, which may attract unwanted attention. Some travelers mistakenly wear money belts outside their clothes, issuing an open invitation to thieves.
Other discreet and clever hiding places for valuables and cash in your clothing and on your body include:
This is a classic traveler's conundrum. You want to bring your camera, phone, and cash to the beach. But how can you enjoy yourself in the water if you're worried about someone grabbing your stuff? You could ask a stranger to watch your things, but that friendly-seeming local may take the opportunity to steal your valuables.
To discourage thieves, tie your bag to your beach chair so it's not easy to grab. You can also purchase a travel bag with a retractable security chain, so you can lock it to a pole or tree.
Inventors have come up with some sneaky hiding places for valuables at the beach, such as the TanSafe. It looks like an ordinary SPF-25 sunblock bottle, but it's a watertight container that can hold your phone (smaller models), credit cards, keys, and cash. Similar products perfectly mimic soda bottles and water bottles.
If a thief lifts your entire beach bag, however, that sunblock safe won't do you any good. One of the oddest — but still effective — hiding places for valuables is a disposable diaper. Take your phone, cash, and keys and roll them up inside a diaper, then fasten the adhesive tabs. Voila: a hiding place no thief will touch. You can leave it on your beach towel, so if your bag is stolen your valuables will remain safe. There are a few caveats, however: This works best for travelers with kids, obviously, and there's always the chance someone will toss the diaper by mistake.
If you just need to hide your cash and room key, consider stash sandals. Made by Reef and other companies, these are flip-flops for men and women that have a hidden compartment big enough to store credit cards and other small valuables. Or, keep your valuables close while you swim with a waterproof case that hangs around your neck or attaches to your swimsuit.
Sometimes, your stuff gets stolen despite your best efforts. That's why travel insurance with baggage benefits from Allianz Global Assistance is absolutely crucial. You can be reimbursed for eligible lost items if your luggage is lost or stolen while traveling. And if you're the victim of theft, the travel experts on our 24-hour Assistance hotline can help you report the crime, get money in an emergency and replace vital travel documents.