Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jan 16, 2013 11:13 PM Last Post By: bc_steve
Sep 22, 2012 1:29 PM
SafetyOk. My friends of travelling. I have a question about safety. The reason for asking it in the Mexico forum is only because it might be my next stop. But it´s a global issue; How shall you hold on to your valuables like passport, cash and creditcards when you leave your hotel/hostal to go out in the evening when you are travelling around the world not staying at luxury hotels,? I´m quite an experienced traveler and I have been to many countries in mostly Southamerica and Asia but I still don´t have perfect idea about this. Reading the guide books you´ll often get the advice to.” Not leave anything valuble in the room if it don’t have a safe box” (many hostals and budget hotes don´t have). Ore “ Never take valubels with you out at night”. If you should follow both advice you can´t put them anywhere if you don´t have a safety box in your room or at the hotel.. So far, I´ve tried to understand the safety situation in the streets of where I am, and make a decision for just that place. Sometimes I leave passport and credit card in room if I feel it´s a very safe hotel, sometimes I carry them with me in a thin moneybelt under my clothes. I have been lucky so far. What´s your opinion about these subject? Also, how is the safety situation on Yucatán nowadays?
Sep 22, 2012 3:04 PM
1When need be we use low profile under-shirt hang-around-your-neck pouches to carry passports, credit cards and some foldling money (which isn't often usually in crowded mercados with questionable reputations or on the metro). Even in budget hotels we find places to stash passports, and even some budget hotels have safes at the front desk if not in the room. Always a good idea to have a photo-copy of your passport when on longer trips just in case you lose the official one or need it along the way when your official one is stashed way somewhere (it isn't an official copy, but it does show who you are and has important information on it). In fact, you can now get a credit card size "passport card" which you can use in lieu of your bulky passport booklet in Canada, Mexico and Caribbean islands.
As for "never" take valuables out with you at night - my wife will wear her jewelry to dinners and shows and such - we only srtip off valuables when going into somewhat sketchy places like busy mercados, crowded bars or such.
Bottom line - lots of it is judgment call. We often just leave our passports in a pocket inside our travel packs (this is the most common). If we are conncerned and the room doesn't have a safe, and the front desk doesn't have a safe, I'll find a nook somewhere to cram it into (this is fairly rare).
The Yucatan is one of the safest parts of Mexico.
Sep 22, 2012 3:10 PM
2You've asked the 64-dollar question. No easy answers, not at all. Pretty easy to guard against theft, but not so easy to guard against robbery. I don't think there are any good answers for the bandits. I often give thought to which is the more secure, hiding things in the room or carrying them with me. I usually stay in modest/mid-range priced hotels and usually hide my valuables in the room in creative hiding places.
Sep 22, 2012 3:14 PM
3I have used various systems including the conventional money belt and even a pouch with elastic straps which fit around the calf. But I have found the best system is a flat pouch with a heavyduty long lace. You put the lace around your neck and the pouch goes down your front under your shirt or t-shirt. I put my passport, high denomination backup cash and the code information of my plane ticket.
I leave my laptop in my room and am willing to take the risk.
Sep 22, 2012 3:28 PM
4I wear an Eagle Creek belt that has a full length zipper for cash and utilize the office of the hotel for the rest. As the others stated if there is not a safe, I hide creatively….one place I use is an empty wide roll up deodorant container for cash in the room. My wife nor I wear any jewelry except our gold wedding band and I carry a “throw down wallet”. This is a wallet with a couple of cancelled credit cards and my cash for the day. If you are travelled, I am sure you have acquired your own tricks.
Sep 23, 2012 9:02 AM
5" So far, I´ve tried to understand the safety situation in the streets of where I am, and make a decision for just that place"
Maybe not # 5, and anyway it's a good subject to refresh. I do leave my laptop and stuff I can't lug around with the owner of the hotel as I depart for the day or night. I've been thinking about carrying a plastic coated 1/8" cable and padlocking stuff. But I'd need some sort of cut-proof bag to store my stuff in and then figure out where I could lock it to.
Uñados are pretty clever. I don't think I could find a place to just hide stuff that they haven't already figured out.
Sep 23, 2012 11:26 AM
6My advice is to spread your cash around so that if anything is stolen then you have some more somewhere else. Personally I carry my passport, credit card, large amount of cash in a money belt hidden under by trousers + a daily amount of cash and ATM card in a wallet in front trouser pocket (so when I get it out to buy something I am not exposing my main wealth) + photocopies of passport with friend/spouse + secret 'emergency stash' hidden in lining of backpack/suitcase contianing photocopies, cash and travellers cheques. So far in many years of travelling the only incident that happened to me was having my day-cash pickpocketed out of my pocket in Tangier which was not a big deal as I only lost a few quid. But I like to think that even if I was mugged at gun point and had to give up my money belt (which is pretty much my worst scenario), then it is very likely I would still have my secret stash to get me out of immediate danger. The main thing with my money belt is to try to never have to dip into it in public so nobody has any reason to know its there. The only time I leave stuff in my room (unless there is a proper safe) is when on the beach and don't want it on my person, in which case 'creative hiding' is the order of the day.
Have any of you read Papillon, to know his method of keeping money safe . . . :-)
Sep 23, 2012 11:44 AM
7In addition to what I posted.....I also email to myself my credit card numbers that I carry, contact numbers in case of theft, photo copy of passports, contact list for phone numbers of friends and any other pertinent information I may need to get my hands on in case of total theft. I can always access my personal email elsewhere.
Sep 23, 2012 4:10 PM
8Yeah! I can just see it! Use a Papillón® Charger in México. The first rogue produce or seafood you come across and, well, you get the idea.
Sep 23, 2012 6:22 PM
9In Mexico City, in the late 90's, when the streets were risky, I put a throw-away wallet in my pocket with an amount of money sufficient to convince a thief he had robbed me. The documents went in plain sight in my shirt pocket, tucked in trash looking paper such as store receipts.
Then, I took evasive action. I simply did not let any suspicious looking people (yes, you can spot them) get close to me at any time. If necessary, I turned and went back, or crossed the street, or simply walked up the center of two lane streets. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is essentially the same as defensive driving in a car.
So far, no robbery, after visiting many times over 29 years. It can happen at any time, though, and admitting that fact is the first step to avoiding it.
Sep 25, 2012 1:41 PM
10Re stashing in the room: I usually stay in places with no safe in the room and always leave my passport and $$ in there. You have to hide things in something that looks normal being there.... #4 mentioned a deodorant container.... or a hollowed out book... like that. I also stay in family run places and get friendly with the maid right away. I end up feeling cared for instead of defensive. Small daily tips for them are pretty good insurance too. The worst thefts I've read about have been in the big AI type places where it is very impersonal - even thefts from the safe - which are obvious inside jobs. I did scan my passport main page and e-mailed it to myself. Doing that with the credit card is a good idea too.
Sep 25, 2012 4:08 PM
Sep 27, 2012 2:45 PM
12Thank you all for sharing your experiences and opinions about this subject. Of course I have my own tricks #5 on how to keep on to my belongings, and they are quite similar to what you all have stated here. But it´s not always obvious how you should do, so I was just interested in your opinions. Have safe trips everyone..
Sep 28, 2012 5:49 PM
13If you are a female, get a purse like mine that doesn't look uber expensive (in fact it's a brand purse but it doesn't look flashy at all), that can be wrapped on my opposite shoulder around my neck. I used it to travel in Guatemala which has a much worse theft problem than Mexico and was fine. You can stuff even a towel in that purse! :P
Mexican authorities aren't passport nazis, they won't be harassing your passport every 5 seconds like they can do in Japan. I look as gringa as American pie and cops have never harassed me asking for my passport when I visit touristy areas. It's more likely a cop will want you to give them a 200 peso bribe if you commit something illegal like pass a red light (but will make the wording not seem obvious, but you get the idea). I have never been harassed like that.. though once a cop asked me for a free coke while he assisted traffic when a friend's car broke down right in the middle of the road...
That said, I don't see the point of carrying your passport everywhere if you are simply going out for dinner. Just put it in something cheap like a cheesy mexican gossip magazine and put it under your bed mattress or something.. or perhaps inside of the dirty underwear drawer in your suitcase. Most hostels have safes where you can stash your valuables with a lock.
If you are going out, just bring enough cash you will need that day and don't go to sketchy areas with flashy jewelry and an Ipad.
Sep 28, 2012 11:46 PM
Just remember to take it with you when you leave! (I have in the past more than once left various articles behind in a hotel room, including a camera,, (sent to me by hotel management) but never a passport. Knock on wood.)
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