I have been reading about travel scams and have learned that Ruth & I have been very lucky. We have been victims of minor scams while traveling but nothing major. We have been mugged only once, in Spain, and have never been robbed on the street anywhere in the world other than having a small suitcase with nothing of value in it stolen in a train station in Brussels, Belgium. We know people who have had purses and wallets grabbed and wrists broken, so I assume that a bold attitude, walking down the middle of any sidewalk as if you’re a local or at least understand how things operate, and failure to carry anything of value other than a small amount of local currency has paid off over the years. Ruth travels with no jewelry. The only thing of value that I carry is a camera, and this got me into trouble only one time, in Spain, when the thieves did not get my camera.

When I read about the trouble that travelers have gotten into while carrying cameras, I know how lucky I’ve been. I have been only one place where people on the street have told me to put my camera away, Montevideo, Uruguay. Now I know how camera thieves operate. Ruth was told by a woman on a bus in Rome how to carry her purse to avoid having it stolen. Together we have learned how to identify street muggers and avoid them in some places, and we stay away from destinations that have become knows for crime, like recently mentioned Brazil, Columbia, Malaysia, and South Africa, or we travel to such places only with a group.

Photographers are often crime victims because they carry expensive equipment or cameras. This will continue to change as phones improve, and travelers carry cameras less. Will phones become the new cameras and get stolen? I see more and more people only using phones to take pictures while traveling, but crime preventing devices on phones are improving. In the meantime, people who continue to carry expensive cameras around in risky places risk losing what has been photographed up to that point.

I have learned not to take photos of locals without permission, not to take photos of children if their faces can be seen, and to avoid taking pictures in shopping areas and near political protests and government buildings. I generally never have to ask if photography is forbidden because I never use flash and have instinctually learned where not to use or flash my camera. Spain helped me here, and now I know why honest folks in Uruguay told me to put my camera away. Motorcycle thieves prey on photographers. Crime avoiders recommend that you wrap your camera bag strap around a wrist and hold your camera bag on the side not facing the roadway to avoid a theft. Avoid brand name camera bags, and use a shopping bag instead of a commercial camera bag to tote cameras. Some advisors even go so far as to recommend wrapping your camera in clothing inside a plastic bag.

Being alert and avoiding dark and crowded places is probably the best advice. Tomorrow, other scams involving tourists.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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