Backpacking – Safety Tips With Your Backpack

Safety is always a concern when it comes to travel.  We spend so much time packing the backpack with just the right stuff, that the last thing that you want to happen when you are traveling in another country is for any (or all) of your stuff to go missing.  This post will cover some of the basics of backpacking safety, as well as looking at what to do if something does go awry.

1. Locks For Your Backpack’s Zippers

This is a very simple step to take but it can pay unbelievable dividends.  You can’t always see behind you (unless you’re a parent…  then you have eyes in the back of your head), so even the smallest locks can help protect you from the would be pickpocket.  We often think about pickpockets only going for our wallets… but the truth is, a backpack can often be an easier target.  Most people will sit in a coffee shop with their backpack just sitting beside them, and it doesn’t take much to reach in and pull something valuable out.  Spending two dollars on a crappy lock may save you a fortune, especially if you are traveling with a nice camera, computer, or any other valuables.

Look here for some possible backpack lock purchases.

2. Lockers

If you do have a day pack, as mentioned in the shopping for backpacks post, you are going to want to put your bag someplace safe while you are out on excursion.  You could take a chance and hide it in an alley way (bad idea) or you can find a secure locker location to store it for the day (good idea).  Some of the places where you would look for a locker are more obvious than you would think!  The first place I would check with is the Hostel or Hotel you are staying with.  Hostels will often have places to store stuff for the day (especially if you are staying there that night) and they can generally be trusted to keep your belongings safe.  The hotels are very similar.  They will often have a place they can store luggage for you during the day.

If it is a no-go at your hostel or hotel, then the next place to start looking is bus stations and train stations.  Almost every one of them (and there are many more in Europe than in the United States) will have some sort of lockers that can be rented for a period of time.

Finally, as a last resort, you might be able to find lockers in the occasional touristy location.  Museums or Amusement Parks sometimes have lockers (though they probably want your business first) but they are usually more expensive because of the location.

3. Where to Keep Valuables

We also want to look at where we are keeping stuff such as your ID, Passport, Plane Tickets, Money, etc.  You don’t want it in that small outer pocket that is easily opened and stolen from, so we really have three options:  1) the first place that you can place it is deep in the “big” pocket of your backpack.  It is slightly less accessible, but not easily taken either.  The inner pockets usually have a smaller compartment you can place items such as these.  2) If you feel uncomfortable placing it in your bag at all, you can put it all in your front pockets.  Make sure you have deep pockets that will easily hold your items. Avoid the back pocket while traveling because it is much easier to pick.  3) You can get one of these!  For those of you who are lazy (like me) and won’t click the link, it is a skin tight sleeve you fit around your torso (under your shirt) to fit your items in.  This is a very safe way to store valuables, but less comfortable for some.

What do I do if i lost my stuff/passport?

Great Question!  I’m glad you asked… Travel.State.Gov is a great resource for planning your travel and they have a page specifically addressing this issue.

If it is just your bag (you still have your passport) you want to go to local authorities and explain your situation.

It is a different ball game, however, if you lose your passport.

1. First, you want to call toll free: 1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793) from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., ET, Monday-Friday, excluding Federal holidays, and report your lost/stolen passport.

2. Fill out the proper forms and go to the US Embassy… They will help you there

It won’t be an easy process if you have lost your passport, but don’t worry either because you aren’t the first to do so!

Comments or questions?  Let’s chat below!

6 Responses to “Backpacking – Safety Tips With Your Backpack”
  1. Worth having a look at this link so readers realise the value of this blog (found it yesterday as I was looking at going to Barcelona, but having read it am now looking at Seville and Cadiz)
    It isn’t a private link – its from the city about the city. I understand that unemployment there for under 25s is just over 60% at the minute.Some wonderful places aren’t worth the hassle. For the rest – you do need your wits about you.

  2. Lynne Ayers says:

    In some cities I have seen people wearing their backpacks on the front – definitely not comfortable but, you know, when you’re on that packed train or subway car it’s not a bad idea.

  3. Bron says:

    Another good investment is a lockable cable, like one of these:

    Handy when there’s no locker in your hostel dorm (you can lock your travel pack to the bunk) or you’re on a cross country train journey and you need to leave your seat (eg to visit the restaurant car) – you can lock it to the storage rack above your seat.

    Also, it’s worth carrying a spare lock because sometimes you need to supply your own for hostel lockers.

    Good luck with the rest of your preparations and have a great time ion your big trip!

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