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News, Interviews and recommendations from High Spirit Bags.

 

Filtering by Tag: city travels

How to Avoid Pickpockets in Spain

Josh okungbaiye

Although Madrid and Barcelona are both wonderful, touristic cities to visit, they are both listed within the 10 worst cities for pickpocketing. Here are a few tips to follow in order to avoid pickpockets ruining your holiday full of fun and sun in Spain.

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1) One popular scam in Spain is pickpockets masquerading as undercover policemen. They are known to approach you on the street and ask for your wallet. One thing you must keep in mind is policemen are unlikely to approach you unless your behaviour seems suspicious; and even so they certainly are wouldn’t ask to go through your wallet without showing you a police badge of his own.


2) Avoid ‘tourists’. If a random person comes up to you asking for directions, you are most likely going to try and help them out. As nice as this seems, you must be aware that the ‘tourist’ might have an accomplice using the distraction to pickpocket you.


3) Don’t get caught in a people sandwich. If you find yourself sandwiched between two people on the street, an escalator, or public transport, be aware that while the person in front may be blocking your way, the person behind you picks your pocket or backpack. In order to avoid theft, always wear your backpack in front of you and avoid keeping valuables in your pockets.


4) Don’t fall for the fake petition trick. Pickpockets will often approach people on the streets with a fake petition to sign. Whether you choose to sign it or not, they will ask you to donate to a ‘charity’ as a way of extorting money. Moreover, while the person holding the petition sign distracts you, pickpocket is focused on stealing your belongings. Therefore, it’s best to avoid strangers approaching you on the streets and asking for donations; don’t be fooled into thinking the money goes to a good cause.


5) Lastly, as fun as they may seem, avoid impromptu roadside games. While strolling down the street, you may come across a few people playing a card game on the footpath. No matter how enticing it is, refuse their invitation to join the game. One, they will cheat to make sure you will lose your money. Two, while you are busy playing the game, pickpockets may be enticed to steal your belongings.

10 Easy Tips and Tricks to Avoid Tourist Traps

Josh okungbaiye

When visiting a country you want to take in the culture, the food and the entertainment to create positive memories. Sometimes your positive experience can be tainted by tourist traps. Tourist traps are establishments or businesses solely for tourists where they overcharge you for things such as food, entertainment, souvenirs etc. They divert you away from cheaper, and more positive alternatives. Tourist traps are aware that you are a tourist and they are also aware that there is a high chance that you will not return. So they are simply after your money and care very little about giving you a positive customer experience. Tourist Traps are to be avoided, especially if you are travelling on a limited budget, but want to have the full experience of the country you are visiting. We know that some of you will be thinking of your travel plans for spring and summer so we wanted to help with your planning process. Tourist traps are everywhere, so to help you guys out we wrote 10 easy tips and tricks to avoid tourist traps. Here you go. Enjoy :-)

10 easy tips and tricks to avoid tourist traps

1.    Avoid High Season

If you want to visit a tourist destination, avoid high season. Usually this helps to avoid the dense crowds and also enables you to avoid long queues. 

2.    Use Public Transport

Figure out the metro or train systems. They are a lot cheaper for getting around. In highly populated tourist areas, taxis may overcharge for a short taxi ride, so if you want to avoid that, take a train, or bus to your destination. This will enable you to get a better insight into how the city works and will enhance your experience of the city. Also, if you are travelling with your high spirit bag, the antitheft zips against your back will take away an anxiety about keeping your stuff safe while you explore the city safely. As an added bonus, you will not need to worry about being caught off guard by pickpockets.

3.    Travel with Hand Luggage

Travel with hand luggage if you can. One thing to be aware of is that some taxis will charge extra for putting bigger luggage into the boot of their car. This is important to be aware of, especially if you will be getting a taxi ride from the airport to your hotel. When negotiating the taxi fare make sure there is an agreement on the fee before you get into the taxi. This takes away any possibility of unexpected fee charges. Also, before you arrive at your destination, find out the average price for a taxi ride from the airport to your hotel or the city centre. This is so you have that base figure in mind when negotiating the price with the taxi driver.

4. Avoid Restaurants near Tourist Attractions    

Avoid going to restaurants near tourist attractions, as these places will cost a lot of money. Also avoid the restaurants and bars that explicitly state that they cater to tourists. It is more than likely that they will overcharge and the service and quality will not be great. You can usually find quality restaurants on the side streets that are densely populated with tourists.

5.    Understand the Menu

Be aware of the menu costs. If you are not sure of how the costing works, it is best to avoid the restaurant all together. Some restaurants will overcharge on their service charge or charge by the weight of food or portion size rather than by a standard portion. Save yourself the extra stress.

6.   Plan, Plan, Plan

Plan before you leave for your destination. Get an understanding of how things are organised there. For example, are you required to tip? Are there any tollgates fees that you have to pay for in order to gain access to the city with your car? Etc. Remember that in some places you get free transport with your hotel, or a discount on travel tours. In addition, with your hotel you may also get a discount on restaurants, bars and entertainment. So take advantage of these when you can.

7. Book Tickets in Advance  

If there are any sites, museums or attractions you want to see that may require a ticket. It is best to book the tickets in advance, as it will be a lot cheaper and you will also avoid the long queues.

8.    Ask the Locals for Recommendations

Get recommendations from taxi drivers, security guards, doormen and the locals. The locals have a very good experience of their city so they will recommend their favourite places that will not be tourist traps. Just remember to be nice and friendly and they will steer you in the right direction.

9.    Ignore Hawkers and Touts. 

They will waste your time and lead you to places where it will cause you to waste your time, overspend and get a below standard experience. Always check beforehand to make sure you are getting the best deal.

10.   Understand the Local Currency

It is important to understand the local currency. Get familiar with the different coins, notes and their value. This is especially important if you are visiting a country where the conversion values are so vastly different. For example a meal in Bangkok, Thailand costs on average 800 Thai baht, but in dollars it is equivalent to about $25 dollars. The reason it is important to understand the currency is because sometimes some stores, restaurants, or bars will accidentally or even purposely give you the wrong change, which can you cause you to run out of your money faster than you expected. This very useful especially if you will be spending with cash during your trip. This seems so obvious, but it is often neglected and causes people to unknowingly lose money very quickly on their trip.

 

 

The Ultimate Guide To Prevent Pickpocketing

Josh okungbaiye

Travel is a beautiful thing and exploring other countries is a wonderful way to open our eyes and learn about the World in a fun and exciting way. In addition to enjoying the sights and immersing yourself in culture it is really important to make sure your stuff stays safe from pickpockets. Pickpocketing is a major petty crime that affects people across the world, particularly tourists. Pickpockets ruin people’s holidays so to help out we put together an Ultimate Guide on how to protect yourself from pickpockets. All the tips are below. Happy Travelling. Enjoy!

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(1) Stay vigilant in crowds and stay away from commotions

Whenever there is any type of commotion or a sudden surge of crowds, BE ALERT as it is the perfect situation for pickpockets to create a distraction for their target. It can happen very quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on your belongings.

(2) Spread your valuables instead of keeping them in once place

Put your money, valuables and important documents in different compartments and pockets. This is so it decreases the chance of all your valuables being taken away at once.

(3) Watch your bags and luggage on trains

Keep a close eye and hold onto your bags and luggage on the train/bus. Also check they are not accessible through open windows or train/bus doors because thieves will reach through and grab items as quickly as they can.

(4) Avoid rummaging through your wallet or counting money in public

This is important, so you don’t make yourself more visible to be targeted by pickpockets. If you feel you need to count your money and sort out stuff in your wallet or bag, make sure to do it in the safety of your hotel room.

(5) Keep purses/backpacks strapped tightly to your body

Tighten the straps of your bag to your shoulders or arms, this will ensure extra safety with your possessions as it will be easier to detect any tampering and it will be harder for thieves to snatch your bag away.

(6) Secure your bag to an immovable object 

When you are at a restaurant or cafe, loop your bag’s strap around the leg of your chair, the leg of your table or your leg. This ensures that thieves can’t come by and quickly snatch your bag. 

(7) Keep your phone off the table

Smartphones and tablets are very popular for pickpockets to steal. Many people leave their devices on the table while they’re socialising and eating, which makes it easy for a thief to snatch it and run away.

(8) Limit what you carry

When sightseeing you do not have to carry a lot of stuff. It is advised to not carry a lot of cash or valuables on you at any given time during your vacation. It will be much safer leaving it in your hotel room.

(9) If you have a heavy coat you are at more risk

BE AWARE because it will be a lot easier for a thief to insert his or her hand in your pocket without you feeling anything. In order to increase protection of your stuff, make sure you put your things inside hidden pockets and compartments. This is very useful for tourists that will be travelling to colder destinations.

(10) Put both hands in your pockets when in highly crowded areas

Keep your hands covering critical pockets such as your front pockets when in crowds to prevent external access to your contents such as wallets, cash or ID.

(11) Don't carry your wallet or smartphone in your back pocket

By putting your wallet or smartphone in your back pocket, it leaves you open to be an easy target for pickpockets. Keep these high valued items concealed and out of sight completely.

(12) Be wary of any strangers approaching you

Ignore beggars and random individuals that approach you. It is more than likely they know you are a tourist and their approach will create a smokescreen leaving you vulnerable to being a victim. Please be aware that pickpockets can sometimes work in twos or threes against a target. So if you are approached, please ignore them and keep going.

(13) Leave your passport at the hotel

Your passport is the single most important document you will carry on your vacation, so if you don’t need to carry it everywhere with you, just leave it in your hotel room.

Just for extra pre-caution, you can create photocopies of your passport and keep them in various bags and pockets.

(14) Keep your hands in your pockets when walking through large crowds.

Putting your hands in your pockets when you are walking through large crowds creates a blockage to prevent any pickpockets from slipping their hands into your pockets to take your small valuable items.

(15) Do not speak with anyone while using the ATM/Cash machine

While withdrawing cash do not accept anyone's help in making a withdrawal. Whilst typing in your PIN number cover the keypad with your free hand so the PIN cannot be viewed. Also, watch out for an extra card reader at the front of the machine or where you swipe your card. These card readers are called skimmers and can capture the information from your credit card if you swipe or insert it. In order to ensure safety, go to a bank and withdraw cash from the check-in section or get assistance from the bank employee.

 

(16) Carry your theft-proof bag

Pickpockets like to target people that clearly look and dress like tourists. One of the telltale signs that make a tourist a target is when they wear their backpack on their front. That lets pickpockets know that you are a tourist and you are unfamiliar with your current environment. In order to avoid this, you should get a theft-proof bag that has hidden anti-theft zips that enables you to wear your backpack on your back without worrying about being a victim of pickpocketing. The bags are also made of strong sturdy material that prevents slashing. Here is the link http://www.highspiritbags.com/shop

(17) Final Tip

Most people assume pickpockets are dodgy looking men, but a large number of pickpockets are actually young girls and boys — usually around 10-18 years old. Most tourists don’t suspect that a young child would steal from them, so they’re less defensive around them. Sometimes, pickpockets are well dressed and you’d never expect them to be thieves. So as you are enjoying your holiday, just try to stay vigilant and aware and you will be totally fine.