If you live in or travel to a big city like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Chicago, Sydney or Berlin, you’ll quickly have to gain your street smarts. Unfortunately, I have a feeling one of the last things on your to-do list is reading up on staying safe in a big city after the age of 50.
As you plan your travel adventure, I know you are thinking about how to avoid overpacking. Or if you are planning on going out for the day, you are making a list of things you need, deciding where to make a lunch reservation with a friend or phoning your manicurist as you race out for a manicure late. I really believe the last thing most people prepare for–and the most important–is their safety in a big city.
Shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York
I decided to muse on the topic because I am off to New York next week with my ultimate concierge who has a meeting at the United Nations on worldwide affordable housing.
I recall a shocking experience I had in New York on Fifth Avenue as I walked down the street with my husband on a beautiful sunny fall day. Fifth Avenue was packed with smiling pedestrians and we looked forward to a day of shopping and an evening at the theatre.
I was wearing a crossbody handbag that fell to my waist. As we walked down the street, I felt a nudge against the right side of my body, the side where my purse hung. Naturally, I glanced down when I felt the nudge and automatically stepped closer to my husband.
I then looked down and up as I watched a little woman dwarf run away! My purse was at the exact level for her to open my purse and rob me. Fortunately, the purse had two flaps with two claps; as soon as she opened the outer clasp, I naturally moved towards my husband and honesty won over dishonesty!
While she was clever, she wasn’t clever enough, as I purposely use that handbag when traveling. So, my darlings, when traveling to large cities, I recommend carefully selecting a purse that provides double security.
En Route to Sacre Coeur
My husband and I boarded the train from the center of the city to travel to Sacre Coeur. We were the last to board, my husband behind me. He felt a nudge and swiftly swung around. Three young men jumped off the train just as the doors were about to close. They attempted to steal my husband’s credit card case from his back pocket.
My husband, a street-savvy guy, felt the nudge and instantly knew what was about to transpire. I watched the whole ordeal as my ultimate concierge swirled around. Those young guys never suspected who they were dealing with and my husband was more than prepared to handle the situation.
Unexpected Happenings in The City of Light
On another trip, my girlfriend and I were walking down the street in Paris. It had just turned dark on a beautiful winter evening with lights aglow in the City of Light. That did not stop a thief from pickpocketing my girlfriend as we waited for a stoplight. He took all of her identification: her credit cards, driver’s license, and money.
We hurriedly walked toward our destination, a small boutique where we knew the owner, a French Countess, at least that is what she told us each year we visited her shop! She was a great help. Although my girlfriend had to suffer the consequences, thankfully she left her passport in her hotel room.
My advice is to take a picture of your passport and only carry the photograph in your wallet. That way, you can leave your passport in your hotel room.
Similar Situations in Spain
Another friend of mine from Australia was robbed in Spain and her passport was taken. The robber cut the strap of her purse in half. The bag fell to the ground and the thief ran away with the bag as well as her passport!
Her trip was ruined. She had to spend time at the Embassy and wade through red tape because she did not carry a paper copy of her passport.
11 Safety Tips from an Experienced Traveler
Here are a few of the travel tips I live by:
- Make certain your cell phone is charged. Carry your charger and a portable battery so you always have a backup.
- Do not carry your passport in your purse, bring solely a photographed copy.
- Wear your purse in front of your body. I wear a small, belted purse around my waist and carry a lightweight, empty bag for packages. My important items including my identification, my credit cards, and cash are all in my belted, small purse. A few of my friends have Pacsafe bags that hide the zipper and include double hooks for protection.
- Leave ALL of your valuables at home.
- I always have my SafeSound personal alarm in my purse. It’s lightweight, small and the alarm ensures you can quickly notify those around you for help.
- Locate the country’s Embassy in advance. Here is a link with every country’s US Embassy location.
- Use ATMs inside the bank and avoid ones on the street.
- Carry pepper spray. If you are unfamiliar with pepper spray, this one is beginner-friendly!
- Take a self-defense course.
- Always trust your intuition; be alert.
- Dress plainly. You can still feel beautiful! Put on your smile and walk confidently with purpose.
While safety is certainly important, please also remember to enjoy your travels. Have a wonderful time on your adventure!
How do you stay proactive when traveling in larger cities? Comment with your tips below or on Facebook!
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