11 Tips from an Experienced Traveler on Staying Safe in Big Cities After 50

October 20, 2019 By
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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.

Pacsafe purse for added 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:

  1. Make certain your cell phone is charged. Carry your charger and a portable battery so you always have a backup.
  2. Do not carry your passport in your purse, bring solely a photographed copy.
  3. 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.
  4. Leave ALL of your valuables at home. 
  5. 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.
  6. Locate the country’s Embassy in advance. Here is a link with every country’s US Embassy location.
  7. Use ATMs inside the bank and avoid ones on the street.
  8. Carry pepper spray. If you are unfamiliar with pepper spray, this one is beginner-friendly!
  9. Take a self-defense course. 
  10. Always trust your intuition; be alert. 
  11. 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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9 Comments

  • Margo says:

    I usually wear a cross body purse under my outer layer. Just recently in Europe I would put this on and then a ruana over it so my bag does not show. I also carry paper copies of passports, make sure my wallet does not come out of my purse easily and never keep all my belongings in just one place. We’ve been lucky so far. Also my husband never puts anything in his back pocket. On this most recent trip I had a ball before shopping for some “junk jewelry” and it looked great.

  • Lynne says:

    My husband kept his (Real) wallet in a front pocket and a (fake) one containing a couple of expired credit cards in another. That way he could toss the fake one to a thief and get away before the thief realized. Savvy guy!

  • Virginia Rice says:

    I don’t wear “good” jewelry when I travel, when I did a savvy woman in Brazil approached me and told me to cover my necklace with a scarf and cover my watch with my sleeve. Lesson well learned.

  • Denise Welker says:

    I carry ONLY the money I’ll use in a day and leave the rest in the hotel safe with my passport. If I’m pickpocketed, I only lose a portion of my travel money.

  • Nancy Goldsmith says:

    My favorite travel bag – uncuttable straps, locks and a zippered sleeve for phone (so you don’t have to open purse to get to it).
    https://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/anti-theft-medium-crossbody/342289?productid=10569583

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Thank you for sharing this bag. I looked at it and it is perfect. Will put it up on Honey Good one day when I write on travel. Warmly, Honey

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