One of the problems with backpacking in urban places and other places where there are people is crime. A backpack to a potential thief is like a picnic basket to a bear - a beautiful container full of treats. And if a thief really wants your your bag or a bear really wants your basket, they will get it. But there are many things you can do to make it more difficult for them to get at your stuff and less worth their while.
A few interesting ideas are visited at In the Bag and Off the Wall.
Physical Backpack Security
You should never leave your bag unattended to sitting freely on anything (floor, seat and lap included). It only takes a moment for someone to target your bag, grab it and disappear into a crowd or down an unfamiliar street.
Cable Lock used to secure backpack to bed, pole, chair, etc.
Lock Alarm Mini - Cable lock with alarm
A cable lock makes locking up your gear a cinch, especially if you mount on on the outside of your pack. And if you are very paranoid and don't mind annoying those around you, consider one with a built in alarm.
If you take your pack off, you should lock it to a bed frame, seat or even just run a strap through your belt or around your leg. When waiting around with multiple bags, you should run a cable through each bag so that they are secured to each other and preferably also to a fixed object such as a bench, table, metal fence, pipe, etc.. In places of increased concern, such as sleeping in open berths in sleeper cars in China, you should lock up everything tight, cable your pack to a fixture and use your pack as a pillow.
It's hard to beat a cable and real lock for jingle free security
It is important to note that in certain touristy areas, cars, particularly rental cars, are targets for thieves. Not only should you hide away any gear you have in your trunk, you should also chain it to the trunk hinges. If you don't have a trunk (hatchback, van or too much gear), conceal it as best as you can and chain it to your car seat brackets.
Chains allow for cinching items tight and jingles when moved. These can be clasped (shown on left) or locked with a lock
A small chain, cable or cable lock is a necessity for any trip where you plan to leave your bag(s) unattended, such as in a room, hostel, etc or if you plan to sleep. They are also really nice to have in/on your your day pack, as they allow you to secure your pack when seated or should you need to leave your daypack unattended for some reason - like during a nap.
If your shoulder strap unclips, you can use lock it around a fixed object. Hip belts also work when available.
This doesn't stop determined thieves but can stop a bag snatcher looking for an easy pick up
Locking devices are vital if are leaving your pack unattended. But if you are just setting down your pack while seated at a café, all may just need something which can be easily clipped together around your chair or table legs. If you have a pack with detachable shoulder straps, you can use these or your hip belt. Other devices, such as the I Lock You Lock, stroller clips (some are even lockable), stroller straps, a chain this clasp (Perslock), cargo straps, belts and the like are easy to apply and will make a theft more difficult and potentially embarrassing for a thief.
Stroller clips and straps
Some devices allow you to secure your pack temporarily without a key or combo. These devices are used to delay a snatch and grab and are not suitable for unattended security
In addition to loosing your entire backpack to a thief, you should also be concerned about the possibility of someone/something rifling through your pack. Pickpockets can be pretty crafty and only need a small window of opportunity to remove contents from your pack. When items of value are carried, they should be placed in your pack close to your back and not in the outermost pockets. This makes it more difficult for pickpockets and bag slashers to get to these items. Small pockets for electronics or document can be sewn to the inside or your pack to help with organization and protection of smaller items of value. When in crowds (train stations and night bazaars), you can also choose to wear your pack in front of you to make it more risky for a thief to get into it.
Make your bag appear less desirable
A brand new colorful name brand bag with international baggage claim stickers on it is more appealing than a poor boy worn out soiled pack without any well know labels on it. You can take even a brand new bag and make it look like something old and worthless at a quick glance. After choosing your not so flashy but durable gear, go to town by "upgrading" it for travel. Name brand labels should be removed or covered with repair patches. Then use spray paint, sandpaper, markers, dirt and whatever you can think of to get that broken in or artsy look. Stitches with white dental floss on dark packs gives that nice - worn out and don't have money to replace look you want.
Packs can also be stored in a plain duffle bag when in transport, such as at airports or when truck transported. This also protects the bag's many straps from getting caught in conveyor belts, on other luggage and the on many of the sharp objects your bag will come in contact with during its journey. A plain duffle bag is often easier to secure and offers better security than most packs with multiple openings.
NEVER carry a purse. This just makes thieves drool with want. They are generally easier targets than backpacks and much more likely to have valuables in them. Plus, haven't you ever wondered what ladies keep in those things? Someone might want to take it just of find out.
Slash and Snatch
One type of mugging technique includes the slash and grab. The assailant will slash a critical strap or belt and run away with your bag. You can decrease the incidence of this happening by using a backpack instead of a single strapped bag or fanny pack. A shouldered purse is a tempting target in itself and a hand carried one is an invitation for theft.
There are a few general approaches to dealing with this potential threat:
Use a backpack, preferably with hip belt instead of single strapped bag. This makes you a much less desirable target for this type of attack over others.
Slashproof your strap(s).
Don't worry about this sort of attack. It is rare and generally avoided with simple street smarts. You can recover from theft.
Walk around paranoid clenching your bag/pack while in crowds
Adding stainless steel cable to a strap will make it difficult to cutt
This is great for fanny packs, bags with a single shoulder strap and waist belts
The more straps you have on (shoulder and waist straps), the more difficult it is to remove a pack/bag from your body. Single shoulder strapped bags are less secure than those with 2 or 3 straps and single strapped bags should be worn with the shoulder strap diagonally across the body and not just vertically over one shoulder. When a fanny pack or single strapped bag is used, it is a good idea to add a metal cable to the strap or at least replacing the strap with a thick heavy duty one.
Bags with a single shoulder strap should use a strap reinforced with steel cable to prevent slash and grab attacks
Purses should use slashproof cables or preferably not be used
Thick leather and even metal chains have been used in some bags
Companies such as Pacsafe and Travelon make bags with steel cable already built into their straps. Their backpack designs may not not match up with your idea of a perfect pack, but their fanny packs, bags with single straps and accessory straps are certainly worth looking into.
Chain link shoulder straps are pretty slashproof
These bags are far too flashy to carry, but you get the idea
Slash-proofing a single strapped shoulder bag is generally reasonably easy to do, particularly since you can purchase Slashproof straps. And although slash and grab theft is uncommon in most parts of the world, a "slash-proof" strap might give you a little more piece of mind and perhaps an interesting DIY project.
These and similar strap designs allow for use of thick leather, thick webbing and steel cable reinforced straps
Trying to slashproof the straps on a conventional backpack with 2 shoulder straps can be challenging since steel cables don't bends as easily as plain fabric straps. Understanding the challenge, there are a few ways to make shoulder straps cut proof if you want to.
Some PacSafe backpack straps incorporate straps with a steel cable.
The strap is routed through a sleeve or multiple sections of webbing on the upper shoulder strap so that a portion of strap without steel cable can be routed through a tensioner at the top of the shoulder strap. This allows for a "slashproof" strap which can still be easily adjusted each time you put on your pack.
Slash proofing options for backpack with dual shoulder straps:
Use of straps with steel cables sewn in or thick cut resistant straps generally don't like the strap tensioners used on most backpack straps. These less flexible straps can be fitted to a backpack in a number of ways, but generally only allows for minimal adjustment. This isn't ideal of heavy packs, but may be acceptable for some applications.
Run the lower strap strap through a long sleeve in strap pad. Slash proof bottom half of lower strap/webbing but not upper half of strap/webbing. This allows you to use a strap tensioner at very top of strap pad to tension bare strap while protecting all exposed strap below the shoulder pad.
Slashproof the waist belt only. This is much easier to do and allows you to keep your regular shoulder strap setup. You can simply add a metal cable or chain to each side and link them in the middle. You can also replace the belt with something that looks more like an oversized trouser belt, which would be better suited for heavy duty material, leather or a steel cable reinforced webbing than the traditional side release setup used on most backpacks.
Retractable chain: Use a chain with shockcord (elastic) to create a retractable knife barrier. This can be used on your hip belt or even your shoulder straps.
Quick release snaps on fanny packs can either be concealed/protected with a cover and/or augmented with a lock/locking carabineer to make it a bit more difficult to unfasten. The strap on fanny packs (with or without a steel cable) can also be looped through belt loops and/or around your belt to make it more difficult for someone to unsnap or cut them and run. It is important to note that depending on how you route your strap, this can make going to the bathroom a bit more difficult - especially in an emergent situation.
Coiled lanyard designed for pistol security
One end of a lanyard (aka "dummy cord") can be attached to your pack and the other end to your pants belt so that if anyone grabs your pack from you, they'll have to pull you along with your pack. This can be a bit annoying at first, but protects your bag from grab and runners whenever you take your pack off (such as to when you need to get something from it or when taking it off to sit down).
Slash and Open
Another way for a thief to get into your stuff is by making a new opening in your pack with a razor or utility knife. This is often done in crowds at train stations or in busy night markets. It is difficult to defend against this sort of attack. The best protection against this type of attack if staying vigilant, packing items of value close to your back and perhaps wearing your pack in the front of your body.
"Slash-protecting" can be helpful, but even commercially produced "slash-proof" packs have weak points - such as at the zippers. There are a few luggage type bags built with thick enough material to defend against most slash attempts, but they tend to be heavy and bulky and better suited for luggage carousels than backpacking. DIY slashproofing a pack is another option but difficult to do. The goal is to either use thick enough material to slow slashing, or to use cut resistant material to to stop/slow cutting.
Salomon Experience Pack
Many luggage type packs have semirigid backs and/or sides that incorporate a foam or plastic layer under a heavy duty nylon layer. Made to protect pack contents from the rigors of airport baggage handlers, they are often thick enough to resist a quick slash and open. Unfortunately, these packs tend to be overbuilt and too heavy for comfortable and extended backpacking use. On the other hand, DIYers can sew on thick nylon webbing in a mesh pattern or add foam or thin plastic to the inside of their packs to slow slashing. A rolled up foam pad or thin plastic sheet can add a bit of impact and slash protection to the contents of a top loading pack.
YouTube kBfVABIoYsU Plastic cutting board protection
Cut resistant materials such as Spectra will quickly dull knives and scissors and if thick enough and might prevent a hastily executed slash attempt. "White Widow" nylon with Spectra ripstop cords will not stop a fresh utility blade from making a nice long cut. On the other hand, 100% Spectra webbing sewn onto a pack in a mesh pattern will stop most successful slash and open attempts. This can be pricy, will add some weight to your pack and is very labor intensive.
The Ursack bear bags (Spectra or Kevlar) will stop a bear from ripping through them
These may stop a knife attack and can be used as a body or as a liner for a backpack
Kevlar is pretty cut resistant but can be difficult to work with. If used, it is often better to sandwich in between two layers of fabric than using it as an outer or inner layer of a pack.
McHale Dyneema. UnLtd +1 with 2 layer Summit Pack
Dyneema is another very cut resistant and expensive material. It is used in sails, fencing suits and McHale Packs in Seattle Washington can make a custom alpine pack with this and other materials. Likewise, a DIYer with a lot of time an funds can make a very durable and cut resistant pack out of Dyeema.
30L Daypack with 50feet of 1/32" stainless steel 7x7 cable sewn to outside of pack
Flexible stainless steel cable sewn onto a pack will stop cutting with a razor or utility knife and either slow or stop cutting with scissors. This is really difficult to custom modify a pack in this manner - but is doable if you have the time and energy to do so. Fine jewelers flex cable can be interwoven into the fabric itself, while larger diameter cable (1/32") can be either tacked down to the pack or covered in narrow webbing or tape. Again, Pacsafe and Travelon makes a couple of products with steel mesh in them.
If you are shopping for flexible cable, make sure that it is 100% stainless steel or titanium for strength, durability, and weather resistance. Cables made with many fibers (7 strands of 7 strands - aka 7x7 or more) are generally more flexible than those made with fewer fibers (3). Appropriate cable and wire can be found at hardware, steel specialty, bead and fishing shops/stores. Brake/shifter cables for bicycles can also be used.
Stainless steel mesh (chicken wire) can be used to line the inside of purses or satchel bags. Because if the stiffness of this material, it isn't ideal for backpack use. It can also be difficult to work with due to the potential of having a great many sharp ends, but these can be covered up with duct tape, ballistic nylon or other means.
Pacsafe makes a wire mesh made of 1/16" stainless cable designed to wrap around a pack like a fishing net. This offer some protection and will potentially deter most would be thieves, but may also get their attention. These are not light and do take up some space in your pack when not in use. When is use, it also makes it difficult to access your gear. In most places, these are not very practical but are an option worth considering for the truly paranoid who don't have the time to customize their pack or use a hard case.
One of the weakest part of a backpack from a security standpoint is the zipper. And even with your pack on your back, a skilled thief can open up a zipper and steal you blind.
Most zippers can be secured in a number of ways and many of these methods provide an easy and simple means to deter curious fingers. Read more about this on our Zipper Page and Zipper Security Page.
Top Loading Pack Security
Other than using a metal cable net, locking your pack in a duffle bag or locking the buckles or cords, one is limited in options for securing a top loading pack. Most feel that these packs just can't be secured, but if you really love your top loader and what a little extra security, you do have a few options.
Pacsafe TravelSafe 20L
Good for lining a pack
Travelon Anti-Theft Lockdown Bag
Great for securing cameras and gadgets
Travelon Lock-Down Pouch
Great for laptop
One of the ways to add true security to a top loading pack is to use a security bag to hold and lock up your valuables. When your bag is stationary, you can use a cable to lock the security bag to your bed or other large or immovable object.
On packs that use grommets at the top opening, you may be able to padlock two or more grommets together. If you don't have grommets or drawstring loops, you can easily add these to your pack. This method of securing a pack may not prevent diligent little sticky fingers from getting small items from the top of your pack, but this trick will make it more difficult to get into your bag (for you and others) and may slow down intruders enough to make it not worth the effort.
Dufflebag Lock aka Seabag Lock
You can also find or make a duffle bag/seabag lock like the one shown above. These have been used by the military and seaman for years and is tried to true offering reasonable bag closure, a sturdy grab handle and the ability to lock the bag to narrower poles or metal bed frames. A simpler and lighter weight version can be made from a bent rod or flat metal with a hole drilled in it. If you don't have grommets in the top of your pack, you can add grommets or sew on special loops (with or without metal reinforcement).
Adjustable Cable Lock that can be tightened and locked
A cable lock may work if the cable can be tightened up and locked in place. If your cable doesn't fit through the grommets or cord sleeve on your pack, you can sew on several loops or a separate sleeve for your cable. Note that some retractable cable locks seem to secure their cables in place once locked, but firmly pressing the cable release will often allow you to loosen or tighten the cable when the lock is secured. This is true for the Pacsafe Retractasafe 200 shown above but not for its smaller sister the Retractasafe 100. The Pacsafe Retractasafe 100 is able to lock its retractable cable so that it can't be extended and is sized more appropriately for locking the top of a backpack.
Pacsafe TravelSafe 20L
Pacsafe Wrapsafe security cable
Pacsafe has a few drawstring closure products which use a unique metal cord with locking beads on them. These beads allow you to lock the cable in place and are bullet shaped so that they can more easily pass through grommets or drawstring sleeves without catching.
Travelon Anti-Theft Lockdown Bag
Military duffle bag
The strap secures the clasp so that it isn't lost and can be wrapped around a fixed object
To lock the strap to top, run metal loop through base of clasp and then padlock to loop
US Army duffle bags and the lockdown anti-theft bags made by Travelon use a folding top with metal grommets and a locking loop which lines up and secures the grommets together.
Metal chain can be used as a drawstring as well as used to secure bag to a fixed object
A small chain can be run through the top of the pack and used as a drawstring. Once tight, padlock it in place. A ring placed the end of the chain will allow you to run the opposite end through it and be drawn tight, like a lasso. This same can can be used to secure your pack to a fixed object.
Padlocking the pack top to the pack is another option, but may take a bit of creativity. You can run a cable lock through a loop on the bottom of your pack and through the loops that hold your side release buckles on your lid. Or, you can add one or more grommet(s) or loop(s) (metal or fabric) to your pack's lid and lock this/these to a daisy chain or loop(s) on the body of your pack.
Padlocked closure in fancy handbag
Travelon Lock-Down Pouch
If you really want to be creative, you can also sew on a removable top cover with a lockable circumferential zipper which covers they top opening of the pack or even entire pack.
Cinch Sack Lockout Sack
The Master Lock Cinch Sack uses webbing with grommets to create a belt lock. This type of locking mechanism can be used to cinch up a top closure or be used to lock down a top flap to a pack.
Buckle Security (Nexus, Fastex, National Molding, etc.)
If your backpack depends on buckles for security and are traveling in places where security is a concern, then you may want to consider a different backpack altogether. But if you love your pack, there are a few things you can due to improve your pack's security. A cable lock with a retractable cable which can be locked in position can be threaded through the loops in your strap as well as webbing on your pack to close things tight. If you don't have webbing or loops where you want them, you can sew on some "D" rings to create anchor points for your cable lock.
Quick release buckles (aka side release buckles) are difficult to secure and even after being secured leave the pack venerable to a simple cut to the pack strap. Sakloc is one of the few commercial products out there that makes locking a quick release buckle easier. The Sakloc can of course be copied at home with a piece of flat aluminum (or stainless steel if you like), vise, drill, grinder and hammer.
Pacsafe Bucklesafe 100
Pacsafe has its own device for securing buckles and worth looking into if your pack depends on buckles for closing.
Lockable luggage Strap
You may be able to use a luggage strap with built in lock around your pack to help hold it closed. If you only need to lock you pack on a rare occasion, you may need to add some straps to your pack so the luggage strap stays in place. If you need the ability to lock up your pack more often, you can more robustly attach it to your pack so that it doesn't interfere with wearing of your pack. You can even sew it permanently to your pack so that it acts as an additional of even as a replacement strap.
Locking Side Release Buckle
There are locking side release buckles out there made for spas and hot tubs. These are not designed for soft backpack use, but is an option for those looking a a unique security device.
With the right combination of cord lock, cord and padlock, you can cinch up a top loading pack and lock it. If you can't find the perfect cord/cord lock/padlock combination, you can custom construct your own cordlock out of metal tubbing, inner rod and a spring.
Locking Cord Lock
You can also drill a padlock hole in the middle of a wheel type cord lock to lock the wheel in place. To increase longevity of a modified wheel cord lock, you may wish to epoxy a piece of aluminum to the flat back of the cord lock.
Wheel type cord lock modified for padlock
If you are really crafty, you can build a hinged clamp which grabs the cord and holds it in place once a padlock is added. You might also be able to place a rubber spacer in the shackle of a lock so that you can string your cord through the lock and clamp it altogether when you engage the lock.
Jam lever camming buckle - easy to drill out hole or modify for lock
A jam lever is easy to modify for a padlock and is a simple way to lock up a draw cord.
Mail bag rope lock
A mail bag rope buckle (aka Metal Rope Clamp, US Mail Bag Lock, mail bag rope lock) is a great way to secure a draw cord. Add a padlock and everything is locked up in place. For added security, add a steel cable to the inside of your draw string. This makes it cutproof with a knife, but beware - once someone pulls out a knife to cut cord and find that they can't, they may just as well cut open your pack. It's easier to replace a cut cord than repair your pack.
Side-Lok rope clamp
There are various rope and cord locks used by mountaineers, high angle construction workers and the mariners which can be adapted to use a padlock.
A choker chain like this can replace some draw cords and many chains are made for a lock
You can also replace may cords with a smooth chain. A chain is much easier to lock and is more secure than a cord. There are also many other alternatives to a cord which you can used to secure a drawstring type opening.
Choosing the Right Backpack
There are many consideration you should keep in mind when selecting a backpack. Security and cost are only part of the decision making process as you will need a pack which truly fits your needs and feels comfortable on your back.
Most packs can be modified to allow for lockable zippers (see our Zipper Security Page) but some packs are extra difficult to secure. Because of this, it is generally easier to secure a pack with zippers than a top loading ruck. But if you want a bombproof pack, a top loading pack can be modified with a very robust locking closure and can more easily be made "slash-proof". Modifying a top loader pack will of course take a good amount of effort if you want a very secure pack.
Pack with lockable zippers
If you have no desire to modify/Jerry-rig a pack for security, worry not as there are many companies that design and sell packs designed for travel with security in mind. For most looking for a security pack, the number one security feature travelers look for is the inclusion of lockable zipper sliders. Drawstring packs are more difficult to secure and trying to do so will create too much fuss for most concerned with security. Well known travel pack brands are generally better built than surprise brands and will often ride better on your back and survive more check-ins.
A note on lockable zippers: Purpose made lockable zippers are recommended over zippers with regular zipper sliders for any pack which is going to travel through the airport or through crowds. Many travel sites and blogs recommend against purchasing a pack without lockable zippers. But truth be told, just about any zipper can be mad lockable with a cable lock, zip tie or metal cable. And although a purpose made lockable zipper slider is easier to use and "more secure", a zipper really isn't all the secure to begin with since a good hard tug on a locked zipper should rip something open and allow entry into a bag. The goal when locking a zipper is to deter opportunistic thieves.
Osprey wheeled travel pack with security point at bottom of pack
Besides lockable zippers, it's nice to have an anchor point for a cable lock which can't be simply cut with a pocket knife or ripped out with a good hard tug. Some travel luggage have these and most don't.
Popular Travel Packs:
Tom Bihn - no lockable zippers, but otherwise ideally designed travel bags
Tortuga - designed as a true travel bag made for air travel with hip belt and locking zippers
Minaal - beautiful Kickstarter travel pack
Osprey - nicely made packs and luggage with great straps and belts. On the Farpoint and Porter, the zippers are lockable and hidden behind a protective strap. This increases security while making frequent access more challenging. These are great "left in your room" bags.
Caribee - nice looking back with real shoulder straps and hip belt
Eagle Creek - great made for airport travel packs and rollers
REI - known for hiking style packs - so often more comfortable than other travel packs
Patagonia - Travel style pack without true locking zippers or hip belt
Goruck - no lockable zippers
MEI - Real padlock zippers
Rick Steves - cute travel packs designed by someone who travels more than most. He doesn't use locks for zippers and sympathizes with poor thieves. He also likely has lot of street smarts to make up for any shortage of paranoia.
Sandpiper Of California - great looking packs...if you like that SWAT team look
Intasafe Z-28 for the truly paranoid
Bag is covered in steel wire mesh and the top closes tight with steel cable which can be secured to an immovable object
If you are excessively paranoid or traveling in a place known for slash and grab, you still have a few commercial backpack options. Pacsafe, Travelon and other companies make reasonable backpacks marketed for just for you. You can buy one off the shelf with slash protection and locking zippers, but you might find that they are too heavy or feel terrible on your back. The extra weight of these security bags may be a drawback, but may also imply heavy duty construction and extra security features which you would be happy with. But do keep in mind that no matter how many bells and whistles a bag may have, if a pack is too uncomfortable to wear - it's not the bag for you.
Pacsafe TravelSafe 20L
Travelon Lock-Down Pouch
For those how love their less than secure backpack, you can pack a security bag or pouch to lock down your more prized possessions when you sleep at night or just have to leave your pack somewhere.
Popular Security Bag Companies:
Hard Case Packs
Now if you are carrying something that actually needs to be protected, like expensive optics, then a hard case provided unequivocal security compared to a fabric pack. There are few available packs which may suit your needs and many hard cases can be carried on your back with a special carrier. Many of these cases will also protect your gear from water, dust and being crushed.
B&W case backpack
Other gear which you may leave in your hotel room, camp, safehouse or other static location can be packed in a hard box. They offer great protection from the elements, creatures and some are waterproof enough that they can even be towed behind a kayak if desired. A hard box is can also be great to live out of if you plan to be in remote areas and don't need to hike in your gear.
Some hard boxes have built in wheels, while other are simply just big lockable boxes making transport down city streets and airports a little more challenging. Compared to fabric bags, these can weigh a lot which will likely factor in to planning and cost if you are traveling via commercial airlines. But if you are trucking it or flying by other means, then a hard box is great for security and can often be used as a table or chair.
Stickers are a security concern but fun
Hard cases also allow you to place stickers on your luggage or even paint it. This has its own related security concerns associated with this, but stickers and paint can be a lot of fun.
Hard Cases and Hard Case Packs:
Pelican - High quality waterproof cases used by adventures, motorcyclists and the military
HPRC - HPRC 3500E
Portabrace - PB-3500 Hard Shell Backpack
Zero Halliburton - nice metal briefcases if you don't mind drawing a lot of attention to your gear and looking rich
There are several things that you can do to make yourself less of a target.
Having a big bulky wallet in your back pocket is a go way of getting robbed. Only small amounts of cash should be readily available and bank cards, documents and other items of value should be put away.
There is a debate whether extra cash should be kept in a room safe, locked pack or on your person. If it is carried on your person, it should be concealed in a hidden waist bag, money belt, secret pocket, etc.
The first rule to footwear selection is the ability to run or fight. If you are wearing flip-flops, high heals, other similar footwear you are less able to chase down someone, run away or put up a good fight, especially if pushed to the ground. Whether you are going to chase down an assailant or put up a good fight is another story - but you don't want to look defenseless in the eyes of a predator.
Try to blend in as best as you can. Flashy outfits and jewelry will draw just about everyone's attention. Avoid bright colors and clothing not used by locals. Shorts, tank tops and convertible pants may seem appropriate for the weather in the country you are visiting, but may make you stand out like a tourist - and possibly one with a considerable amount of valuables (cash, jewelry, electronics, passport, etc).
Room doors should be closed and locked at all times, whether you are awake or not. Some rooms used abroad can be locked with a padlock, so it's a good idea to pack one full size padlock for this purpose.
Door Stopper/Wedge with Alarm
Uses adhesive tape or Velcro on undersurface
If you are concerned about the possibility of intruders visiting while you sleep, you can use a wedge under your door. If tight enough, it should slow or stop and intruder from entering. A good solid rubber wedge is generally more than sufficient, but there are also door stoppers with built in alarms. Some floor surfaces may necessitate the use of double sided adhesive tape or Velcro on the undersurface of the wedge.
When rooms are not occupied, or when occupants are asleep, bags and packs should be locked up and secured to a bed frame or pipe under sink. All valuables should be secured in a room safe or portable safe in your pack (also locked to immovable object).
Windows should be closed and/or secured.
There is some debate on use of personal defense weapons and you will hear different theories and preferences from the travelers you meet. Just having items such as mace, pepper-spray, stun guns, batons, knives and firearms can get you a enormous amounts of trouble in many countries. Some feel it is better to be robbed than deal with assault or contraband charges, while others feel it is better to deal with these issues than be robbed, killed or feel defenseless.
In a few parts of the world - an armed escort is required as a deterrent and for true personal security. Areas like these should not be visited by novice travelers on their own and should be avoided by most others.
Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about a place or someone, you should listen to yourself and take precautions.
You will undoubtedly meet interesting folks on your travels and probably make some great friends along the way. Most people are good natured, but you unfortunately can't trust anyone. Also remember that you are often just as likely (if not more) to get robbed by other travelers as by locals.
Professional con artists have to be believable if they want to make a living at it. Remember that anything that involves money or credit cards should be suspect. Even when purchasing items from "reputable" shops, one should be cautious.
Giving up collateral such as passports or credit cards as a security deposit can get you tangled up in all kinds of problems.
Illegal activities in the country you are visiting, such as drug use, prostitution and purchasing black marketed items can get you really tangled up in blackmail, extortion and problems with the local authorities. If you must, proceed with caution.
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