10 ways to keep your backpack safe

In general, a little common sense goes a long way when backpacking. However, many backpackers are robbed every year while travelling. Unfortunately travellers do draw a lot of attention, and by some local standards they are considered ‘rich’. Theft does not just happen in poor countries, it can occur all over the world.

Fortunately, the trick for not letting it happen to you is simple – don’t present an easy target. Here are some easy tips for backpackers to avoid becoming a victim of theft:

1) When riding a bus, try to sit on the same side as your bag that is stored underneath in the cargo hold. If you are awake, watch out the window at stops which are not yours to make sure no one takes it as they exit.

2) While sleeping in airports, make a ‘lead’ out of some string or a clothesline. Connect your wrist to the bag while it is under your seat or sitting beside you in case you fall asleep.

3) Consider your country’s relations with the country you are travelling before sewing your flag patch on the outside of your bag. When a thief has to choose between dozens of bags, it may make yours stand out.

4) Carry a small bicycle combination chain lock in the top of your bag. Attach it to support bars when it is stored on an overnight train or to the bed frame when it is in your hotel.

5) Put small combination locks on outside pockets. In a crowded area it may be impossible to feel a deft hand unzipping and reaching inside while it is on your back.

6) Consciously pack bulk things on the back side of the bag rather than valuable items. If your pack is slashed by someone with a razor while you wear it, all they will get is a handful of dirty underwear. This makes sense for not putting weight away from your body and for padding the contents inside as well.

7) Carry less! Its true, a fat rucksack is a fat target. Also, you will not be tempted to leave it behind so much if the bag is less of a burden.

8) Don’t look like a target. Leave the designer goods behind. If you present an image of wealth, someone will be very interested in your bag.

9) Avoid carrying bags that declare what is inside. Any thief that sees ‘Kodak’ on a bag knows that an expensive camera is probably inside. The same thing goes for using laptop bags as a daybag. Sew a patch over the logo or put some duct tape over it to make it look less appealing to thieves.

10) While you travel, your backpack is your home. Always be aware of where it is and try to keep it close.

Don’t forget your cheap backpacker travel insurance!
You can purchase great value backpackers insurance direct at 24/7 travel insurance. For a 2-month trip in Europe, will cost you just £13.52* – a small price to pay to really enjoy your backpacking adventure all the more!

*Premium £13.52 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual aged under 36 taking out a Standard Backpacker 24/7 travel insurance policy for 2 months in Europe. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (December 2009) and are subject to change.