Backpacking is a very aptly named genre of travel. When you go on a cruise or a road trip, your travelling is defined by the mode of transport you will take.
By contrast, backpacking is named after the type of luggage you take with you. And quite rightly, too. Because when you go backpacking, your backpack becomes the most important thing in the world. It holds all your worldly possessions for the duration of your trip, ensuring you can get from A to B to C with all the clothes, books, toiletries, gadgets and other life essentials you need.
Keeping your backpack, and the property inside it, safe is therefore a high priority. When traipsing around big, busy, bustling cities hopping from one hostel to the next, or even sleeping in the great outdoors, you may not have the luxury of private rooms and safety deposit boxes.
Here’s a brief guide to the most important tips to follow to keep your property safe when backpacking.
Never leave your bag unattended in public
This should be a basic no-no for everyone these days. Not only do you risk triggering a security alert, but an unattended backpack is also an open invitation to thieves. Backpacks are designed to be carried, so just take it with you.
Be discreet with valuables
One of the unspoken rules of staying safe on your travels is to try to avoid looking as if you have anything valuable to steal. Ok, so this might be counter-intuitive when you have a huge bag strapped to you back. But the key principle is, avoid flashing around expensive jewellery, smartphones, designer clothes and so on so you don’t attract attention.
It is good practice to carry things like wallets and smartphones in trouser pockets or elsewhere on your person rather than in your backpack. Thieves will target bags expecting to find valuables, so keep the most essential things on you at all times.
Lock your bag up
Experienced thieves and pickpockets are highly skilled at getting into a bag and removing contents in a matter of seconds without being noticed, and will try even in crowded public places – even if you do have the bag on your back. Do your part by locking up any zip compartments with a luggage padlock. Travel combination padlocks are small, inexpensive, convenient to use, and will give enough of a deterrent to ward off most opportunist thieves.
Ultimately, if you are going to spend months away living out of a backpack, you have to have a realistic expectation that the worst could happen. That way, you can make sure you are prepared if it does. One of the most practical steps is not to keep all of your absolute essentials together. Double up on things like bank cards, lists of emergency numbers, copies of your passport and travel insurance details, and keep them in different places. Same with money, always carry some on your person and some in your pack.