Or: I Did NOT Leave My Wallet in El Segundo
I’m paranoid about losing my keys or having my wallet stolen, especially since I’ve lived on my own and faced the prospect of being unable to get into my apartment if my keys go missing. So I’ve developed some overly paranoid steps to minimize the risk of these things happening. Most travel guides and websites will give you tips on how to keep your things secure when you’re in a foreign place (get a bag that zips, carry it across your chest instead of at your side, etc.), but the truth is that the same strategies work anywhere, whether at home or abroad.
Step One: Run “Ready, Set, Go”
Every single time I leave my house, I run a “ready, set, go” check. Look in my purse for keys, wallet, phone. With those three things, I’m good anywhere I end up. The one time I didn’t check, of course, my keys were still in my bedroom, and that was when I lived in a place with automatically locking doors. Not a pleasant realization, when I ran the ready, set, go after I’d already let the door close behind me with a sharp click.
Step Two: Develop a New Plane of Awareness
The CTA posts ads with tips on deterring pickpockets, including a recommendation that you not check for your wallet in your back pocket, or run a finger along your phone’s outline in your purse, or in some other way indicate to a thief the exact location of your valuables. But I don’t feel comfortable not being able to check up on things, so I’ve developed a a system of constant movement that allows me to check on things without being too obvious about it; I shift my purse from one arm to the other, and do a quick tactile check on its contents, or open it up to take out my chapstick or iPod, and do a quick visual check that way.
Step Three: Be Lucky
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, since the very definition of luck includes being unable to control it, but I think it’s important to recognize the crucial role luck plays in keeping our belongings secure and our persons safe. There are a lot of steps we can take to protect ourselves, but sometimes thieves succeed or accidents happen, and all the precautions in the world can’t help in those instances. I mention this because I think it’s easy to blame people for not being careful enough with their things, and that’s not helpful. Especially when you’re traveling someplace new, it’s easy to get disoriented and lose track of your usual habits that keep your things with you, and if you get separated from those things, you won’t want it to ruin your trip. Do what you can to keep your belongings secure, but if misfortune strikes, remember that they are all replaceable, unlike the more pleasant memories you’re forming while traveling, so do your best to focus on those instead.
Any other suggestions?