I see it all the time – backpackers walking around with their day packs on backwards. I get the logic behind this choice, they have been warned about pickpockets and thieves and feel that their belongings are a lot safer in front of them. However, should you wear your backpack on your front? It might make you feel a little more secure but it’s not actually such a good idea – for a number of reasons. Here are some travel security tips.
Should You Wear Your Backpack on Your Front?
It Makes It Painfully Obvious You’re a Tourist
Do people carry their bags on their front in their own home town? No, of course not. By wearing your backpack the wrong way you are making it abundantly clear that you are a bewildered tourist in a new destination and totally out of your comfort zone.
This can be a bad thing, because it makes you a really obvious target for scammers. Anyone who sees you will assume that they can pull a fast one on you. Also, you’ll notice that the price for taxi rides, souvenirs and other items gets bumped up when people see you coming. It’s better to fit in and do as the locals do.
It Lets Thieves Know That You Are Carrying Something Valuable
When thieves see you they know for sure that you must have something valuable in that backpack, like a wallet, smart phone, tablet, laptop or camera. Otherwise, why would you be carrying it in that way? It’s pretty much like wearing a big sign that says, “Rob me.” If an opportunistic thief has their eye on you and you put the backpack down for a moment, they might take the opportunity to grab it and run.
It Makes a Bad Impression
When you wear your backpack on your front it sends a message to everyone who sees you that you think they are thieving and untrustworthy. That’s not a great impressive to give when you are travelling in another country and it can affect the way people perceive you.
So What Should You Do Instead?
A better way to avoid pickpocketing is to keep your valuables out of the backpack all-together. Try to leave most things in the safe in your hotel room and only take what you need with you. Keep your wallet and cash secured in your front pocket, which is much harder for a thief to reach into without you noticing.
If you need to carry more, use a cross-body or shoulder bag that you can tuck under your arm. Make sure that you carry it on the side of your body that is away from the road, as thieves have been known to ride by on motorbikes and swipe bags. Or, invest in one of those backpacks with a zipper lock and slash-proof material. Whenever you are crowded public transit take it off and hold it in front of you or on your lap so that you don’t bump into other people – just don’t wear it on your front when you walk around!