Never Take a Picture With Mimes, Here’s Why
It’s finally that time of the year again. You activate airplane mode on your phone and vacation mode in your brain. But hold on a sec, there are some things you need to be aware of, to avoid having your dream journey turn into a nightmare.
If you’re going to Barcelona or some other tourist hotspot in Europe, you’ll see some cool-looking mimes around major sights. They won’t say a word and will jump straight into your shot. You might get excited to post a picture with a street performer on your Insta, but this picture will come at a cost, literally. The second it’s taken, the mime will go from friendly to pretty aggressive, as they’ll want your money for the photo. The best you can do to avoid it is not to let them be in your photo in the first place. Change your location, give them a cold look, or loudly say, “No!”
What would you do if you saw a cool-looking guy selling coconuts in the street? Probably, take their photo. Or maybe let them approach you and be in that selfie with you? And, of course, if they offer you to try their coconut, you won’t say no. That delicious snack will come at a really, really inflated price.
If you don’t want to pay for their treat, the coconut master will follow you and demand money from you in an aggressive manner. Getting into a conflict in a foreign country is unlikely on your to-do list, so you’ll just hand them the money, right? Now that you know about this scheme that works around the globe, just avoid any interaction with the coconut people and don’t let your youngsters accept their “gifts,” either.
Imagine someone approaches you in a square full of tourists in Italy and asks what time it is. You naturally put your hand out to check the clock, and you’re immediately rewarded with a wristband. It’s supposed to be a gift for your kindness. But just wait, 10 seconds later, the giver shows you a sweet photo of their son and asks for money to support the youngster.
When you say a polite “no,” they get pretty pushy: “So, you don’t wanna help my son?” Normally, you can just give them the “gift” back and walk away, but many people won’t have the heart to do it. So, be aware of this wristband scam and decide for yourself if you’re willing to invest in this accessory or not.
Our next stop is in Thailand. You get a bit lost looking for one cool museum. A friendly local approaches you and informs you the museum is closed, but they’d be happy to take you to another one. Once you get there, it turns out it’s actually a store they partner with to bring tourists like you.
And if it’s a gem store, they might offer you some unique luxury gems that you can resell at a really good price back home. You’ll be unhappy to find out that these “gems” are worthless because they’re made of plastic. So the best you can do is check the working times of the sights you want to visit and see for yourself if they’re actually open or not.
Bring a proper bag on your voyage. Special anti-theft models will help you protect your valuables. Many of them are made with slash-resistant fabrics or straps and lockable zippers. The bad guys often grab a bag or backpack or cut the strap and run away with it.
Anti-theft backpacks will have a cable hidden inside the shoulder strap. It’s not so easy to cut steel on the go. Those secure bags also have secret compartments for items you cherish the most, with an extra layer of protection. It’s not easy even to find this compartment well-hidden inside. Unlocking it is a next-level task.
Don’t feel like carrying an anti-theft bag because it doesn’t go with your style? You can opt for an RFID-blocking wallet. It won’t have the same functionality, but it won’t let pickpockets steal your personal data from your credit card or passport. And in case you’re wondering what RFID is about, it’s the reason you can make contactless transactions.
A microchip inside your card has information such as your card number. An antenna inside the card sends data to the sales terminal. If the bad guys get close enough to you, say, in a crowd of tourists, they can scan your card with their gadgets and get your card number. And that’s where that wallet with a layer of carbon fiber or aluminum comes in handy. It will block the electromagnetic signal from your card.
Your phone and other valuables aren’t safe in your pockets. Period. Even when you’re listening to music, and you’re sure no one will grab your phone because you’ll notice it immediately — they will still do it. The same can happen in a crowded touristy area when you’re holding your phone in front of you, taking selfies, or filming the sights. It’s super easy for bad guys to snatch it and get lost in the crowd.
The same can happen when you’re driving in a taxi with windows down and filming. The car is stuck in a traffic jam or at the crossroads, someone on a bike drives past you or even walks by — bam — and your phone is gone with them. You sure can relax at one of those restaurants with an outdoor terrace, right? Yes, but never leave your phone or tablet on the table when you aren’t using it. It’s like a dream for any pickpocket. They can easily approach the table, grab your gadget and run away.
If you aren’t planning to overpay for a taxi ride, always choose authorized cabs and ask the driver to turn on the meter. If they tell you it’s broken, it’s up to you to still take the ride or not. If you don’t want to pay extra for going the longest possible route, preload a map of the city you’re visiting and ask your phone to build the fastest route. The driver won’t love it, but you can tell them you see they’re making all these detours on purpose.
Sometimes a kind-hearted taxi driver will inform you that your hotel is overbooked or closed altogether. They’ll offer you a different accommodation option. It will be more expensive, and the driver will get their commission from the hotel.
It’s time for a relaxing swim! But wait, what should you do about your phone, wallet, and other pricey personal items? You could do some research and find a beach where you can rent a locker. Another option is buying a waterproof smartphone pouch that you can swim with. It can also fit some other small but expensive items of yours. Just make sure to wrap it tightly around your wrist.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hide your treasures in clean and dry food packaging. Cans, bottles, crisp packets — there’s no limit to your creativity. For the most extreme solution, put your stuff in a bag, then hide it under a few layers of sand and top it with your beach towel.
You finally make it to your hotel room. And before you jump on that huge bed with a crispy white blanket — make sure you have a secret place to store your valuables when you leave the room. You can buy a ready-made secret stash hairbrush. It can hold some rolled banknotes, your jewels, or maybe a flash drive with some important data. The bonus part is that it also brushes your hair. Well, how handy!
Another solution is to bring duct tape with you. You might get some surprised looks at the X-ray at the airport, but trust me; it’s worth it. You can put your bills and jewelry in an envelope and duct tape it to the underside of your mattress in the middle. I mean, who will voluntarily lift your mattress and hold it for so long to reach the middle, right?
Another barely visible place for your treasures is... the shower curtain. I know it sounds absurd to you, but guess what? It appears absurd to intruders too. So, put your stuff in an envelope, duct tape it to the inside bottom of the curtain, and don’t forget to remove it before you shower. Happy Trails!