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Tips for keeping your backpack safe

Now that you've invested the money in a good backpack for your budget travel and put your whole life inside, the worst thing that could happen on your trip is to have it lost or stolen.

Unfortunately, we backpackers do draw a lot of attention to ourselves in poor countries and there are people that make their livings by preying on travelers. Here are a few tips for coming home with your backpack at the end of your trip:

  1. When riding buses, always try to sit on the same side somewhere that you can see the cargo hold. Its common for people to take bags from underneath buses at stops.  In South America some travelers actually buy a large burlap potato or rice sack to slide over their backpack, making it look like just another local piece of luggage.
  2. Be very conscious when sleeping in airports or bus terminals.  If you can't use your bag as a pillow, make a leash out of some clothes line and connect it to your body.
  3. Be careful when putting your bag underneath your bus seat - it is common in places like India for the passenger behind you to pull it through to their seat, take want they want, then put the bag back.
  4. Put small combination locks on any outside zippers to stop a deft hand from reaching inside while you wear it.
  5. When packing, try to put the least important things around the outside. Bag "slashings" are common in Europe where a thief uses a razor to cut a hole - which is impossible to feel while you are wearing it!
  6. Carry less!  A fat backpack is a fat target, why draw attention to yourself?
  7. Don't wear expensive sunglasses, jewelery, and other things that might cause someone to think you have a bag full of goodies worth stealing.
  8. Don't let the brand declare what is inside your bag...a bag with an "IBM" logo just screams "laptop inside" just as "Lowepro" declares that there is an expensive camera inside.

Always keep your backpack close - treat it like your best mate and it will take care of you!  I get the best night's sleep when I lay my head on my bag.

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