There are so many different ways to get your phone stolen while traveling, and unfortunately, it does happen.
While I travel long-term, I am constantly meeting other travelers all day, every day. Unfortunately, a lot of my fellow travelers have gotten their phones stolen while traveling, and I almost did too. When you become aware of how thieves commonly steal phones, you can know how to avoid those situations so you can prevent them from happening to you.
Travel thieves are so clever and so smart. They target tourists because they know they’re an easy target. There are so many scams to look out for while traveling, one of them being phone theft. Other than the typical distraction-and-steal, bumping into someone, etc. there are other common and unusual ways your phone can get stolen while abroad.
Here are 5 ways your phone can get stolen while traveling and how to avoid it so it doesn’t happen to you.
The fast grab
This is a very common way people get their phones stolen while traveling. The fast grab occurs when someone is looking at their phone while walking, and someone on a scooter drives by and grabs their phone right out of their hands. Before they know it, their phone is stolen. Since the thief is on a scooter, it’s nearly impossible to run after the thief and get the phone back.
This happened to so many travelers I met. They were walking on the street, had their phone in their hand, and someone came by and took off with their phone.
To avoid this theft: never have your phone out while you’re walking. If you have to look at directions, pull over to the side, look at your phone, and put it back in your bag. When you’re standing next to the street where cars/scooters can drive by, never take your phone out. If you need to, pull away from the street, look at your phone, and put it back in your bag.
The table snatch
The table snatch is also a very common way people get their phones stolen. This almost happened to me as well. It’s so easy to accidentally put yourself in this situation.
Whenever you look at your phone, check your text messages or social media, or take pictures of your food, it’s so easy to put your phone on the table afterward. However, when you put your phone on the table, especially when eating outside, someone can easily walk by your table and snatch your phone.
Putting your phone on the table is such an innocent thing to do and something you probably do a lot back home. But when traveling abroad, you have to be careful as this is a common way people get their phones stolen.
To avoid this theft: put your phone in your bag and never leave your phone on the table. You can also sit inside the restaurant or sit further away from the walking traffic.
The untrustworthy roommate
Ah… I see this far too often and is something you should be mindful of. When you’re sharing a room with someone (hostels, work-trade, Couchsurfing, etc.), you need to be careful with your valuables. Duh, right?
Whenever I’m in a room, almost every time, a roommate leaves their phone or valuables on their bed. They go shower, use the toilet, or temporarily leave the room for whatever reason. Their phone is always out in the open. This is an easy way for someone to steal your phone.
This happened to a guy I met at a hostel in Belgium. He woke up, left his phone on the charger, left for 10-15 minutes to pick up his breakfast, and when he returned to his room, his phone was gone. He was so upset, but the hostel kept saying, “well, you shouldn’t have left your phone unattended” and it’s true.
People are in and out of rooms all the time, checking in/checking out, visiting, or passing by. If you’re sharing a room with a lot of people, which is common if you’re doing a dorm room, you need to be mindful of your valuables.
It’s good to be trusting, but it’s important to take reasonable measures to protect your belongings. Most likely, people aren’t going to take your phone, but you never know. And I’ve seen this happen more than once to other travelers.
To avoid this theft: lock your belongings at all times. Whenever you need to leave the room, put your valuables and phone in your locker or bring them with you.
The quick slip
This is another common way people get their phones stolen. When you’re out sightseeing or on public transportation, people can easily slip their hands in your bag and take your phone without you even noticing it. These thieves are so sneaky and so quick, it’s so easy for them to do it without you ever feeling their hands go into your bag.
This has happened to many travelers and many travelers I’ve been with too.
To avoid this theft: use an anti-theft travel bag that has lockable zippers. You can lock your bag so no one can easily unzip your bag and steal your phone.
This is another reason why having an anti-theft bag is so important because thieves can slash your bag strap and steal your bag. This one isn’t as common, but it can and does happen.
When you’re walking on the street, exploring the country, and wearing a regular bag, someone can cut off the straps of your bag. When they cut the straps, your bag will fall to the ground, and then they will run off with your bag (and phone).
To avoid this theft: wear an anti-theft bag so your bag straps can’t be slashed. A lot of anti-theft bags have slash-proof straps. They’re very durable and a great way to easily avoid this theft from happening to you.
Before traveling, get a cloud service so your photos and phone can be backed up while abroad. If your phone, unfortunately, gets stolen, you will at least have your important photos, videos, and phone content backed up to a secure place. You can use Google Photos, iCloud, Dropbox, etc.
Every time someone gets their phone stolen, they’re always *super* bummed that all their travel photos are gone. Having a cloud service is a great way to protect your photos while traveling!